Ginny Dixon: Using Strip Lights for Dramatic Portraits

Jesus3 Pf 2016 590 391

I'm Light Leader Ginny Dixon and I work as a professional photographer and an instructor at Miami Ad School in Wynwood, the art district in Miami, Florida.

I shoot a lot of portrait work and the Photoflex HalfDome (strip lights) are my favorite light modifiers because I love the contrast they create and how they wrap light while keeping it very contained and directional. I usually start portrait sessions with two HalfDomes placed in the 2 o’clock and 7 o’clock positions. This is just a technique I’ve come up with after spending many years as a newspaper photographer. With newspaper assignments it’s important and a necessity to come up with quick set ups that allow you to get several different looks in a short period of time. Most often we would have 10 to 30 minutes with a subject.

Below is from a recent shoot with makeup artist Jesus Bravo. The rear half dome is set 1 stop higher than the front (key) light in order to give some contrast. These light modifiers are really great at wrapping the light around the subject and causing separation from the background. The camera is set at ISO 100 f16@100.

After getting the first shot done, I then come in for a close-up, with the same settings like the example below.

With the addition of the V-Flats it allows for a nice well balanced fill.

For the last shot I kill one of the lights and open up to f9 for a ¾ Rembrandt style of lighting. I then follow with turning the subject and doing something like this to create a little drama.

Ginny Dixon spent most of the last 30 years making pictures at major newspapers and national and international magazines. She also had the privilege of being a member of two Pulitzer Prize-winning staffs at the Los Angeles Times in 1992 and 1994. Assignments have taken her to many parts of the world chasing beautiful light and stealing moments from interesting people and places. See more of her work at her website.

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