In late April of this quarter, the Olympic College Photo Club pulled together with their advisor, Laurie Usher, to bring a professional photographer to the film room where a cultivating demonstration of proper lighting commenced. Theresa Aubin Ahrens is a full time portrait photographer who has been in the business for over 30 years, and has dedicated decades of her life to perfect every photograph.
The lighting workshop began with a brief overview of the topics to be discussed: types of light and tools to gain the light needed. Ahrens introduced vocabulary words such as direct light and diffused light, in which direct light is hard uninterrupted light from the source, while diffused light is soft light usually through some kind of filter cast by ambient sources. She then went on to explain how there are almost always more than one source of light during portrait photos. There should be a key light and at least one other source such as a fill light and/or background light depending on your desired effect. During Ahrens’ presentation, she brought to the table a collection of speed lights and flash bulbs, which are important to be utilized as a set. She attached her first speed light, a high output flash adapter, to her camera and then proceeded to synchronize two other free body speed lights to work in conjunction with the master flash. These tools are able to fire off at the same exact time by the use of an infrared beam.
After the explanation of the necessary tools, she explained what styles are used to mold the light around people’s faces to best suit their appearance. Ahrens noted that the “butterfly” technique usually benefits females due to the appearance of volume the shadows give the cheekbones and lips. This style of lighting gets its name because of the butterfly shaped shadow underneath the nose of the model. This style is typically not used for males because men usually have deeper set eyes and it can give the opposite of a desired effect by casting an extremely dark shadow blocking the eyes out altogether. There is another widely harnessed technique called Rembrandt Lighting: a key light and a filler light that creates a distinguished inverted triangle of light on the models cheekbone, accentuating the face.
After a quick slide show, Ahrens took advantage of the lights and white screen in the film room. This studio set-up allowed for her professional skills to shine. A student volunteered to be a model for the demonstration, and was instructed to stand in front of the back lights and to the side of the main light. Two other students were used as “flags” to block the direct backlight from hitting the student model. Several different light settings were used to show the different effects that can be used. The end results of the photoshoot were spectacular, a perfect example of how different lighting can drastically modify any photo.
If you have any other questions about lighting or would like portraits professionally taken, please contact Theresa Aubin Ahrens at Aubin Ahrens’ Photography in downtown Bremerton.