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 🙂
I’ve had my Lightblaster for a while now and used it on several occasions to project a background, a screened image, directly onto the model, or on to fog. It works – but the one big problem is the insane amount of light it eats. This shot on the left for example I needed to shoot at ISO400 and f/6.3 to get enough light out of the 600 Watt-second flash at full power. At those settings, the fill light (an identical light with a 30x120cm strip box and a grid) was on minimum power.
I bought the studio adapter for it that allows me to mount the Lightblaster onto a standard 7” reflector in an attempt to get more light, but wasn’t convinced this was better. I decided to do some tests.
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….
A couple of weeks ago, we all set off to Orlando, Florida – to “do the parks”. It’s a festival of queuing: queue-fest 2016. Queue technology is in full swing with “fast passes” and apps with queue times that will optimise your queuing. The queuing is punctuated with 2 minutes of being thrown about or on a tour of some animated display. It’s not my thing – but we were there for the kids – and they had a whale of a time – which is all that matters.
On Sunday though we drove out to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Centre. When we flew into Orlando over the east coast of Florida you could clearly see the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) on the flat landscape below. Not surprising as it’s the biggest single storey building in the world. This is where they assembled the Saturn V rockets for the Apollo programme and prepped space-shuttles for launch. We took the tour out to the Saturn V centre (and more on that later) and our driver, Steve just happens to mention that there’s a launch on the following Thursday probably around 8:37am, and we might all like to come back for that.