I was unsure what to post to this assignment since there were A LOT of different opinions on what this really means. A majority of the submitters wrote in their post that they weren't sure if their photo was correct. The disscussion went on and on. I'm looking forward to see the winners, which will give us a clue of what "contre-jour" actually is:)
Anyway, taken the description above into account, I wanted to use my strobes again. After a couple of days with thinking, I came to think about those classic low-key concert photos, which has a lot of dark (underexposed) areas in addition to stage lights (overexposed) with the artist as the focal point. These photos, at least those I'm thinking of, has a very high-contrast look, which I wanted to recreate.
Unfortunately, I didn't have a stage. Only a small computer room. I mounted three SB-600's in a row wich would function as the backlights. And my last Speedlight, the SB-800, would fill the artist with a snoot. I had to fire all these with Cactus triggers. I mounted the microphone on the microphone stand and did a test shot. To my big surprise, it appeared like one of the Cactus recievers had a malfunction. It triggered the flash constantly and actually drained the battery of the connected Speedlight... (RIP, that one Cactus reciever)
So, since I didn't have enough Cactus triggers left, I had to use the SB-800 on the camera as a commander, and could only use two instead of three stage lights, since I had to use one as a snooted fill flash.
Finally, after some modelling, the setup ended up like this:
My wife sat to the left in this setup shot and pointed the camera on the stage lights. After some testshots, I ended up with these settings (all-manual):
Backlight: 1/64 power at 24mm
Fill flash: 1/8 power at 24mm (forgot to set it to 85mm...)
Camera: 1/200 at f/9 *)
Lens: Nikkor 35mm f/2D AF
*)I recently read that in order to get a star-shaped sun, use a narrow aperture. I'm glad I read that, because that is the effect I wanted in this shot.
What was important to me was the right facial expression in addition to the composition. I didn't have a specific plan. I just told here to twist and turn the camera for each take. Halfway in the shooting I found out that I couldn't pretend that I was singing. I actually had to scream loud to get that intense look... After 30-something shots I got one that both she and I was pleased with:
Then I had to walk into the digital darkroom. After increasing the blacks and exposure in Adobe Camera Raw, I imported it into Photoshop to add a gradient map adjustment layer. I think this is the best way to do a high-contrast B&W conversion. I also had to erase some lens flare and a part of the light stand in the background. I felt that a little recomposing was needed too, which was very easy to perform due to the large black areas:)
The final image after editing:
What I could have done differently:
- I could have tried to light my face from different directions to see if I got some interesting shadows.
- Tried narrower aperture to create bigger "stars". When I increased the blacks in processing, the stars got smaller.