It doesn’t really take too much imagination when you have a muscleman in front of your lens to picture him as a green mass with purple highlights. It’s either because I’m a male, or because I have a three-year-old son. Anyhow, this just had to happen when I was making pictures with Nik.

Theater lighting

I don’t know about you, but if a movie or a play is poorly-lit, I can’t even watch it. But, if it’s well-lit, then even if it’s poorly written I can pay attention to the lighting and have a good time anyway. Well, I once attended a play and learned a cool lighting lesson (which tells you something about the play).

See, they never made the stage completely dark except during scene changes. Instead, they constantly had a deep blue light shining on the whole stage. Individuals would have a spotlight on them, but the shadow side of their body or face always had this cool blue light instead of being completely black.

As Nik stood there flexing, I remembered this lesson about using light as a shadow, about using color as a shadow. I also knew I wanted detail and texture on the well-lit side. Hard lights show texture well, so I planned to make the green light hard.

It would have been ideal to be on a large stage with hundreds of magenta lights overhead to fill in the shadows. Instead, we were in a conference room with a black backdrop and eight-foot ceilings. So, I used a softbox for the magenta light to make it larger and more subtle than the green light.

Comic colors

You can color your lights using gels. Gels are colored and transparent and change the color of any light you put them on. My favorites are from MagMod, but there are many kinds and sizes of gels out there.

Consider your colors and the moods they invoke. Study a little about the color wheel and complementary, secondary, tertiary, analogous and all the other kinds of color relationships you can make with your gels. Or, better yet, just take a look at a comic book. Those artists use color relationships really well.

For this picture, it was super easy to use the Hulk’s classic colors of green and magenta. In fact, those colors are so classic that Lou Ferrigno’s body screamed “green,” even on my little black and white TV when I was a kid.

Balance the light

With a big soft magenta light and hard green light, all that’s left is to mess around until the tones are looking good. You don’t have to worry too much about how saturated the colors are in your pictures because even a little bit of color can be enhanced easily in Lightroom, Luminar, Photoshop or whatever app you use. Even the built-in software in your camera that converts RAW photos to JPEGs can do a great job. So don’t worry about the color, just get the brightness relationship looking good. But, as you mess with it, remember that when using gels less power makes a more saturated color.

It’s surprisingly easy to find folks with superhero bodies who want to be in pictures. Folks who compete in form or bodybuilding love to be in photos. With Halloween coming up, you should definitely find some friends to play with light make some colorful pictures.

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