From a session for stage and screen actor, Stacey Lynne Crowe. Actor’s headshots need to be pretty simple, and must show what they really look like – so no editing allowed. I process these in Lightroom and they have contrast and exposure adjustments made to lift the shadows, knock the highlights down just a bit and then I set the white and black points. On the skin I reduce contrast a bit , and put a tenth of a top into the eyes. Then sharpen the eyes, lips, and nose and I’m done.
Category Archives: How Its made
Just playing around with the scrim I made a while back. It’s roughly 1.5x2m with a frame made from 21mm plastic waste pipe (B&Q sell this along with all the corners, T pieces, 45 degree corners etc. to make any kind of frame you want). The surface is Translum plastic which is made by Savage. You can buy it on a roll 1.5m wide. The idea is to project light onto the scrim so that it drops to nothing before it reaches the edge of the scrim – and so there’s no edge visible. You can also try projecting patterns using something like the Lightblaster however on this occasion I just wanted a classic ball of light with a nice gradual drop-off towards the edges.
Books. They’re still a good idea if you ask me, even in this age of YouTube learning (which I also love). Especially for learning something visual like say.. photography: I like to have a physical, printed book. In this post, I’m going to present some of my favourite photography related books, and why I like ‘em.
If you love the Light Blaster from Spiffy Gear, but want more GoBOs (“GOes Before Optics” – the little masks that go in front of the light, but before the focusing lens on the front of any spot projector), then you have a number of options: use 35mm slides, mount Rosco size E circular gobos on card or the little plastic adapter you can download and print, or just make your own. Whilst there are companies that will print digital images onto 35mm transparency film, I’m not looking at that option here – I nearly always want a simple, graphical shape for my work, and metal gobos are the way to go for the best results – as they always block all the light where there is no hole cut in them, and have crisper edges.
If you’ve been making shots in a studio for a while, you’ve probably collected a number of light “modifiers” – that is, reflectors, softboxes, umberellas and other bits of metal, plastic, foil and fabric to control, block, reflect and otherwise guide the light to where you want it. But do you know what they actually do? Neil Van Niekerk tested some of his light modifiers and you can the results of Neil’s tests on his excellent blog Tangents <<- click. I thought I had better test mine. I found some interesting and one or two unexpected results.
(no this is not a tailsync shot – but it is pretty cool 🙂 1/160th f/22 ISO 32 – Brian Sanger. Read on for wide apertures, high shutter speeds and blurry clouds 🙂
Intentional Camera Movement
Well, on coffee and a lack of sleep anyway. We boarded Tinkerbelle (one of the many things to like about Virgin Atlantic – they name their ‘planes like WWII bombers and this 747-400 was named after a fairy) for the 8 hour flight to Orlando. After much immigration, luggage, car pickup, instructions to retrieve key for house pickup, calls to rental company for 40 minutes after they gave us the wrong codes for the key safe.. we rolled into the Magic Kingdom at 2am UK time after dropping the luggage at the house. I was pretty punch drunk by then and the whole place took on the aspect of some bizarre dream…. I decided to try and make some alternative views of Disney by night, using long exposures….
You can do so much with just one light. One £30 YN460-II for example. There really is no excuse for not having at least one flash 🙂
Robert Harrington gave a great presentation at the B&H theatre on getting many looks out of one light – and you can watch it here. I thought this would make a great live demo for the camera club I belong to and worked out 10 or so looks to present within a 2 hour slot. I ran through them in a practice session with some fellow photographers and we got it done in 1:45. It was going to take longer on the night as I’d be waffling on about the light as we went – and hopefully, there would be questions!
Here’s my pick of the looks we did on the night with model Paris Spencer, who always does a great job on these shoots. For all of these shots, the camera is in manual exposure at 1/160th at F/8 and ISO 64 to 640. The flash is in manual, and when off the camera, is triggered by using the pop-up in commander mode. The popup does not fire during the exposure, it’s just used to send data and commands to the remote SB900.
We started with the flash on the camera – left, and the first shot is direct flash. When should you use this? Well, probably never unless it’s a bit of fill but as a main light, it sucks. I wanted to show just how bad flash lighting could be, so we took the mugshot, on the left. Paris looks like she just got arrested…
I love fog. Use it all the time. Sometimes though, I just want it on the floor. Theatres and movie sets have used liquid nitrogen (“dry ice”) for this for a long time. You can also make regular fog lie on the floor by cooling it down so it becomes denser than the surrounding air. There are a number of commercial options for doing this ranging from the £90 American DJ “Mr Kool” all the way up to liquid nitrogen foggers. There are even more DIY solutions involving lots of plumbing, and plastic bins – all of which are huge 🙂
Having sorted the general lighting and approach to shooting some smoke, here’s the next phase in my smoke project – tungsten bulbs. The tungsten filaments in these bulbs can glow white hot and not just burn up because the bulb is filled with an inert gas, such as Argon, Krypton or Xenon. The so-called “noble gases”do not interact with incandescent material, and so the filament can carry on glowing at near melting point for thousands of hours. If you turn it on in regular air however….