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.
Category Archives: Model Shoots
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.
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…
You could try trawling eBay for old Canon lenses, but here’s the thing: Canon changed their lens mount in the 1980’s to get AF working properly way before Nikon, and well anybody tbh – that’s why every sports shooter on the planet still shoots Canon today, but the consequence is that there are no old Canon EOS lenses (ie old enough to be bought at junk prices).
Plus, you really need a wide aperture lens to use with the Lightblaster – or you’ll just lose most of the light.
These Yongnuo 50mm f/1.8 lenses are £35 – or around $50. and they have AF! I have no idea what the image quality is like, and I never will as I don’t own any EOS bodies, but for £35 I’m happy for it to hang off the Lightblaster, and it weighs nothing.
In the USA: http://www.light-blaster.com/
In the EU at Frank Doorhof’s shop: http://www.frankdoorhof.com/store/images/lightblaster-2.html
..and in the UK at Inspired PhotoGear http://inspiredphotog.com/light-blaster/
Emilia Gaza contacted me recently to ask if I’d be interested in shooting some dance/burlesque with her. Her portfolio notes over on PurplePort are filled with such enthusiasm and passion for dance and to create images of it I immediately said yes! Continue reading »
It’s been a while since I did any classic beauty style shots in he studio, and I’ve learnt a lot since the last one. Mainly I’ve been influenced by Joel Grimes in recent months for this sort of look – joelgrimes.com Go check out Joel’s work – he’s been working as a photographer for over 25 years and has honed his craft to a fine level of detail, and that’s what his style is all about – the lighting, shooting distances and angles are very finely tuned. That doesn’t mean he gets a tape measure out, in fact one of the hallmarks of Joel’s approach to his work is that nothing matters except the result – he’s not interested in meter readings, modelling lights, histograms, ratios or any of that stuff – if it looks good on the back of the camera – it’s right. Having studied his work both via his website, YouTube, and a couple of his videos on KelbyOne – http://kelbyone.com/members/joelgrimes/ I booked into my friend John Gannon’s studio http://www.studio-de-lumiere.co.uk/ with model Jessica-Jane Taylor and Make-Up and Hair stylist Emily Rose Connor to put what I had learned to use 🙂
This was the second of 3 shots we did with the Lencarta SuperFast lights. This sort of shot is something you only get so many goes at: you run out of flour, coloured powder, and of course, eventually, the model is so covered in flour it changes the look of the images. Shooting continuously on high speed (well as fast as my D800E will go anyway – the lights will go faster) makes it all the more likely to get a usable frame from these sets.
This was the first time I’d attempted this shot, and while we got a few reasonable images – it’s not quite achieved the drama I want. I think I know why and I’ll come back to that at the end of this blog.
As I had so much flour left over, another shoot with it was, well inevitable. However, before inevitability could strike, James Wall, marketing director of Lencarta lighting wrote to me and asked if I’d be interested in doing it again at their studio in Bradford, to promote the SuperFast lights I had been using for the last few shoots. Well – I’d be doing this sort of thing anyway, so this was not a hard decision, and wouldn’t need to sell anything – these lights are genuinely fantastic.
Now – there’s a joke in here somewhere about the model being self-raising, but to be honest, It’s too late in the day to be crafting that, so just make up your own and insert it here…
How much do you need? I had no idea. I’d seen a few flour (or “dust”) shots around on flickr, and Pinterest and this seemed like an ideal job for my new high-speed IGBT Lencarta studio lights – movement, flour backlit, hair flying etc. Well, I bought 4 bags of Sainsbury’s most basic plain flour. I now have 3 and a half bags of plain flour – which, as it turns out is not much use for baking anything…..
The venue of the flour experiment would be Millwood Photography in Stalybridge. I highly recommend Millwood studio – Paul not only agreed to let me throw flour about in his studio, helped out on the shoot. And the brave volunteer to be covered in flour? Lizzie Bayliss. I’ve shot with Lizzie before and she is one of the best models around.
I keep coming back to this dance theme. There are a number of reasons. Dancers, especially classically trained dancers hold themselves with a certain grace and poise. (well “duh” I hear the rest of the world say, but well, yes it is obvious, however it is a reason why I’m attracted to dancers as subjects). Next is the movement element – showing movement in a still photograph, whether it be a dancer frozen in mid-leap –where it’s obvious they are moving as they had to be to get up there, to showing multiple positions or a constant motion blur in the image to show the path they have taken. I had shot with Gabby before, to produce a multiple flash image showing her path from stage right to stage left. This time I wanted to explore motion freezing, and getting some blur on.
Gabrielle Dams, my subject for this shoot is only 18 years of age, and yet she dances, she sings and teaches a dance class of12-13 year old girls – who all adore her. She’s very hard-working and always turns in a great performance.