Just like a painter standing in front of an empty canvas, visualizing his next masterpiece, so do we, as photographers, trying to make a mental vision of our next shot. That vision, at first pale and blurred, eventually starts to materialize as we start to realize it.

The “tools” that we use in this very process must be known and applied correctly for them to be effective on our final vision, so that what started as a doodle of our imagination could become a reality.

1 .  Technical Details

Camera: Nikon F4 with 105mm lens
Film: Ilford HP5+ 400
Aperture: f/16
Exposure: 1/250 with flash sync
Lightning: Visico strobe VC 400HLR,
Collapsible reflector
Developer: Kodak D76 @ 7:30 mins

2 .  Main Light

The main light is set at a 45-degree angle from the subject’s point of view. The main light is directed and sharp, which provides us with an image that is contrasted and has deep shadows. Using this kind of light may result in deep “empty” shadows with no details, and is commonly used in low key photography.

3 .  Collapsible Reflector

The deep “empty” shadows caused by the main light, can be remedied by using a few handy tools. In this photo, a collapsible reflector is placed on the subject’s right side, opposite from the main light. The light (from the main light) that reflects off that reflector will give you a soft, diffused look.

4 .  Smoke

Have you ever wanted to capture a portrait of someone interesting with a cigar and could not capture the smoke well enough? Well, it’s not you, it’s the light so don’t torture yourself. When dealing with this kind of situation, you need to have a counter light that will give you that effect. Counter lights are (usually) placed opposite the main light and behind the subject. In this photo, the counter light is in fact that same collapsible reflector. It may be tricky to get the right position of the reflector to express the smoke, but you will eventually get the feel for it. If you like, you can also use another light to express the smoke.

5 .  Additional Tips & Tricks

Composition: Composing a multiple exposure shot is all about your own perception, so don’t be afraid to experiment. This will get you a long way.Lightning: You can use a directed flashlight if you do not have a strobe. Also, a collapsible reflector could be anything that can bounce light waves (aluminum foil, white paper, mirror etc.)

Text & Photography by Milos Cubrilo

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