More Lighting via Self Portraits

So often I wind up being my own lab rat when it comes to testing lights.  I feel like I've been struggling lately with lighting my shots artificially, (ie using flash) so I wanted to spend a bit more time with my modifiers to see what kind of light I could get out of them.  The twist was that I wanted to use a shallow Depth of Field to make a very simple, yet focused headshot against a plain wall.  Nothing fancy.  A wall, me, a chair, camera on a tripod and my softboxes.  

I really wanted to sort out why I would use one modifier over the other.  Why bust out a huge 45" octabox when I can use my 24" softbox that sets up in seconds?  Another question would be: How close can I get the box to the subject?  How does the light look when I feather it out?

Well, here are the results.

I started out with a simple setup: Ezybox camera left, 50mm f/1.8 at f/2.8.  Nice and shallow.  I turned the power down to 1/64, as low as it would go on the flash.  Not only does this extend battery life, but it will also allow me to push the softbox in really close.  The initial shots weren't great.  I felt like I was warping my features a bit too much, and I wound up switching to an 85mm f/1.8 instead.  Same aperture, and just a little bit less distorted looking.

The only other problem I had was a pretty deep shadow on the right side.  I popped up a piece of white card-stock up off camera right and used that to reflect some light back into my face.  

What I liked about the Ezybox in this configuration is the rapid falloff of light and very nice, and focused catch-lights.  Due to its size, the Ezybox creates somewhat of a defined shadow on the wall, but not so much that it's a distraction.   

The next set of images were done with the octagonal Apollo Orb by Westcott.  I have my reservations about this modifier, including the size and apparent flimsyness.  There's another issue as well: when you set it up, you can't access the flash once the front baffle is in place.  This sucks, unless you're using wireless TTL triggering.

The light though, especially for this application, is fantastic.  Really really nice light.  The big source gives you a wonderful softness, as well as nice round catchlights.  When you feather this light out, it gets exceptionally pretty.

Not that I'm exceptionally pretty...

Shot with the Ezybox, once I felt I had a "nice" smiling picture and the lighting was right.

I love the definition that comes out in Black and White.  This is a fantastic way to light!

Deep in thought... The Apollo Orb.  Notice how smooth the light is, especially on the background.  It's like there's a natural vignette (I didn't add a vignette to this!!)

Can you guess which light was used on these photos?

Not too bad for one light!

I'm out, I will be shooting some star trails on the weekend, or maybe later this summer with the way the weather has been going!