Creating dramatic images draws on the imagination of the photographer. Past experiences, previous and self assignments as well as trying new approaches, provides a level of confidence from which the creative photographer will go the extra mile to bring the components together that will define a work of art and a salable image.
The setting was the Arizona Commemorative Air Force Museum in Mesa, Arizona, November 1, 2015. I had organized a 1940's Hollywood Lighting Workshop, sponsored by Tempe Camera, Profoto, Sony, Tamron and Manfrotto. This was the fourth year I had put this program together at this facility with the theme of 1940's Hollywood in the setting of WWII aircraft.
In order to be able to include the full length of the aircraft in the shot, it was necessary to set the lights about 10 feet from our model, Shelby Pippin. The position of the lights can be seen in the above pullback photo. The overhead lights in the Air Museum provided enough ambient light level to illuminate the aircraft, such that the function of the four lights illuminating Shelby were specifically positioned to illuminate our model.
While the above lighting diagram depicts the lighting formula, note that the positions of the main and fill lights are actually reversed in the pullback photo. Yet, the overall effect of lighting remains the same. Typically in an interior scenario, the ambient light level is such that setting the camera for ISO 400, f-5.6 and a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second will provide a good balance, bringing our model about one stop above the ambient light level. This is worked out in my book, "Creative OCF Lighting Techniques for Photographers", by the use of flash guide numbers as the means to determine flash to subject distance and the resulting aperture or f-stop to use to properly illuminate our subject.
A further example of a similar setup, where the lights are brought in closer to the model for a tighter portrait.
In this pullback photo, the lights are closer to our model, Paulina Silva, as a tighter portrait is the objective. Notice how the two strip boxes to either side of Paulina and slightly back, provide edge lighting as well as illuminating her hair. Not only does this create separation between the subject and the background, it mimics the style of Hollywood in the 40's.