I had the privilege to take photos of a number of teachers from Bodhi Tree Yoga this past weekend. We had a great time and captured some fabulous pictures for their web site.
Our venue was an office building downtown, which was chosen for its fantastic glass atrium. I work in that building and walk through the atrium every day. The beautiful, wrapping light always catches my eye. I contacted the property manager and he was generous enough to let us shoot there on the weekend.
The idea for the shoot was to keep it as natural and simple as possible, lighting the yoga instructors with natural light only. The other requirement was to keep the background pure white. It is well known that a white background needs extra light to be pure white. If you don't light it, you get a yucky greyish colour. To keep the background super white I used two Canon 580EX II flashes on stands, set for 1/8th power and a 24mm spread. The flashes were remotely fired using MicroSync triggers and one flash was placed on either side of the background. A few quick test shots made sure things were working as expected.
Lighting the instructors and the foreground was the trickier task. For this we were using the natural light streaming in from the atrium. The reason this is trickier is because obviously we have no control over the ambient light - Mother Nature does that. We went from low-light in the morning due to thick cloud and snow, to bright, ample light at mid-morning until around noon and finished with fading light around 2PM. This meant I had to keep watching the exposures to make sure the subject and foreground were sufficiently lit. In the heat of the moment this can be easy to overlook. A 36 inch reflector (thank goodness for helpers) was used to make sure the subject's face had enough fill light. All the exposures were set manually. Spot metering on the subject as well as occasionally using a light meter, I was able to get a good starting point for the exposure. Using that EV as a baseline, I adjusted (typically towards over exposure) to get good foreground and subject exposure. Overexposing the subjects somewhat worked for our "look" but I had to be cautious not to blow out detail. Paying attention to the highlight warnings and the histogram helped to keep things on target.
Besides the fluctuating ambient light the biggest issue was fringing seen on some of the subjects. Fringing or chromatic aberration is a characteristic of lenses and can be amplified by high-contrast scenes and wider apertures. More can be read about it here. I will blog more about it in the future. Regardless, the chromatic aberration did not happen in all situations. It was more prevalent with my EF 50mm f/1.4 than my EF 24-70mm f/2.8L and it also seemed to occur more when the ambient light was low.
Overall things went great and everyone had fun doing the shoot. I will end this post with my favourite shot from that day.
PS The shots shown here are pretty much right out of the camera. Typically the only adjustments were exposure (mostly lowering), slight contrast (when necessary) and sharpening. I prefer to get it right in the camera. :-)