Lighting - Keeping it Simple
Hey friends and fellow camera addicts, welcome to this short post on using the Lumix GF1 & G3 with the sexy 20 and 14 mm primes in a very simple lighting set up. It was a pretty rainy day in Singapore so I got together with some friends to mess around with this lovely old Ibanez Artist guitar and a 3M Desk Light. If you don't have one of these do yourself a favor and go get one, not only is it a cracking reading light but the clear polarized light it emits is perfect for simple photography lighting.
The set up for these shots is simplicity beyond belief and I always get a chuckle when I look at some of the lighting set-ups used in many instructional clips where it seems essential to have at least three lights and a giant Octa to light any kind of subject. Don't get me wrong, the results from these set ups are awesome and I occasionally venture into that environment myself but its also way cool to get good results with basic, even primitive set ups. These first two shots were taken with the 3M desk lamp close to the guitar and through a 32" reflector with the covers off to use the diffuser. I also edited them in some cool Lightroom presets that I downloaded free !!!
Regular readers will know that I am on a roll just now with the GF1 and I recently added the lovely little 14 mm F2.5 prime which is not only sharp enough wide open but is also extremely close focusing and this is an often ignored benefit in any lens and one that I think is critical. You can see this clearly in the following shot which for me works only because of the impact from the detail on the guitar and, because its shot open, there is a nice little blur of the background, all from a little pancake 14 mm lens. Incidentally, the shot was processed in Nik Color Efex Pro using the 'film effects' processing and set on Ekatchrome 64 which I thought brought out the lovely sunburst on the guitar.
A quick word on 'keeping it simple'. Everything in this shoot and post was done for simplicity and speed. The little GF1 camera and prime lens set up is cheap, effective and fast to use once you know the controls and the lighting is in every day use as a desk lamp but can easily be pressed into photographic use when required. The editing was done in Lightroom and I either hit one button for the free preset effects, used the easy to select Nik features or did some simple contrast tweaking.
I wouldn't normally go so crazy with the presets but it was all part of the fun of the shoot and aligned perfectly with the simplicity ethos ( and they cost nothing...)
Much as I love the gorgeous worn sunburst color of the Artist I found that I liked the preset effects or a B&W conversion better, I think this is probably down to the contrast effect of the backlit lighting set up but look how nicely the 3M/diffuser set up has rendered the texture on the guitar in this one.
The more I use the GF1, the more convinced than ever I am that for my personal purposes and style of shooting the M43 and small mirrorless system cameras work best. It really is so easy to shoot low and bracket the exposures (spoke about this in the previous post) that I find the shortcomings of the high ISO and to a smaller degree resolution issues are insignificant to me. I would urge anyone who has not tried one to buy a secondhand GF1 and either the 20 or 14 and give it a go, if it doesn't do it for you then you will pretty much get your money back anyway - what have you got to lose??????
Well that's it for this more equipment than travel orientated post which, for me, is all about sharpening skills and technique for when you are in situations where it is critical to get the shot you want. Big thanks to my mates and in particular the lovely legged Cyn for making this such fun, and lets not forget a note of thanks to whoever dreamed up these cracking Lightroom presets.
Until next time, feed the addiction folks and drop me a note on any simple lighting tips you might want to share.