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.
James shot the video – a first time experience for me and just like the finished shots look nothing like the ambient light that was present on the day, the finished video is somehow conjured from the hundreds of small clips James made during the shoot into a very polished and cohesive seven and half minute look at what we did in the first half of the shoot.
Also there was my assistant for the day – my friend Craig Carroll, who threw flour, directed the fog and spent all day winking at people :P. This is not a nervous disorder – Craig shot some Glass-eye footage, activating his Google glass camera with a wink of an eye. We also had Lencarta’s technical guru, and long time commercial shooter – Garry Edwards. Garry is a legend in lighting circles, and has probably forgotten more about what makes a good studio flash light and good lighting, than most of us will ever know. It was incredible having Gary there – and shooting in a lighting warehouse – I doubt even Joe McNally could have run out of lights in this place 😛 Garry produced stands, reflectors and gels to solve lighting problems and fine tune the result throughout the shoot.
Of course we also had a talented model – Keira Lavelle, who would be our flour fairy for the afternoon. We had 3 sets lined up and the first was a simple shot with Keira dancing through the set and some backlit fog ,with a nice floaty dress. A gridded beauty dish to the right lit Keira’s face and upper body; a gridded strip box on the left added edge and shadow fill and a simple reflector with grid and red gel provided some back-lighting of the fog, Keira’s hair and dress. We augmented this with a fourth light off stage left with a red gel, to back-light the rest of Keira’s dress with red light. We added some foil confetti to this shot at the end as well.
So what’s so special about Lencarta’s SuperFast series? Apart from being well built, reliable and remote controllable – all the usual things you want from a studio light, there are 2 things that make them especially suitable for shooting movement, and both stem from the way the light is delivered. These lights are built like Speedlights – ie the hot shoe lights – small flash. Instead of charging up with the amount of light you ordered up on the back panel or remote and emptying the capacitors completely when you trigger them, these lights, just like you Speedlights, are always charging, and a transistor based “tap” turns the flow of energy to the flash tube on and off, to precisely control the amount of light, and the duration. This means that we get action freezing flash durations – and I’m estimating this at about 1/3000th for this shoot on one qurter power; and no recycle time – you just shoot. This means I can shoot on continuous mode at 5fps on my D800E. This is as fast as the camera will go – and I got 5fps by engaging the 1.2x crop mode. The lights will go faster – I’ve had them flash along with an SB900 at 10fps.
I shot this from a variety of positions – 20 feet out, up to 2 feet out at 14mm. Worth noting that a big warehouse space like this is fantastic for shooting dramatic light in, especially with dance or other movement – as it’s big. You need space for the lights to back off, and for the camera to back off, and for the light to get lost in behind the model. Light drops off at a rate of 2 stops every time the distances doubles and we need 4.5 stops less light on the background than the model to make it go black. An actual black backdrop is nice but not essential for this – and there is a small black background at the back of this set, but nowhere near big enough to cover the entire frame. It’s simply a lack of light reaching the white walls that makes a black background.
Look out for part II soon !