Sharon Arnoldi is a family photographer specializing in families with small kids  


How To Photograph A Laptop In A Dark Room | Studio Tutorial

Its fun to get a behind the scenes look at how a photograph is produced.  There was no happy accident here, everything was controlled within the studio.  Thanks Sean for being my model.  The mood and thought behind this image was a student up late at night working on a project in the dark.

The Final Image:

How I got here: (Production shots taken with my iphone)

The final image is composed of 3 images, Shot 1, Shot 2 and a screen shot.

SHOT 1: 
In the first shot I used a ProPhoto strobe with a softbox for the main light source, which is placed slightly above & behind the laptop.  I chose a softbox to project soft light as to mimic light coming directly from the laptop screen.  Don't be fooled the shutterspeed in this image isn't slow enough to capture any light from the laptops screen. 

I used a tungsten light with a blue gel to light up the hands and give the face a little rim light.  You can see the touches the tungsten adds to the image when you look at Sean's left hand - at his knuckles.  I had to add a blue gel to the light to match the color of the light to the main light.  I could have used another strobe here instead of the tungsten light but I didn't have anything small enough to put back there.

I used a scrim as a bounce board to light up the right edge of the laptop.  This shows up much more in shot #2 but I wanted to have it placed correctly for the first shot.  It is about 3 ft from the laptop and it adds just enough punch without going overboard.

I used a 4x5 Camera with a Leaf back (digital back).  The camera is tethered to a different laptop and shows the photos as I shoot.  This allows me to see the entire final image on a large screen so I know what works and what doesn't.

SHOT 2:  
This shot uses the exact same setup except Sean isn't in the image.  I used a longer shutterspeed for this image.  The purpose for shot 2 is to get the keyboard as glowy as possible.  The keyboard from this image will be superimposed into the first image to maximize keyboard glow. 

I did a screen shot on my desktop computer to superimpose onto the laptop's screen - I should have used the laptop because my desktop screen is much wider than the laptop screen so I had to delete a chunk of the middle of the screen so everything fit and looked normal.  In the end it looks fine.  I used the Photoshop Perspective & Warp tools to get the screen in there at the right angle.  I thought it would be silly to make it like Sean was editing the same image and looking online for Photoshop tutorials.

Hope you enjoyed this! Feel free to email or add comments if you have any questions.


James Billett said...

Hey, loved the post. Looking at modern images of phones, tablets and laptops on the screen there is always a line separating a darker and lighter side. Is this line the reflection of a softbox edge?