Key Light and a Kicker

Creating images can be done in many different ways, but in the end, it's all about the light. Some people go to create lengths to control every inch of light in their compositions, using a dozen lights or more to shoot a still life. Many more photographers shoot available light only and also produce beautiful work. I fall somewhere in the middle. I like to let the natural or ambient light be the star, even if I have to use strobes to recreate and enhance that natural light. In this photo of Olga, the bartender at Amata Restaurant on East 56th Street, I wanted to capture her warm friendliness, which, not surprisingly, was also the feel of the bar and the feel of the light coming from the front windows. But there wasn't quite enough light for taking a good image and the shadows built rapidly behind her into darkness at the other end of the bar. I solved the problem with a simple two light set up, a key light and a kicker.  The key light, off camera to the left and slightly raised, created a beautiful light for Olga and added some spark to the bottles behind her. The other end of the bar was lit by bouncing a strobe into the white ceiling, but powered down enough so as not to over-light the scene. A somewhat slow shutter speed let enough ambient light in to keep the shot feeling warm and real. We were done in about 10 minutes and Olga was back to serving her customers.

 The lovely Olga, bartender at Amata Restaurant.  28mm lens, f4 at 1/20th sec., ISO 800.

The lovely Olga, bartender at Amata Restaurant.  28mm lens, f4 at 1/20th sec., ISO 800.