This time we concentrated on one shot – a backlit interior concept with volumetric light (i.e. light given volume by some medium – in this case, an even fog). Caspar reprised his previous outfit, now complete with a nice black Fedora. I found some 20 year-old Gauloise Caporal white cigarettes when we moved house last year that really looked the part in a soft blue case. We also had a crystal decanter, glass, and the airgun we used on the last shoot. All of these went onto a nice period desk from another room in the old manor house.
Category Archives: How Its made
Someone once said something like “Cinematographers kick photographers’ asses, all day long”. I can’t remember who this was, and the Intarweb doesn’t seem to know either. However, even though these are two different art forms, I do find that things some photographers seem to think of as new and exciting developments , are not news to DP’s and movie lighting directors who’ve been creating mood and drama with light for decades.
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.
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…