Violin Photos 2

In my quest to get better at portraits with artificial lighting, I decided, at the urging of my photo group co-conspirators, to re-shoot the photos of Tyler with his violin, but with a few changes. Their main complaints had been that the background needed something going on, and that I needed to focus more on the relationship between him and his violin. It seemed that I was close enough on the mark that it would be worth refining the original concept I had.

So I schlepped my equipment (including the sweet new reflector disk my parents gave me for Christmas) over to his apartment, with the aim of capturing more the story of him playing alone in his own space. Even though I know one wouldn’t practice violin on the bed, I had him sit there as it seemed like the most telling spot, with the bare dresser in the background.


These were shot with a single naked flash. Well, the one above had an umbrella over the flash since I was trying to imitate natural light, but then I decided it wasn’t working. The one below was shot with just a bare flash on the end of the bed, and all the others had the flash behind his shoulder and a reflector at the foot of the bed to fill in his silhouette some.


I really like the sort of 1920s cinema look to this, with the dramatic directional light and huge shadow on the wall.


This one I thought it was cool how the bright flash makes his fingers translucent.


This one was sort of an accident, but I liked the strangeness of the pose, I guess.

I didn’t really turn up the flash as much as I should have, so some of the photos had to be pretty heavily brightened in Lightroom and got kind of noisy.


And, best for last:


This one really captures my original inspiration, the lighting on his hands and their tension, with the more graceful shape and gleams of the violin. I’m happy I finally got something that was what I had in mind after seeing him play initially, and I think that gleam on the instrument just looks really cool!

Thanks Tyler, for being my model so patiently across multiple sessions! How would I get my portrait-taking practice in without you?

4 Responses to “Violin Photos 2”

  1. Ariana
    | Reply

    WOW that last one is an amazing picture! I don’t think I could ever learn to manipulate light like that, that sounds incredibly difficult…

    • ellen
      | Reply

      Thanks Ariana! I’m pretty pleased with it, yeah … although I have to admit that I’m not sure I was “manipulating” the light like that, as it was kind of just happenstance. :)

      I took a lot more photos than are posted here – these are just the best – and they all look pretty similar except for the position of violin/bow/hands/etc. As I think I mentioned in the previous violin photos post, it’s tough to photograph him playing – because he has to be playing for it to look believable – as it necessitates him being in constant motion to make sound. That makes it kind of hard to anticipate where his bow and hands will be at any given moment (and yes, we did try have him bowing a single note slowly – it just didn’t have the same quality) … and with the flash right behind his elbow, it doubled the difficulty. Several photos I discounted did look kind of cool because of the incredibly bright light radiating from under his arm and washing everything out though.

  2. Ruby
    | Reply

    Great images of Tyler and his violin. I do especially love the last one of his fingers on the bow and strings. Sorry that you are leaving Rochester and do wish you well in your new job and life. If and when you come back up “North”, please know that you can join me, any time, at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, for more photography adventures.

    • ellen
      | Reply

      Thanks, Ruby! I’m in the middle of moving at the moment, but up until Sunday I had been working on lots of visual things for the musical Tyler is in, so be sure to check back when I’ve sorted through those to see lots more of him in that capacity!

      I saw the sign on the thruway today for the Genesee Country Village, and thought of how nice it would be visit again and take photos with you. Maybe in the summer or fall I would find an excuse to be up that direction again… ;)

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