Three Point Lighting with Tere Casas

It's interesting how connections are made.  I took several photos of Tere Casas at Pliates ProWorks Burlingame and she liked my photos of her so much that she asked me if I could take photos of her painting.  She's a visual artist!  So I went over to her studio, which isn't too far from Pilates ProWorks.  I told her that I was going to bring some speed lights to light up her studio.  What I didn't tell her until the end of the shoot was that I had never done three point lighting before!

Here's our first shot.  It's a fairly blank canvas right now, which is a great starting point for our story.  I did have three Godox speed lights set up, but the below photo was converted to black & white for one primary reason: just above Tere's head is a bucket, which is bright red.  It was a huge distraction so I did the black & white conversion using the green filter, which is my favorite.

ISO 200   23mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.6   1/105sec

The next shot is an interesting one.  Yes, you can see the red bucket, but it's in the shadows.  I was thinking ... how could I really give this next shot a studio-like feel?  One of the beautiful things about the Godox flash system for the Fuji is that the Godox has high speed sync (HSS) capability, up to 1/8000sec, which is the max mechanical shutter speed of the X-T2!  So what do you do when you want to control the ambient light?  Increase your shutter speed.  I knew that Tere wouldn't be dark because I had three speedlights focused on her, but I definitely needed the background to be dark.

ISO 200   16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 20.6mm   f.2.8   1/2000sec

You can get a rough idea of the lighting setup from this shot.  One light behind her, serving as a separation and hair light.  One light high and to the right.  That light was a Godox AD200 with small grid attached because I wanted a bit of a spotlight on Tere.  The third light was directly to the right of the frame, providing a little light for fill and also on some of the background behind Tere.  The AD200 was the only light with a modifier on it.

The next shot now shows her artwork starting to form.  I had the same three light setup and didn't have to move the lights.  I just changed my perspective.  From this angle, you can better see what she's doing, and the light is actually filling her face much better.  I had only shifted over about five feet to my right.

ISO 800   16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 47mm   f.2.8   1/4000sec

Tere had set up three different canvases that day and would alternate between them as each one was drying.

I initially wasn't sure how much she was going to get done in the two hours I was there.  But like I surprised her by telling her that I had never done a three light setup on my own before, Tere surprised me by how quicky she got the painting done!  

ISO 800   16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 45.5mm   f.2.8   1/2000sec

In the above shot, it was now the AD200 that was serving as the separation and hair light.  And you can see the distinctive shadow caused by the AD200 and also the Godox TT685 that was behind me and being used as a fill light.

Tere's artwork that day was a mix of paint and textured paper and stencils.  And at one point, she had done something to one of the paintings where the contrast in colors had such depth of field that it looked like a real hole in the canvas.

Another shot, now showing the location of the AD200 on a light stand off to the left of the frame.  And if you look even closer, just behind Tere's right hand is the other light stand with yet another Godox TT685 mounted on it.

ISO 800   16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 45.5mm   f.2.8   1/2000sec

This final shot utilized the three point lighting one more time.  I had to move fast to get this shot because I wanted to shoot the paint (mixed with a little water) in motion.  You can tell from the shadows where the lights were set up.

ISO 800   16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 21.3mm   f.2.8   1/4000sec

The above shot is one of my favorites, not just because I was able to freeze the paint as she was pouring it, but because the lighting scheme was such that it accentuated the muscles in her arms.  It's always a great victory when using speed lights if you can actually make the features of a person stand out, otherwise things just look flat ... and featureless.

Throughout the entire shoot, I used a whole bunch more lenses than listed above.  I used the primes initially, but then switched over to the 16-55mm f/2.8 because as Tere's paintings started to come to life, I needed to be able to zoom in and out in order to compose the image properly.

Check out Tere's website and artwork!  As of this writing, she's actually in Mexico where her paintings are currently being displayed at an exhibition!