Author: Chad Foreman

Published On: September 14th, 2017

Back To School

It’s that time of year again, back to school. As a 43-year-old college student, it’s that time of my life. Only 1 semester and 9 weeks to go until I complete my Bachelor of Arts in Art with a specialization in digital photography! I get to enjoy that “Back to School feeling” once again, possibly for my last time. Hopefully not. I enjoy school so much I would love to go to grad school.

In January of 2017, after an 8-year break from last school, West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery, I started at West Virginia State University. It’s located just West of Charleston in Institute, West Virginia. On my first day I discovered there were lockers in the hallway. Not only that, but we can sign up for a locker and use it. So I did. The first time I opened that locker door, I was instantly transported back to 1992. That is the year I graduated high school and the last time I have looked into the open door of a hallway locker. It was a strange experience. I wanted to attempt to document that sensation with this picture.

This picture is a class assignment for Art 452 Advanced Digital Photography. One great thing about this class is that I get to make up my own curriculum. Seeing as how I have a desire to work as a professional photographer, I already have a pretty good idea of what I want to do. The main goal of this class is to prepare work for my senior show. This includes documenting my progress on this blog. Subscribe, for updates!

Something I am working on is creating unique environmental portraits with dynamic lighting. To do this, I first come up with a plan. After I have a plan of what I want to create, I choose a strategy for how I want to light my scene.

Here is the plan and strategy for this picture:


Starting with correct exposure for the scene.

First I get some general light readings of the scene as it occurs so that I could set the exposure for my background. I wanted the scene to be dark for a mysterious look. So I chose to reduce the exposure of the scene by 3 stops of light. I wanted a narrow depth of field so I set my aperture at f1.4. The hall is actually pretty bright so I had to use a fast shutter speed of 1/1600 of a second. ISO 100.

Next, I set my key light. I wanted the light coming out of the locker to be the brightest light in the scene. There are 2 speedlites in the locker. One in top, one in bottom. They were both on group A, set to the same output power. Using my light meter, I reduced the output until it matched my camera setting.


Measuring light output from key light.

For my fill light, I wanted to go one stop lower for my fill light. However, my light meter only goes down to f1.0. How could I get a lower reading? I needed to stop down to f5.6 on my camera and then slow my shutter speed by two stops to maintain the same exposure. Since we are dealing with ratios and they are scalable, I would just change the aperture back to f1.4 and the shutter speed back to 1/1600 and everything will remain the same. I softened the light with a little 8 inch soft box from “Life of Photo.”

Determining exposure for the fill light.

Determining exposure for the fill light.

Finally, I added my kicker light. I used a standard 7″ reflector with a 30 degree grid and a set of barn doors to focus the light.

Adding the kicker light for a rim light effect against the dark background.

Adding the kicker light for a rim light effect against the dark background.

The “smokey-looking” purple haze is chalk dust. I wanted to use it to add some substance to the light beams coming out of the locker. In the Spring of 2017 I took a film photography class. The film photography professor, Molly, likes old fashioned things. We even made hand-churned ice cream in class because the whole class went the entire semester without mixing up the chemicals in the dark room. She uses chalk boards in her class. I thought that was fitting for the whole “throw-back” theme of the picture.