Any lighting tips for shooting nude bodyscapes with black model?

Discussion in 'Beginner Questions' started by falcon7, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. I know the principles of shooting nude body scapes, but I am looking for information about shooting black models (very dark) using body scape lighting techniques. Intuitively, I am thinking about using a gold reflector for highlights. This is something I can't leisurely experiment with owing to the hourly rate of the models I've selected.BTW, I will be using studio strobes.

  2. Just thinking. Out of the box variety. You seek to develop your own style and set up in the studio rigtht? if I needed to experiment with light effects on torsos, I might develop a style and experiment with one, two and more lights and light modifiers. And color reflectors to see how they bounce off. And how to set apertures... I might even play with some manniquins even... . Then make your notes and work with real skin at the hourly rate.. So that is the best skinny I can come up with as a non body sculptor with light. .
  3. Thoughtful, astute, and practical: no wonder I hadn't thought of that.
  4. I'm neither experienced with nudes nor black people. - Agreeing with Gerry above, I think practicing on a dummy is the cheapest way to get prepared. On the other hand you sound like somebody who learned to handle his lights around a human shape. For that reason I'd suggest a very dark black skin dummy instead of a highly reflective black plastic human shape dummy.
    Over here I'd pick my old well worn work shoes, made from black leather, which I of course didn't shine excessively. I'd expect them to come at least close to a skin's surface structure with their wrinkles and scratches and their shape is round enough to reflect your light in some place and help with the decision how much structure you'd fancy to keep not blown out.
    I can't comment on gold reflectors. - Sorry, for me color and bodyscapes don't go well together. I'd do such stuff in B&W for 2 reasons: The average spectator associates B&W with "attempted artistic nude", no matter how clumsily I'll place my lights. Skin tones in general are very delicate to handle in color reproduction and skin tones you aren't familiar with are a complete nightmare. Advancing technology might by now be able to handle skin tone reproduction somehow automatically, but I read that everything is primarily adjusted for Caucasians and still struggling with others?
    Dayjobbing in the printing industry I appreciate the freedom from color management hassle B&W offers. - YMMV and attempting color and converting later will always work fine.
  5. With caucasian skin, we reveal shape and form with shadows. It's like transforming a circle on a sheet of paper that appears flat to a 3 dimensional ball by shading a part of it. On dark black skin, the opposite is true, Shape and form is best revealed with highlights. Using a large source, like a 7' octa, a large octa bank or lights through a 6' scrim produces large, soft highlights, ie. soft specular highlight edge transfer. Controlling the surface efficiency of the skin also is in your control. Oiled skin, will produce sharper edged specular highlight edge transfer and combined with a smaller harder source like a strip can be used for that. On brown and black skin, a gold or zebra reflector can add a lovely tone to dark skin. If you are compositing several images into the bodyscape, you will want to keep the direction and quality of the light consistent. Might consider using a color checker passport to keep color consistency.
  6. I've made a full-time living for a lot of years, as well as a tremendous amount of lab work (I spent years as the QC manager in the main processing lab of a studio chain; we printed well over a million 8x10 inch (equivalent) "units" per week) doing portrait work. Using the slowest speed professional Kodak portrait/wedding films (VPSII, VPSIII, and Portra 160) printed onto the matching pro papers (either Kodak, Konica, or Fuji), we found no skin tones in the US that couldn't be printed well.

    Now in the case of dark complexions optically printed, you would want to reduce the printing exposure to lighten the skin up on the prints. So you need to have surplus shadow detail - if the complexion is very dark then increase your camera exposure somewhat. It's mostly a matter of judgment how light you print them - it partly depends on what else is in the scene.

    The same basic situation exists with digital cameras - boost the exposure (as measured in a standard method, such as a metered grey card or an incident meter reading). If you have a very dark complexioned subject in an RGB file, and you raise the "curves" to lighten the subject, the skin contrast will come up with them, and thus the color saturation making the skin look too red. So lift the camera exposure ahead of time to get them roughly where you would want them to print.

    I've never done nude figure work nor bodyscapes, so I can't speak knowledgeably about it. But I'd be inclined use a darkish background and to do as Bob suggests, using back or side lighting to bring in specular highlights. This lets you print fairly dark while still showing shape, etc. If you're not familiar with the book, "Light Science & Magic..." you might check your library and read the section called "Black on black," or something to that effect. It discusses how to show something light enough to see detail, yet maintain the impression that it is black. It's a bit of a balancing act.

    Best wishes on your shoot.
  7. Depending on how you meter, this might happen automatically. A spot meter on the model will be somewhat weighted for the darker skin.

    On the other hand, don't meter just on the skin, or it will come out too light.

    Assuming C-41 film, you have a lot of overexposure latitude, so it isn't so bad to use some of it.

    You might find a non-nude model for a lower price, which could get a good first approximation.
  8. Back in the day, one of the 'mail-order' photography schools used to give their students a styrofoam head for practice.

    A quick Google™ reveals that there are many vendors selling these (sometimes for wig storage). I also see full body and other body parts offered in styrofoam. Although you need to choose your paint carefully so it doesn't melt the foam, these can be painted.
    It may be that some local clothing store has an old mannikin you could buy.

    Whatever, it's sure to be cheaper than paying a live model.

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