Blending Strobe, Reflectors and Daylight
by Gary Bernstein

Through the years, one of my favorite clients has been the fashion forward company Sasson. They have always allowed me to design the ads however I wanted. That's creative freedom at the highest level. I've photographed many celebrities for them, one of which is the multi-talented and hilariously-funny actor John Larroquette.

When John and I first spoke prior to the photo session, I asked him if he had any hobbies. "I'm a fisherman," he replied. "Can we do an ad that shows me fishing? "You want it, you got it," said I.

So off we went to a small pond in Culver City, California, not more than ten minutes from my studio. I rented a large location van for this shot, complete with dressing room, make-up area, bathroom, and generators to power my studio strobes. But rest-assured, this image can be made with a portable strobe triggered by your camera. Just make sure you carry a lightstand and a long PC connector or slave so the light can be used a few feet off-camera.

I was really working at the wrong time of day for this shot - about 12 noon - but due to John's schedule, that's what we were left with. Consequently, the sun was straight up, providing the least flattering lighting angle mother nature could muster.

After styling John's wardrobe and attaching a friendly crustacean to his colorful shorts, I asked him to stand with his back to the hazy sun. Taking a reflected meter reading of the scene with my hand-held meter from camera position, I placed a large Sibern (Rochester, Indiana) silvered reflector to camera right. The reflector blasted John with light equal to the ambient light reading of the scene (1/500 at f/5.6).

For a bit of additional image pop, I positioned a 2400 watt-second strobe in a pan-reflector above and to the left of camera position. The strobe recorded an f/5.6 to f/8 on my incident strobe meter, slightly overpowering the ambient exposure.

I used a 6X6 camera loaded with Kodak Kodachrome 64 film and a 250mm lens for this shot - on a tripod. This particular image (a variation of the image selected for the advertisement) is one of my favorites because the high-angular sunlight rims his head ever so slightly. A fun shot - and a wonderful man to work with.


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