Lights, camera... / by Mario Mirabile

My Christmas present to myself last year was my first pieces of studio lighting gear. Nothing fancy though - just two light stands, a couple of umbrellas and a few cheap radio triggers. Together with the flashes I already had, it's possible to create quite sophisticated lighting effects on a  budget. The obvious advantage of the cheap and cheerful umbrella is the soft spread of light it produces and the corresponding softening of shadows. It also has it's limitations though, particularly in the way it spills light into the background of the image. If you want to get really serious, there's an almost endless array of equipment (just try Googling "studio lighting equipment") to help you get the perfect shot if you have the money, space and inclination.  As I'm not about to leap headlong into studio portraiture I'll just have to make do with what I've got.

I'd been itching to give the gear a good workout out for since I got it. I have a request from friends to do some family portraits soon, so I wanted to make sure I understand how everything works. I've been doing some reading, but for me the information doesn't jell until I've actually put it into practice.  The other members of my household are always reluctant - at best - to let me use them as guinea pigs for my photographic experiments, but my friend Rob is always a willing subject.

Rob suffers from Stinson Syndrome. For those not familiar with the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother", one of the characters - Barney Stinson - is imbued with such awsomeness that it's impossible to take a bad photo of him. Rob seems to have the same problem. He has a naturally relaxed manner that just seems to come through in any photo of him. I'm really pleased with the results, and surprised at how little fuss was required to get them. Of course there's a downside. As a photographer himself, Rob's payback was that I had to pose for him. Unfortunately, I don't share Rob's affliction, so I won't be showing any of those shots here.