This last weekend was the 65th annual Westercon science fiction convention at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport Double Tree Hotel. While the programming department worked me hard with all of my panels I was on I still found time to meet new people, make friends, and have amazing things happen. Here's one such amazing thing.

During the course of my panels I referenced David Hobby's blog The Strobist. (It's a fantastic resource and a wondrous community for learning to light!) In particular, I talked about the idea of using a bed sheet to create a global-wrap-around light for minimizing glare on surfaces you're lighting during the panel "Reproducing Your Art". (David talks about using the sheet in a portrait to create on access light of huge proportions.)

After the panel Frank Wu, the artist guest of honor for the convention, asked if I wanted a fun challenge. And by "fun challenge" I mean to say, he asked if I would shoot his painting in the art show as he had just finished it that morning and didn't have any records of it. 

With the blessing of Westercon's art show staff, Sunday morning I setup my lights.

Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography. www.stopped-motion.comWhenever you are shooting on location, your control over the situation is limited. In this case, the paintings I was shooting were hung on the walls of the show in the corner and surrounded by his other works and the works of his wife. In a perfect world, I would set up a sheet on the left and one on the right but with that right side panel, that wasn't going to happen.

I set up the bed sheet from my hotel room hung it camera left, using one light stand the left side panel, and used it as my giant light. My initial set ups were too close to the painting and I would get hot spot reflections. I moved the flash back as far as I could go and dialed down the power on it until that hot spot was gone.

I didn't have the same luxury on the other side because of that panel on the right so I had to use a SpeedLight and a white shoot through umbrella but I couldn't get the flash far enough away to light the right side of the paintings without a hot spot. What was the solution to this problem? I bounced the light off of the ceiling in the room.

Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography.

If this picture isn't clear enough, here's a diagram.

Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography.

The final piece of the puzzle was to open up the aperture to an f2.8 to let a lot of light in and reduce the power output of the flashes down. Both flashes were set to  1/64 power.

Here are the three finished images of the painting.

Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography. Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography. Copyright 2012, Stopped Motion Photography.

Gorgeous, aren't they?

These paintings are copyright 2012, Frank Wu and are used with permission.