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Laura & Michelle | Yoga – Fitness Shoot | Sonic Yoga Center, NYC

This is Part II of the fitness/yoga shoot I did for my good friend Laura (part I).  Since this was more of a personal shoot, I approached it as an opportunity to experiment with a very different lighting approaches.  We started with a fairly straightforward “well lit” shots – in a style, that you are most likely to see on the websites of yoga schools and gyms, but pretty quickly I got bored with that and we switched to a more the studio photography inspired approach that I tend to favor – dark, with lots of shadows and only key areas of the image lit well.

This was also the first shoot that I attempted to do by using mostly small speed lights (canon 580EXII). I did use the Elinchrom Quadra as an overhead light – but mostly because I did not have any way to mount the modifiers I wanted to use overhead on a speed light.  I wanted to provide basic notes on the setup for anyone who is interested, but not experienced with flash photography.  Also, it might be interesting for anyone who is used to studio strobes but have not done much with small flashes.  When you come from a studio experience its easy to dismiss the speed lights as not being powerful enough or flexible enough.  Also, I think too many photographers get hung up on avoiding “hard light” – which is a mistake as it’s only bad if you don’t know what to do with it :).  I think its important to point out that if I did have the right bracket I could have done everything with speed lights.

One of my favorite shots. (Elinchrom Quadra with beauty dish above and a 580 pointing into the wall behind Laura)

Most of the well lit shots were done by simply bouncing 2 speed lights into the ceiling. The flashes were on 2 sides of the model between the camera and model. Setting one of the flashes to a lower power allows to control which side of the body gets a bit more light which provides you with more natural looking shadows.

Michelle actually joined us mostly to help Laura with alignment – but to her surprise quickly ended up being an integral part of the shoot 🙂

Below: Single bare bulb canon 580 to the right of the camera

Below: Done with the single beauty dish above Michelle. Beauty dish being a fairly hard light source at that distance provides a very contrasty light which is awesome for showing definition in the muscles and shape in general.

Below: canon 580 in the Westcott apollo softbox on the left and a beauty dish above Michelle.

Below: Lit with a single speed light sitting on the floor right in front of Laura – you can actually see it next to her leg if you pay attention. Honl rust gel filter provides beautiful & saturated color.

Below: Interesting example where combination of the tension created in the shoulders and upper back and just the right light really show Laura’s musculature. The shadows hiding her sides and slim waist create an impression of a very wide & powerful back.


Special thanks goes to the owners of the Sonic Yoga that so generously allowed us to use their beautiful space.

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