When I came upon this Rajasthani man sitting at his loom in Udaipur, India, I knew the color surrounding him would make for a dramatic composition.
He sat in deep shade under a canopy but the weaving yarn extended out into the harsh midday sun. See the image below left that was shot with only available light and my camera set on Program mode with the exposure more or less for the old guy in the shade. Notice the wide tonal range differences involved and how much the ground and yarn are over-exposed in the foreground.
In the image on the right you can see two of the Canon Speedlites I set up to balance the exposure. My key light was the 24-inch softbox you see on the taller Manfrotto 5001B light stand on the right into which I mounted a 580EX II Speedlite triggered by a Pocket Wizard TT5 radio slave. I positioned the unit slightly forward of the seated gentlemen and rotated it so that most of the light fell on him but the softbox also provided a wash of light across the two textiles hanging behind. I feathered the light on the background by rotating the softbox until I created a good separation in light values between his white clothing and the red textiles behind and thus eliminated the need for a background light. The top image shows my final tweaking.
On the shorter Westcott back light stand on the left toward the rear is the rim light that was also triggered with another TT5 fixed to a 430EX II Speedlite fitted with a LumiQuest non-slip strap and a LumiQuest snoot that narrowed the rim light effect on the left side of his turban, beard and left shoulder to counterbalance the light from the softbox. Behind the post on the left (at the “g” in the copyright watermark) there’s another hanging textile that was perpendicular to those at the back. This side textile conveniently served as a gobo to block the rim light from flaring into my lens. In the small photo on the left you can see the gap between the two textiles that was just wide enough for the rim light to pass through.
The final shooting position was down low just in front of the wooden post on the right (at the “n” of my last name in the watermark). To add texture and to provide separation for the red yarn, at the last minute I stretched another textile on the ground under the yarn strings. See the difference between these two images above and in the final image at the top.
I used three groups for my radio controlled slaves with an A:B ratio of 8:1 giving the softbox key light three f/stops more power than the Ray Ring Flash at camera which provided the fill. The snooted rim light at left was set to the “C” group and was dropped two f/stops. In the balancing act I also set the ambient light down two f/stops, which darkened the exposure for the yarn and ground in the bright sunlight. I set the ISO to 800 and the lens at f/11 for greater depth of field.
Click the photos below for info about some of the gear I used for images in this blog post.