This week I went downtown to McNally’s Irish Pub to photograph Kenny Townsend, the bartender that Inside Columbia magazine just rated as the best in Columbia, Mo. I started off using direct flash (it’s for class, and I had to use both direct and bounce). Naturally, I used my new Panera-straw grid for the direct flash.
I used the grid to make him stand out from the dark bar, but without lighting up the entire place in a way that would be unnatural, especially for a tight shot. For a wider composition, I felt I had to bounce the flash off of the ceiling (below). But this gridded spotlight also made clear that the focus wasn’t just the bar, but the bartender himself.
Of course, the composition also leaves something to be desired. So I switched to a broader view, and was much happier with the result.
Here, he’s pouring a gin and tonic for a customer. (More after the jump…)
The light is bounced off of the (surprisingly dark) ceiling, which had a tendency to eat about two stops of light–and I was calculating the exposure based on the guide number and the distance up to the ceiling and back down to the subject, and was consistently off by two stops. Fortunately, even though it’s a dark ceiling, it doesn’t seem to contribute a color cast to the image!
I was much happier with the result of this photo. However, the best moment came a few frames later, but it was lacking technically. For this particular class, toning is not permissible (the idea being to perfect the technique in camera to get the best possible original prior to toning, but not to use toning to cover up technical flaws.
However, just because I cannot do it for class, doesn’t mean I can’t share the moment here:
Finally, to get a sense of what I was doing, I’ve included the lighting diagrams for the first two images. The final photograph’s lighting setup is roughly identical to the second image.