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An artificial light project

Recently, I finished a photography project for the website of my wife’s research team at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience of Maastricht University: The End of Average. The idea was to photograph the eight team members in high-key black & white against a white background. I shot everything in four sessions over a period of a year. It was the first time I used artificial light for an assignment: three big LED lights that were borrowed on the spot (see photo of the lighting setup at the end of this post). This came with its own challenges (especially trying to acquire consistency across shots) and reminded me once again why I like available light photography so much better. The project took a lot of trying, tweaking, and editing, but I learnt so much and I’m quite pleased with the results.

Here are all selected shots, three of every team member: two “neutral” portraits (one where the subject looks into the camera and one where the subject looks away) and one portrait with an item representing their leisure time passion. All shots were taken with the Sony A7III with either the Zeiss Sonnar T* 55mm F1.8 or the Samyang 85mm F1.4 lens (mostly stopped down to F2). In the last three sessions, I exclusively used the Zeiss because it gave me more room to move closer or further from the subject. All images were edited in Capture One with round trips to Affinity Photo for removal of background elements (edges of the background screen, which was a bit on the small side) and Nik Silver Efex for final touches.

A straightforward lighting setup: three LEDs were placed in front, to the left, and to the right of the subject. The LEDs were covered with sheets of white diffusion cloth to soften the light. The color temperature of the lights was set to 4800 K, as was my camera’s white balance. This may seem irrelevant for B&W photography, but white balance definitely has some impact here as well, for example, on the overall contrast of the image.


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