Give the drummer some….


Photo © Bob Krist

My friend Tim gave me a call the other day…he needed some new shots for his website and promo material, and would I be interested? You betcha!  As James Brown used to say, you got to “give the drummer some!”

Tim is a great drummer and educator and I first met him in conjunction with a project he volunteered for through auspices of the Jonathan Krist Foundation. Tim spends a lot of time working with young guys in Trenton, making them better drummers and keeping them out of trouble.


Photo © Bob Krist

We decided to do this in my cavernous, dirty, dank garage high tech home studio, and started with a pretty straightforward portrait with a couple of his congas.

I didn’t go Strobist on this, deciding instead to use my old DynaLites, the great, compact AC strobe system I used day in and day out during my annual report shooting days.

The units have to be about 20 years old, and these days, they don’t see much use, but when you need ’em, they’re there, compact and dependable as ever.

Simple light, as always. One head into a 3×4 Chimera lightbox from camera left, and a head with a grid spot hitting the background from the floor. Not even a white fill card on the shadow side.

We got our “safe” shots and then Tim, who played football at school in Tennessee and looks like he still could tear through a defensive line, jumped into a dashiki and pulled out his African drums.

When he started playing, you could feel the power and energy, so we decided to go for a little more dramatic light. This time, we’d have the light coming from overhead.

To see how it evolved into the above shot, take a look at some other shots from the session, and grab a peek at my drive-in disaster area swanky studio setup, hit the jump.

We actually have enough height in the garage to fly up a boom stand, so I decided to change the direction of the light from the side to directly overhead. I put a small Chimera on another head and placed it right over Tim. I took the 3×4 foot Chimera off the stand and laid it on the floor. For some shots, I used it as a fill.


Photo © Bob Krist

It was kind of a cool effect, and as long as Tim kind of “played to the light” by looking up, it was a nice open type of shot.

Tim slung the drum over his shoulder, and with that same overhead light with the floor fill, looked straight at the camera.

All of a sudden, the feel goes from open and energetic to something that looks like the lead shot for a profile of Mean Joe Greene in Sports Illustrated!

We were having fun with that very dramatic look and the final tweak was turning off the light on the floor fill 3×4 Chimera, and then just going with the overhead light, and the grid head on the background (which remained the same for all the setups.).

That’s when we got my favorite shot from the session, which I converted to B&W and ran at the top of this post.

Think you might like to try this at home?  Hmmmnn well, I don’t know. You need a really high tech studio space to accomplish this, just like the one pictured at the end of this post….


Photo © Bob Krist


Photo © Bob Krist

This entry was posted in Lighting, Photo Gear, Photo Techniques.


  1. David August 27, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Bob, Love the top b&w image!

    • Bob August 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm #

      Thanks David, hope you’re well. Bob

  2. Jacques Babin August 27, 2009 at 12:46 pm #

    Bob, great lighting! What’s the tire for, btw?

    • Bob August 27, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

      Jaques: It’s a garage, it lives there:-). Actually, we thought we might need it to raise the congas a bit higher, but we didn’t in the end. BK

  3. Dana Hess August 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm #

    Very nice… what lens(es) did you use?

    • Bob August 27, 2009 at 5:44 pm #

      Dana: It was the 16-85VR on a D300. Bob

  4. Ray K August 27, 2009 at 5:26 pm #

    Your ‘studio’ is way cleaner than mine. Great work and once again you showed that it isn’t the place or equipment it is what is in the photographer and subject that makes great images.

    • Bob August 27, 2009 at 5:45 pm #

      Ray, If my place is cleaner than somebody’s, then there’s always hope! Bob

  5. Bill Reade August 27, 2009 at 7:57 pm #

    Wonderful work as always Bob. I agree with all the B&W
    is great. I have always loved B&W portraits. Did you do
    the convertion in photoshop or SilverPro?

    • Bob August 28, 2009 at 9:20 am #

      Bill: Just Photoshop for the conversion. I’ve heard that Nik program is great though.

  6. arun August 28, 2009 at 8:05 am #

    Hey Bob – (Ahem) I have one of those high tech swanky studios as well !! ( snicker snicker )
    I love images of musicians myself – the first one here is quite dramatic – great work.

    • Bob August 28, 2009 at 9:20 am #

      Hi Arun: Yes, high tech studios are fun…and you can change your oil in them too…

  7. Gary September 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm #

    No wonder my motorcycle had to sit in the rain. No room in the INN!

    • Bob September 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

      Gary: We should have done a shot of you on it for posterity. Next time! Bob

  8. JayMitch September 11, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    Bob, that B&W shot is absolutely remarkable. Brilliantly done.

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