Leo in Layers

Red Club, red shoes, red guitar. How lucky can a photographer get?

Leo “Bud” Welch spent a great deal of his life as a lumberjack, and picked up music and instruments along the way. He began recording late in life, and started gigging in clubs and bars, recording a few albums along the way. Wonderful man, wonderful talent.

And….wonderful style. I took my cue from the Rockwood Music Hall on Allen St. in NYC, which has a red motif. Didn’t ask Leo to wear those shoes and that suit! Wish I could take credit for that little piece of genius, but it was all him.

Speedlights on this. No big flash. We ran a pic of Leo over on our Instagram and there were some lighting questions. Basic response here, across the board, is that I try in a situation like this to make the light look like that light that is already there. In the instance below, the backlight on his head and shoulder is a red gelled Speedlight. Small gelled source, a serious distance from the subject. No shaper, just raw light, played faintly.

There was also a question about managing reflections. There’s no magic bullet for reflections, as they vary, but what I do find is that if I deploy broad, smooth sources, like soft boxes, or diffuser panels, the highlights and reflections also tend to be smooth, and not spectral and jarring. Hope that notion helps.

And there were steps leading down into the club, with a big, windowed door. So, with hot shoe flash, I just mimicked and amplified the daylight I saw already streaming into the club from the street and that outer door. 3×6 Lastolite diffuser, and a couple of small flash sources, and I made the main light for Leo.

And, being an irresistible subject, you move closer.

And closer.

My editor at LIFE always talked about doing a story in terms of peeling an onion, or peeling the layers back. That is certainly what you can do with small, mobile light sources. Move. Get close. Change lenses, which immediately changes your perspective. Be nimble. All the new gear allows you to do that. Up to us to use all this new tech in creative ways.

Cameras and lights, new tech. Subject? Classic. Old school. Good day in the field.

More tk….