In cooperation with our partners for memory solutions

In cooperation with our partners for memory solutions

Marnus Meyer

Midnight Blue

A deep, dark shade of blue creates the perfect backdrop to photograph a subject. The colour allows for a certain sense of depth, while drawing the eyes to central focal points. It's also an effective way of contrasting colours and allows the photographer to either highlight or manipulate textures. But as beautiful as a dark blue backdrop can be, it can also easily swallow light, drown the subject in shadow, and thus result in a very stark, unattractive composition. 
When I saw a few photographs of Cape Town-based model Marizaan, I knew I wanted to photograph her against a dark blue background. Her fair skin and deep brown hair made it the natural choice for me. I consulted with makeup artist, Teri Tomsette, who suggested the red lip, dramatic eyelashes, and the wet hair look, and so the whole concept for the shoot was born. But with this concept, came the challenges of photographing against a dark background. 
To achieve the best results, I used a Para 88 as the main light and used a P65 reflector covered with silk as a fill light. The Para 88 was placed quite at a high angle to highlight the cheekbones.  I placed a 5ft Octa on a boom above the Marizaan’s head that not only acted as an overall fill but also helped separate Marizaan’s dark hair from the background. I adjusted the angle of the octa so that some of it would spill onto the dark navy backdrop and lighten it even more. I did not want the light from the octabox to overpower the overall lighting, so I kept the power on a low setting. I added two 1x4 strip boxes on either side of the Para to add extra fill to the right and left side of the face as I wanted to keep the lighting symmetrical. This also focused some more light onto Marizaan’s cheekbones. I have found that the Para 88 can sometimes create shadows that are too harsh, so I try and use it in combination with various fill lights. What was really amazing about using the Para 88, strip boxes and P65 together, was how it made Marizaan’s eyes pop. Although the backdrop was quite dark, I did not use any additional lights to light it.  I played around with the distance between Marizaan and the backdrop to get the right exposure on the backdrop. All my lights were paired between two Scoro 3200 S studio packs.

1

Main light: Para 88
Fill light:  P65 with silk to soften the light a little bit
Hair light and overall fill: Octabox on a very low power setting

Pic 11

Main light: Para 88
Fill light:  P65 with silk to soften the light a little bit
Hair light and overall fill: Octabox on a very low power setting
Additional fill lights: Two 1x4 strip boxes placed on either side of the Para 88 used to add light to the left and right side of the face. The power on these were quite low.

2

3

Main light: Para 88
Fill light:  P65 with silk to soften the light a little bit
Hair light and overall fill: Octabox on a very low power setting

Pic 33

4

Main light: Para 88
Fill light:  P65 with silk to soften the light a little bit
Hair light and overall fill: Octabox on a very low power setting
Additional fill lights: Two 1x4 strip boxes placed on either side of the Para 88 used add light to the left and right side of the face. The power on these were quite

5

Main light: Para 88
Fill light:  P65 with silk to soften the light a little bit
Hair light and overall fill: Octabox on a very low power setting
Additional fill lights: Two 1x4 strip boxes placed on either side of the Para 88 used to add light to the left and right side of the face. The power on both strip boxes were pushed higher than on previous shots. The left strip box was on a higher power than the right one as I wanted the left side to be a bit brighter than the right

The final result is a series of strong beauty portraits with carefully balanced layers of light. Note how Marizaan’s strongest features are delicately highlighted, while the makeup is showcased without distracting attention from her natural beauty. And this is the key to lighting portraits like this: to allow each aspect to be lit in just the right way, so that when combined no part has to compete to be seen. 
This type of lighting is effective for creating powerful portraits, which are still visually appealing to just about anyone, meaning that it could be especially useful for photographers looking to create a striking beauty campaign or photo story.


Credits:
Photography by Marnus Meyer
Makeup and hair by Teri Tomsette
Model Marizaan from Fanjam Model Management
Studio: Photo Hire Cape Town
Light: broncolor