Light Lines

Enhance abstractions with the right illumination A STILL-LIFE specialist, Joshua Scott ( created this eye-popping abstraction as a portfolio piece to showcase his studiolighting, propping, and prepping skills. was for my book that goes out to art buyers and photo editors, and I wanted to wow them with some bright energy," says this New York-based pro. Itgot that and a whole lot more: line, form, dimension, and color. All brought to vibrant life thanks to great lighting. His secret? let the product dictate how it is lit," he says. this case, what attracted me to the straws was their translucent quality, color, and length. Side-to-side backlighting by a lightbox would best serve all these properties, so thatwhat I used.” Scott started by picking subjects of compatible hue, using uniformly warm tones. He could have created an equally lively effect by using cool-toned or even complementary hues from across the color wheel (magenta with green, or blue with yellow). What makes his colors pop, however, is Scottcareful backlighting, set to produce just the right ratio of front to back light. He arrived at this ratio by incrementally adjusting the power levels of the top and bottom strobes until the colors looked deeply saturated while the straws remained translucent. light ratios and how they impact the final image is crucial to building up various light sources into one overall exposure," he says. of the most valuable tools was my lightmeter. It showed exactly how much top and bottom light was stiking the subject.” Defining the shape of the straws took just as much trial-and-error effort. Scott started by highlighting the straws with sidelights: two Broncolor strobes on opposite edges of the set. This produced noticeable flare, which he throttled back first by adding focusing grids to each sidelight, then by surrounding the light table with 6-inch black cards to swallow some light and bump up overall contrast. Doing so emphasized the shape of each straw by adding weight and presence along their tops, in contrast to the brighter edges. The hardest task in Scottproject? Picking through hundreds of straws to find only the cleanest, most perfect, and least crimped or creased specimens.

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