LOL! Lighting On Location – Comic Book Store Edition

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle's Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM 97.7 FM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle’s Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

As you may well know by now, one of my favorite photographic challenges is to make a portrait under less than ideal circumstances. When I was contacted by my friend Jason Rockman to make some portraits in a comic book store, I knew it was going to be very fun.

Jason, a DJ for Montreal’s CHOM 97.7 FM radio station and singer for Slaves On Dope, is a bona-fide comic book freak. It is a passion he literally wears on his sleeves. As it turns out British tattoo magazine Skin Deep is putting out a special edition which will focus on super-hero inspired ink, and they decided to profile Jason and his super-hero themed tattoos. A good part of Jason’s work was done by Montreal’s Dave Cummings who is an incredibly talented tattoo artist, check him out if you need anything done!

I knew a few things going into the shoot. The store, Expert Comics, would be open for business. And though it is a pretty big store, it cannot be compared to the size we are used to working with in a studio.

I knew I wanted a colorful background that complemented Jason, his tattoos, and the spirit of the article.

Finally, since the shoot is super-hero themed, I wanted to treat Jason to some beautiful light with a bit of an edge.

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle's Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle’s Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Upon arriving at Expert, I knew immediately what background I wanted. Along one of the walls was a huge rack of extremely colorful comics and graphic novels. Perfect! The biggest challenge facing me now was that the space was only 15-20 feet wide. Ideally I want my subject at least 10 feet off of the background, that just wasn’t an option here. Jason was going to be no more than 6 feet from the wall. I didn’t want the background to be too distracting, so I opted to shoot with my fast prime lenses instead of my zooms; this allowed me to shoot at f/2.8 and allowed the background to fall out of focus. I started my tests wide open at f/1.4, but found the depth of field to be too narrow and the background became way too abstract. Here is what the light set-up looked like…

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle's Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle’s Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

My main light is an Alien-Bees B400 strobe shooting through one of my favorite modifiers, my Photoflex 5-foot OctoDome. The beauty of the OctoDome is that it has a narrow profile; I can have a large light source which doesn’t take up a huge amount of space. I had the light up as high as I could get it without damaging the ceiling, and angled downwards to get a slight butterfly pattern and some shadow under his chin. Has the light been too direct, his face would have lost definition. I have had a lot of question from colleagues regarding the seemingly wimpy strobes that I use, afterall, the Alien Bees B400 is only rated at 160 Ws. It actually suits my needs perfectly! I rarely shoot outdoors in the blazing sun so I do not need a huge amount of output for that. I also shoot at very large apertures, for the most part at f/1.4 to f/4. If my lights were too powerful, I would not be able to get the shallow depth of field I am often after since at their lowest output they are still too strong.

I then placed 2 Canon speedlites on either side of Jason, approximately 8 feet away and slightly behind him. I oriented the heads of the flashes vertically to give me a taller and thinner spread of light. To control flare I attached a flag on each light that I made from an old pair of 4×5 darkslides. These lights served 2 purposes; they help separate Jason from the background and, more importantly, the light added a nice rim around Jason which helped highlight his arms and face, as well as his tattoos. It gave the photographs a nice sense of dimension.

The whole system was triggered using my trusty Pocket Wizards.

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle's Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Jason Rockman, singer for the Slaves On Dope and DJ for Montreal radio station CHOM, poses for a portrait at LaSalle’s Expert Comics during a photo shoot for Skin Deep Magazine. PHOTO BY TIM SNOW

Not knowing the final layout of the magazine, I made sure to capture some horizontal as well as some vertical photographs. I also wanted to give the magazine some other options, so we shot a few other set-ups switching up backgrounds, as well as jumping between available light as well as strobe.

As soon as I receive the page layouts I will update the post!

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2 thoughts on “LOL! Lighting On Location – Comic Book Store Edition

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

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