Less is more – One light shots

   I love gear.  A writer who did a cover article about my skateboard photography for an east coast arts and culture magazine quoted me in big bold text as saying: “Gear is like porn to me.”  I have overcome the confusion that aroused with this quote.  I have always loved lighting and camera gear.  Big lighting setups and the mental calculation involved with envisioning and building a lighting design from scratch with nice “toys” has always been a pleasure of mine.  

     The downside to doing location shooting with a large lighting setup is the amount of gear to transport and carry, the setup and tear down time needed and the time spent balancing and adjusting. I came to realize that on a number of shoots I was spending too much time focusing on the technical aspects than the actual subject matter. 

     I decided to try an experiment. It seemed to me that a lot of successful photographers shot natural light. Personally I’m not a fan of shooting natural light often as my “look” usually depends on an underpowered ambient light which requires unnatural light. My experiment was to shoot with 2 lights only. One softbox’d, power packed mono light and the second being the sun.  

     By only having one light to setup and balance quickly I had more time to focus on the aspects of my subject.  I achieved a nicer shot with the simple setup.

Andrew Todd Photography

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

         The next picture is one of my favorite skate shots because of the story.  Living in a small city like Saint John it’s very rare to come across a skate spot that hasn’t been skated to death.  This roof drop was something that we had never noticed and it seems like no one had before as far as we know.  

     I spent the first few minutes setting up a high rim light that was at the level that Justin would be at and two more high strobes to my left and right that would sandwich him in with a cross light. The problem with the spot is that it was at a hotel and by the time I had set up the lights and Justin had warmed up to the idea of attempting it the manager came out and told us he had called the cops and we have to leave.

     We started to pack everything up and as I was getting my last strobe down Justin climbed up for one shot at it. The manager was angry but Justin figured we had a few minutes before the police showed up. Praying that the one strobe was balanced well I snapped one photo with the one light and he landed it.

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

     There have been lots of times where I have become lazy and decided not to go out and shoot something because I didn’t want to fill the car with my gear and lug it around.  But you don’t need a huge fancy setup to shoot nice pictures.  With a little simple knowledge of balancing some fill with some ambient you can come out with some great results.

     The one light setup is something that I will continue to use regularly for location shots so that attention to my subject can become my new porn instead of my gear.

 

     Some more of my favorite photos that were lit with one light.

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

Andrew Todd Photography - One light setup

 

– Andrew Todd

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