Lighting for digital Dave Montizambert looks at The Test Part 9 - part 1 of 1 2 3 4

by Dave Montizambert Published 01/04/2009


Assuming that you read my last article from January 2009 Professional Imagemaker, you should know how to set up and light a Shirley test. The purpose of this test is to determine whether or not your camera ISO, or you could say its sensitivity rating, is correct and whether or not your handheld meter is accurate to your camera. In addition to this, a Shirley test will provide you with a perfectly exposed image from which a custom pre-set for RAW processing can be created for the future processing of all your RAW files.

Having a pre-set is important as stated in the previous article since it gives you a standard to light to.

'Well that's all fine and dandy,' you say, 'but I'm just coming out of a long cold wet/snowy winter and I've had just about enough of your technical articles on Lighting for Digital with their ugly setup images, I want to see something beautiful'. To which I reply, 'Well maybe you are ready for a little photographic antipasto, how about a look at some images I recently took in tropical Hawaii of some beautiful semi-clad women?' Now before you call me a sexist you should know that most of the scantily clad creatures that I have had an opportunity to light and photograph have been well-built, male firefighters and considering that I'm a healthy heterosexual male photographer, I'm thinking that it's time to balance myself out so that I can be an equal-opportunity sexist. Besides I believe that a high percentage of men get into photography just so that they can use photography as an excuse to get close to some great looking women and so why should I be any different?


Anyhow take a look at bathing-suit models Blake Schaeffer in Image 1 and Kara Duenasin Image 3. I should also mention that Hawaii was very cloudy for the seven days that I was shooting there and so I had to create my own sunlight, as depicted in the setup diagrams Image 2 and Image 4. Hopefully the fact that I didn't really get to escape winter fully (overcast skies in Hawaii) will help you to hate me a bit less. Anyhow once you've finished admiring Blake and Kara I think we should push on with Lighting For Digital.

Assuming that the Shirley set is set up and ready to go (see Image 05), it's time to photograph it. The camera aperture you choose is somewhat arbitrary; I like to work with an aperture that makes sense with the power of the light-source in use. For practical purposes the aperture should not be too close to the extreme ends of the lens' available aperture choices

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