Finding the look…
This shot, of model Carina Trinidad, was an add-on at the end of a larger shoot and a bit of an improvisation, photographically speaking. I didn't have a very clear idea of how I wanted this image to look, so I experimented and let the image evolve as I worked. I thought it might be interesting to detail the process - the good and the bad - and (for better or worse) give you a little look inside how my brain works. This is NOT typically how I light and shoot - but this was a work-in-progress with an undeveloped concept that I refined as I went along.
This was my first exposure, "Off the truck" so to speak. I placed a 4x4 KinoFlo over her head and only had one tube lit here - just to give her a little soft overhead fill and I'm using the actual light in the refrigerator as key. Overall, overexposed. Not very interesting.
Second exposure. Here I did a custom white balance (using an ExpoDisc) and took another shot. This is ISO 4000 f/6.3 @ 1/32 exposure on a Canon EOS 7D.
Experimenting with under-exposure. Looking, primarily, at the fridge highlights - how much light can I get out of the fridge and what should I balance to that? Still ISO 4000 and f/6.3, now an exposure time of 1/250 second (three stops under from the previous exposure). I see I can get a lot from the fridge itself, but, my main subject is too deep. I also think I want that fridge light to burn out a little. Be a little hotter.
Next exposure - ISO 4000 f/6.3 @ 1/80 - opening 1 1/3 stops. I'm liking the feel from the fridge light here, but too much contrast on Carina. Need to bring up her shadow side a bit.
Here I added in a 650W Fresnel off to camera left and simply bounced into floor. You can see it open up her right eye quite a bit and give me a nice soft edge defining her jawline. A better feel, but now I'm not liking the white balance. It's too cold.
I changed to manual white balance and set the Kelvin temperature to 2700.
I wanted a little more life in her eyes, so I added a 150W Fresnel bounced into wall in front of model to create (just behind camera) to give her some eyelight. To really see what I was doing, I shut off the 650W for the moment.
I turned the 650W Fresnel back on and adjusted its bounce position on the floor and the flood/spot to get more heat, spotted it in a little closer to her. Adjusted exposure: ISO 4000 f/6.3 @ 1/100. That's too hot.
Stopping down: ISO 4000 f/6.3 1/250
Here, I swapped out the 650W Fresnel for a 1K Fresnel and added Lee Medium Yellow and full CTO gel onto the light. These two gels were too saturated for the 650W and absorbed too much light, so I changed that to the 1K to get more punch through the gels.
Going further, instead of just bouncing off the floor, I added a silver reflector on floor in hot spot of 1K.
I turned off the overhead Kino completely, added diffusion (250) to lights in fridge and got my final look. Now I was ready to shoot - and this was the final result: