GPP 2016: Dubai, Feb 5th-12th Schedule is up!

In Camera Veritas

Show of hands, who knew that the cameras we use every day are named after a room?

The latin word for room is camera, which makes sense when you realize the first objects for recording light were cameras obscura.

And in this case instead of the room being the camera, the camera is in fact the light modifier.

So here's my camera and my light modifier. It's only a camera if you are speaking latin, but it truly is the light mod. I started thinking about this after the passport photo post in which I lit Em with a white wall and a fill card.

As we were walking out of the room, it hit me that you could think of the narrow hallway as being a giant soft box, but how would it shape a light placed behind the camera and fired backwards?

So we took the photo off of the wall and spent five minutes on a one-bare-light portrait. I placed the white foam core under her chin to fill the bounce light coming off of the back wall, ceiling and two side walls:

Hmm. Think I just found a head shot booth.

My hallway being somewhere between cream and tan, you definitely pick up some color on the bounce. But nothing that can't be taken out in post. And you can get a variety of difference looks based on where you aim the raw flash.

Shoot it up into the ceiling and you get a more traditional clamshell when combined with the fill card, as in with the photo of Em above.

Aim the light a little to camera right and move slightly to camera left and you get a more directional light that still wraps well, as in the top photo of poet Truth Thomas. (Thus, the In Camera Veritas header.)

Aim it straight back and you'll get a flatter, more revealing light that will also create large speculars on a surface such as Truth's jacket.

Here's a wider angle, showing a camera's eye view. As far as lighting gear and set up goes, this could hardly be simpler to set up: bare flash aiming behind me and a piece of white foam core wedged in below Truth:

We closed the door at camera left when shooting, but now that I think about it, the doors on left and right are control surfaces, too. And an easy background swap replaces the black foam core with white for a totally different look. (They are 30x40" and you can pick them up at Staples for $6.99.)

But when used with a single light and the geometry of the room, the effect is that of using a big expensive light modifier. Which if you think about it, is technically exactly what you are really doing.

Next: Soprano Rebecca Hargrove Pt. 2


Brand new to Strobist? Start here | Or jump right to Lighting 101
Connect w/Strobist readers via: Words | Photos
Got a question? Hit me on Twitter: @Strobist