A delightful woman named Ann came over to sit for me today and towards the end of the shoot I thought I'd try some close-up portraits of her face with her hair pulled back. Ideally for what I was trying to do, I'd have some strip boxes, basically a narrow (6-10") softbox that lets you have a soft band of light that you can control more easily. I don't have one, so this setup was thrown together. On her left was a White Lightning strobe with a 60" softliter, and on her right was a small alien bee 400 with a large softbox. It was the best I could do.
Ok, so this is an example of the differences that light choices and camera settings and post processing can make to a very simple image.
The image on the left was shot with just the While Lightning firing. Even at it's lowest power and me at iso 100, I had to stop down to f/3.5 or something like that.
For the shot on the right I used only the modelling lamps on the the two strobes. Basically using them as low power hot lights with 250W bulbs in them. It was shot at iso 400 wide open at f/1.2. It's hard to tell in the small web size, but nothing save her eyes and lips are in focus. There was window light coming into the apartment too, illuminating the gray paper behind her. The upshot of this is that when you set the white balance for the tungsten color on her face, it shifts the sunlit gray paper to blue. Pretty cool, eh?
I was trying to finish this up by stating which one I prefer, but I end up going back and forth. They're different, and I'm sure people will have their preference. I thought we might as well talk some specifics of technique here while we're at it.