Thursday, 28 August 2008

Summer's day shoot, on a dull late evening

OK, take a look at the shot above. Deconstruct the light. How do you think it was shot? What lighting was involved? What was the ambient light like?

If I said it was dark, miserable and cloudy with no sunlight, about 9pm at night, would you be surprised?

We'd been looking to do a shoot on a nice sunny evening, with a casual style in a wheat field. There were a few problems, not least there were virtually no sunny evenings going (all rain or dull) and by the time we got the shoot arranged, the farmers had all just done their harvesting!

Suffice to say, we ended up in a field just off the side of an industrial estate, in very low grey-blue light, having to invent a little summer.

What you will have figured out by now is that there were two light sources. One from camera right lighting the model's face, and one from camera left, over his shoulder. The one from camera right looks like flash, and you probably even guessed that it was a bare flash from the catchlight. You'd be correct. The other source of light hopefully passed as sunlight without much of a thought, if I did my job well enough. Again it's a bare flash.

The trick to this was a couple of CTB filters which cool the light output from the flash. On the flash to camera right I used a full CTB filter, and on the flash to camera left, I used a half CTB filter. When I shot the images, this gave a horribly blue tone to the model, which probably un-nerved him just a touch as I showed him the back of the camera.

The secret is that you're making the daylight balanced flashes cool so that they put out a colder light than the already blue-ish ambient light. When you process the raw file out the camera, you then warm the image right up to about 14,000K, and a slight tint change if necessary. The ambient goes a warm summery glow, your half CTB filter looks slightly warmer like sunshine, and your full CTB looks just enough cooler to look like normal daylight flash used at sunset.

There really is no excuse for blaming the weather for a lack of good shots!

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Bit of a first for me you want a what kind of shoot? Gothic style? So that's, um, like black clothes and lots of makeup?

With that level of knowledge about the subject matter, you can't really go wrong!

Sometimes it's fun to push yourself out a bit further from the shore and do something you haven't done before.

Most important thing after the model for this type of shoot is a good make up artist. Without a makeup artist, the gothic style shoot ain't gonna be gothic! We were very lucky to get a really great makeup artist for the shoot. You know you've got the right makeup artist for a shoot like that when she pulls a pair of handcuffs out her jeans...not something I see everyday I have to confess!

So anyway, down to the shots...

I picked out ones for the blog here, not because they were the best pics from the shoot, but because the lighting was worthy of comment.

For a part of the shoot, the building we were in was very neglected, cold and damp. I wanted to really give the images this feel. A CTB filter is commonly used to give a cold blue look to images, but I wanted a really chilled damp look, so in addition to a 1/2 CTB, I added a 1/4 plusgreen to give a really potent chill.

For this first image, I had an umbrellabox high to camera left with the bottom just level with the model's eyes. I had a second flash on camera right behind the model and a fair distance back. I used a honeycomb snoot to direct the light in a line up the steps, giving good separation for the model, as well as maintaining the brightest area towards her face. There was a tiny touch of ambient fill, but only enough to barely bring some areas out of the darkness.

I saw this graffiti which said ACID and was quite drawn to it. Especially with the model's real acidic look going on. I think she was getting a little too much into character!

For this shot, I used the same umbrellabox, but this time low and to camera right, side lighting the model, but being forward from the model, giving enough light on her face. This time, we were close to a light grey cement wall on the left, so we got some nice fill reflected on to her face. In the background, I used the same honeycomb snooted flash to light the ACID graffiti.

The last image was a bit of fun really. I fancied the idea of the model being chased by a mysterious figure. You don't get much more mysterious than a makeup artist, especially in creepy silhouetted form!

Very similar setup for this shot. An umbrellabox to camera right, lower than the model, but turned away from her so that in effect she was lit by something approaching a strip box. Also prevented spill going back and lighting our mysterious makeup artist. For the background, I removed the honeycomb snoot and just fired the flash with the 1/2 CTB and 1/4 plusgreen filters, aiming it at the wall just behind our mysterious figure. I put it round the corner a touch, to block as much of the light as possible from hitting our silhouetted figure. A wee touch of light spill was dealt with after with a burn brush in PS, as well as some burning in of the left edge to balance the image better. I'm a fan of lighting over PS, but sometimes PS can have its uses!

Was a fun shoot, and we got quite a few other nice images, although the lighting on those wasn't as interesting - to you guys at least!

Thursday, 14 August 2008

20,000+ views

Been a bit over a year since I started this blog, and uploaded my first video to youtube. Been quite an amazing year, and had some great comments and chats with people I've contacted because of it.

So, I just wanted to thank everyone who's taken my youtube view counter over 20,000 just yesterday, and just shy of 5,000 views of my images on flickr. Totally amazing!

I hope I can continue to provide some interesting content (both video and blog) over the following year, and perhaps even gain some more readers, viewers and good friends with a shared interest in photography and lighting!