A few weeks ago I set out on a Sunday to wander the city and see what I could find. After a day of art, antiques, and swap-meet sushi I took the scenic route home through Independence Missouri. It was getting late on Sunday and not much was open in downtown Independence, but I drove around the square for kicks. The sun had not set and it was still warm outside. I saw the front door propped open to a photography studio on the main square. I had there before and pressed my face to the window but they were closed. Plowman Photography, the large sign above the building read.
I stuck my head in the door and gave a “hello?”. The building was filled from wall to wall with photography equipment, books, props, backgrounds, prints, lighting stands, etc……….it seemed to go on for miles. I heard some shuffling in the back as an older gentleman with a silver beard and all black clothes came to the door. He seemed very busy but said he could take the time for a quick visit. I told him I was a photographer and was just curious about his studio and his equipment. It looked like maybe he was getting ready to sell things. We chatted a bit about the state of his studio and life in general.
His name is Gary Plowman. He invited me in and we had a great visit. He gave me a tour of his studio, and some great tips on studio lighting and few more on life. He had a room in his studio that was dedicated to High Key Portraits. It was lit with a collection of hot lights pointing in every direction in the corner of the room. We went through his portfolio and he showed how the bounce from all of the lights created a soft glow to the room.We visited for hours and he gave me several items from his studio to take with me. He sent me home with a few light stands, umbrellas, and a Styrofoam cup light meter. (the cup is a story for another day)
The bounce is something I have been missing since my move to the new studio. I love my space, but it is dark. This lack of bounce just means I have to work a little harder to get a nice soft fill light. This Sunday was an experiment in bounce. I built my high key room from insulation panels from Home Depot and used some movie lights as my hot lights. Half way through my shoot I lost one of the lights. Hot lights are great because they are always on, unlike strobe, and you can see how the adjustments with affect your lighting. I started the shoot with Tigger as my model. He is always ready to work, but his fuzzy fur makes it difficult to judge the harshness of the shadows. Flying solo today I was left to be my own model.