I completed a shoot with up-and-coming Bristol Burlesque artist Ally Katte recently. The idea was to create some vaguely Alberto Vargas-like pin-up images. While the living room in my rented flat is larger than many a crummy buy-to-let shoebox, it’s still not an ideal space in which to work but with some canny lighting arrangements and clever tools it can be done quite easily.
Alberto Vargas pinups tended to ‘float in white space’ so I was looking for a high-key set-up. Done the traditional, standard way, this really needs three times as much space as I had and loads of lights. Luckily, I have a Lastolite Hilite background, which I have used successfully for events work and creating easy on-site ‘hi-key’.
The HiLite is a bit like a massive 6’x7’ softbox. With a reasonably powerful flash head – I use a Bowens Gemini 500ws head – you just need to pop it inside and, hey-presto, a well-lit hi-key brackground. You can easily use just one light for this, but if you insert two either end the light is going to be more even but you don’t really need to. I just used one in this instance.
You meter your subject as normal and, like traditional hi-key, you’re looking to get the background around two stops over. Lastolite claim that the Hilite allows you to but your subject ‘right on the background’ but this isn’t completely true – perhaps you can get a little closer, but too close and the edges of your subject get hazy and eaten-away. To meter the background, simply place your meter’s dome against the fabric pointing inwards and hey-presto. Lastolite recommend two-stops brighter than the key light but you get get away with a bit less if you’re having problems with hazy edges.