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09 Apr '19

Lighting ancient statues with a speedlight and color filters

Posted by David Honl

Light Modifiers used on this shoot:

I travelled to Mt. Nemrut in Southeast Turkey to photograph the curious group of statue heads, believed to have been erected around a royal tomb in the 1st Century. At some point in their history these heads sat atop the carved bodies several yards above on the hilltop behind the heads. My goal was to photograph the heads to show their final resting place as well as the original carved bodies watching down on them. 

It was a rainy 3 hour drive from my hotel in Sanliurfa and once I arrived at the base a dense fog bank started to roll in, and after a 25 minute hike to the top a light snow began to dust the ground. The light was very flat and as the minutes ticked, the visibility between the statue heads and the bases on top of the hill was diminishing quickly. I took a few ambient test exposures and one with a Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a Honl Photo traveller8 Softbox. Still very flat.

I quickly added 2 Honl Full CTO Filters to the speedlight with soft box and set my camera's white balance to 2500K (a bit cooler that tungsten). The result is a deep blue background with a warm tone on the statue head. The traveller8 gave just the right amount of spread and feathering on the statue and the smaller rocks at the base. A bare flash would have spread the light too much and taken the attention away from the ancient face.

All in all, a successful shoot, even under the ever-demanding Mother Nature!

Light Modifiers used on this shoot:

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Posted by Shirley Watt on September 03, 2020

This is so cool. You really brought out the story and emotion from a rather flat, nondescript scene. You amaze me!

Posted by Andy Atkins on February 13, 2018

I like the way you set up inonder to shoot those ancrant brade
The resale is good i like That

Posted by Jean-yves bourdages on April 02, 2016

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