My friend Jen of Jen Bee Photography asked me if I could take some photos of her and her boyfriend Ajay for their craft business that they operate out of their garage. One request was that we do something cool involving Ajay and sawdust. If you follow my work, you’ll know I love back lighting photos to light up sprays or even chalk dust in a dramatic way. I already knew the obvious setup would be to back light the sawdust as he clapped it between his hands. I can shoot this setup with my eyes closed, it only requires one light placed behind my subject and in camera I’ll need to kill my ambient light as much as possible so when the flash hits the sawdust, you’ll see a bright plume of dust in front of a mostly dark background. The first few photos were the result I was expecting.
I was happy with these results and could have stopped here, but I’m always digging deeper and looking for the second shot that will give me an unexpected result. My next idea was to put a flash on the floor in front of Ajay and see if I could illuminate the sawdust from below. I wanted to keep the light off of his body so I wouldn’t have a bright torso illuminated behind the sawdust cloud as I knew that would call attention away from the dust. I put two MagMod Grids on my flash, stacking them to reduce the spill of the light and I positioned the flash far enough in front of Ajay so the light would hit only the dust and his hands.
I liked what I was seeing but now I wanted to take the photo one step further and introduce another light to go for more of a portrait involving Ajay and the action of clapping the sawdust. This time I brought in a second Flashpoint R2 Li-on speedlight to light up Ajay and I put a MagMod Sphere to diffuse and shape the light. I was hoping to get some light spill from the second speedlight onto the surroundings behind Ajay just to lighten them up slightly. Here is a pullback of the setup below and the final image.