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  • Writer's pictureTango Sierra

How to take a business branding image with zero light...

Upon hours and hours of learning about “the right lighting” “quality of light” “direction of light” etc., etc., etc. I found myself deep in the bottom of an underground mine with zero light. Not only did I not have a light source, I was also challenged with a harsh environment of dirt, debris, and non-reflective surfaces. Throughout my life I have always prided myself on being a problem solver, and with this assignment I was certainly faced with a fair amount of problems associated with taking portraits in an underground mine!

Standing in the dark, looking up a long straight hill also known as a ramp, or in this case the main decline, I questioned how exactly I would be able to provide a quality image based on the current environmental circumstances… Besides the obvious lighting conditions, I was also faced with another problem which was my subjects. For the portraits, I was using rough, rugged, and opinionated participants in this process.

The only solution was to use my external flash also known as a Speedlight, which creates a powerful flash of light. Often when using external flashes, photographers will diffuse the light (basically cover the flash head with a soft fabric) to prevent the harsh lighting edges which are a bye-product of using these types of flashes. Because of the harsh environment, and the edgy rugged character of the individuals, I realized that this harsh flash created the mood and feeling that was being displayed. Utilizing an off camera flash and my wireless trigger system, I was able to stand a further distance back from my subjects while still having my external flash in close enough proximity to light the subjects. This created opportunities to photograph these guys in their natural habitat, without the addition of a false light being present, from a distance which produced some amazing results.

Although this would have been an easy assignment to walk away from, with its many problems I am very happy that I challenged the normal processes and my personal comfort levels to provide this service. These images prove that with some good skillsets, simple equipment, and most importantly problem solving attitude, quality business portraits can be accomplished even in zero light!

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