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  • Writer's pictureSudhir Damerla

lighting the ceo

These shots from my previous assignment show how easy it is to adapt to multiple situations using one light and a very tight timeline (Think 20 minutes to shoot 4 different pictures).

Although I am a proponent of having complete control of the flash (when there is abundant time), there are situations when I rely solely on the TTL metering and more so on the HSS of the modern flashes.

Take for example the following few shots. Mike Holland is a little more than your average CEO. Heading an organization like the Embassy Office Parks means you have very little time to spare for you day to day activities, let alone for a photo-shoot. So when Business Today asked me to shoot a few pictures for a story that month, I knew I had a challenge at hand.

On the shoot day I released that I will have a maximum of half an hour with him. So a cursory recce of the office and surrounding areas on the way in gave me a few options. Thankfully we were blessed with a nice bright sunny day and a blue sky. To get maximum variety and to give Business Today enough options, I was looking at all the visual alternatives I could get. I have made it a habit to keep a background stand and a couple of black and white sheets in the car as a backup for shoots where all may go wrong.

As soon as I walked in I see a skylight with rafters throwing a pattern on the floor. I immediately knew I could have an interesting effect if I could just make the light fall on a background. So out came the white cloth on the background stand and a borrowed cafeteria bar chair and bingo!..we had shot number one setup. As we waited for Mr. Holland to arrive, I took a shoot-through umbrella and stuck it on the stand with a godox flash. Ten frames later we had our picture.

Earlier I had spotted a beautiful staircase banister in black metal, completely back-lit with a huge window. All I needed to do was fill some light onto Mr. Holland's face and this will be another interesting picture. And that's exactly what we did next! We got an awesome shot with enough dark and negative space for text overlap, if required. Variety!

To control the light spill on the background and prevent any stray light bouncing off of the window glass behind the subject, I decided to use a 50 cm deep Octabox which has quite a directional beam. And again the TTL was doing all the light intensity adjustment while I focused on the shooting. I probably did a bit of exposure compensation on the TTL adjustment, but I am not too sure.

At this point we are 10 minutes into the shoot and I have two winners already.

Luckily, on the same floor as all the other awesome frames, was a conference room wrapped with long horizontal wooden slats which could visually lend a good leading line to the subject. As anyone with any photography background could tell you, leading lines are the best way to focus attention to a subject. This was our next frame!

There was one little problem though. Notice the glass behind the slats? This could become a refection nightmare, but one easily solved by replacing the white background with a black one and holding it parallel to the slatted wall. Same flash and Octa and we were ready to go. Ten frames later, we had our third safe shot!!

ceo standing ceo portrait
This is the one which made it into the print eventually

I had a few more minutes to space and could potentially push for a risky one. To be honest I had this shot in mind even before I came to the location. I wanted to show the building and shoot a low down picture to emphasize power. As luck would have it, I spotted this location on the drive into the premises. It was quite a hot day and anything more than 3 minutes outside would have beads of sweat on the subjects forehead.

So I stuck a mini bowl/reflector on the AD200 and aimed it slightly downward at his face and started firing away. I was pretty high up on the shutter speed (maybe a little over to a 1000th of a second) on a manual focus 24mm AI-S lens and fired away and hoped for the best as I could not make out anything on the rear LCD because of the harsh bright afternoon sun.

And off he went after a quick handshake. Once we were back inside, I previewed the images and was pleasantly surprised to see that the TTL and HSS had remained spot on and predictable. Annnndddd... here is the final tear sheet from Business Today. That's all for today folks. I hope you enjoyed this one. Do follow me on FB and Insta for more fun articles, pictures, tips and tricks.

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