Shooting A Goat Strobist Style

Last year we spent new years on a friends farm in portugal as you do, and I became aquatinted with a rather lovely goat. You may think me strange to talk of a goat in such fond terms but I can honestly say if I were to have a pet it would be a goat. I can’t speak for all goats as this is the only one I’ve met but she had the daintiness of a persian cat, the doting nature of a labrador and, it has to be said, the stubbornness of a mule. There was quite a bit of post work to do on this photograph which I have only just got around to doing, hence why I’m writing about it almost a year later.

Having decided I had to do a shoot with her we dragged her into the house by her horns, which she did not like at all, but once she was in the house she was immediately content to tentatively wonder around examining the carpet, the sofa upholstery, and Gemma’s legs. Getting her to stand still for the shot was absolutely hilarious as my brother and my sister’s boyfriend chased around the room coaxing it to behave. Funnily enough I think it was merely a communication problem, because when we got her in the position in the photograph she happily held that position for quite some time. In fact, I swear she started posing. Hit the jump for some of the rather amusing attempts previous to this shot and the lighting info.

And there it is folks, you saw it here first. A goat posing.

Strobist Info:

The lighting was quite tricky on this shoot because all I had with me were two vivitar 285 strobes and one coroplast grid spot. No umbrella, no soft box and no beauty dish. All of which would have been nice to have, but since this shoot, I have definitely learned that white walls are your friend.   So: the key light here is a grided flash, camera right, shooting straight into gemma’s face. I love the way gridded light looks – just as long as the sitter is looking more or less straight into it. In most cases anyway. It is easy to over cook it as well so one has to be careful to keep the power down.   The other strobe is to my left and shooting into the wall behind me. This flash serves two purposes – one is to lift the shadows to a level the camera can work with on the left hand side of the frame and two it softens the hard shadows cast by the gridded key light to an acceptable level. I tried to fill by shooting the second light straight into the frame but it was too obviously lit from two directions casting complicated ‘double shadows’ in both directions. I have found since, even big soft lights such as an umbella or softbox can do that too, so bouncing off a big white wall for light that looks like it is coming from nowhere has become a regular technique for me particularly in small spaces.   After the fray I took two more shots of the frame, one with a strobe in the lamp as the bulb came nowhere close to exposing correctly at my chosen camera settings and another with the grided flash aimed roughly from its original position at the picture frame on the wall. I then stiched in the lamp and picture frame in post. Again having two more flashes would have saved me considerable post work but at least I got the shot. Missing that opportunity would have really got my goat.

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