Saturday, 13 November 2010

Unit 212 Calendar Shoot on Location Mixing Ambient & Strobe flash lighting

The setup for this shoot was supposed to be straightforward.... but as always things never go quite to plan, but in true British fashion we soldier on and get the girl.

The original plan was for three models with seven cars (free) to be available for an outdoor location shoot. Days before the shoot I started to keep a weather check as it was torrential rain, windy and cold all of the things we don't really want on a location shoot. I telephoned the owners of the cars and they said that if it was raining they would not bring their prestige cars out as they had never seen rain... ok ... so I start thinking about 'plan B' which would no cars and just the models in location fashion shoots. I ring and email the models, only one of the models reply (the one we are paying, Emma) the night before the shoot the weather forecast say fine but cold... ok great I again ring the models, Emma is still fine, I get a reply form Charmaine to say she cannot make it as she has a paying job, fair enough... just as I was shutting down my computer I get a message from Curly Kate's Boyfriend to say that she is in hospital with kidney stones... so we're down to one model. I pick up a fold down gazebo from the mother-in-laws , and return home to sort out the kit. Following on from the practice session at the College with the location flash equipment I had booked out 4 flash units in two kits (unfortunately they were not the ones we had practiced with, so another learning curve). so what did I need for a location shoot? ....

here is my kit list :
  • one large fold down gazebo (to keep the elements off the kit and models)
  • two location flash kits, comprising of one battery pack two Bowens Gemini 500w flash, two 2 in one umbrellas, 2 stands and leads to suit.
  • a set of wireless receivers and triggers (no leads to worry about)
  • two cameras, a 5D MKII main and a 450D backup
  • a range of lenses (as per my previous blog)
  • a circular polarising filter
  • a 5 in 1 circular reflector/ diffuser kit
  • a Manfrotto  055XPRO tripod fitted with a Manfrotto  804RC2 three way head
  • props such as hats, scarves, sunglasses etc
  • 2 sets of steps, obviously to gain height for some shots
  • paper towers and wet wipes (for muddy shoes etc)
  • ground sheets and waterproof picnic blankets (to put kit on in muddy locations)
  • duct tape, clips, elastic bands, string and clamps (for emergency repairs)
  • my play book,  with shot ideas and layouts from previous shoots and a laminated ideas/ style tear sheet, list of clothing style requirements and general theme
  • a cables box (this containing all my get out of jail cables, connectors and adaptors)
  • and finally a contact list with phone numbers for the models and car suppliers along with time schedules to work around.
The day of the shoot arrives, the skies are clear and bright, but it's cold so on go my thermals and some layers and a hat. I load up the car with the equipment, making sure I have everything by checking off my tick sheet.

I arrive at the shoot location, park up and check around for Eric and his work colleague who was happy to provide his services as a male model.... I see them coming from the hotel adjacent to the location and I see Greg who is not exactly as I expected, which was younger and I suppose more athletic,  never mind he seemed a nice person as helped us unload the car and set up the equipment while we waited for the cars to turn up. We hear a low rumble of very large engine and look around to see a bright red Rolls Royce corniche coming down the road towards us, we direct the driver to our desired predetermined spot on the curved drive under the trees, as it is late in the year the sun is lower that the last time we check it out, so the trees are not providing as much shade as we had wanted  and the winter sun was producing a very high contrast situation.

I ask Eric to set up the portable lights in the general positions around the car while I go and pick up Emma, which was about 15 minutes from the location shoot. By the time we arrive back at the location Eric had the lights set up but hadn't started to use them as he was unsure of there operation. So we check out Emma clothing she had brought along with some accessories, I then sort out the lights in doing so realise that I don't have the cable to trigger two of the four lights and was too bright to use the infra red triggers.

We select a grey close fitting mini dress for Emma to start off with, The tear sheet is used to show Emma with some idea of what I am trying to achieve. While we wait for Emma to get changed I take some test shots to get the ambient and flash lighting balanced.

because I was using flash I had to work within my cameras shutter speed of 1/200 sec, so to give me some leeway a I used 1/160 sec and because I was using the 200mm telephoto lens and wanted to blur the background but still keep the vehicle in focus with a medium aperture of balance the ambient whilst still achieving the setting required I altered my ISO to 400 which is still a very good quality on my Canon 5D MKII.

Because of the high contrast between the shade and sunny areas I had to increase the key light and the front of the car to setting 5 out of 6 and the side light to 4. The second problem we had was because we were not able to use all the lights, 1 was to be used to light the model, so we had to use a circular reflector with a gold side to fill the shadow side of the models face as seen in the image above with our willing assistant Greg and his coat keeping him warn whilst preserving Emma's body heat... basically she was in my car keeping warm until required.

First thing we did was connect all the lights and position them in the rough location required

As we couldn't get the other two flash units working the old faithful fill reflector came into play. You can see how faraway I was working with my 200mm lens. 
This image below is taken with the setup as above but without the fill reflector as the model and car ar in close proximity and could share the flash light

 Here is on of Eric just using ambient light 
Again lighting was adjusted to suit the shot required 

The next two shots below were taken using the lights in a similar location to the image above, and the second flash unit creating the lens flair (a required element of this image)  In hindsight and more time I would have moved the car so that the tree in the back ground was not in view which will not result in more post production to remove it. (see finished images)

The following images are examples of my finished work, although perhaps not the final selection for my calendar 

This one will be converted back to the original colour as a black and white image will not flow, or be in context with the other colour images.

This image was taken which was similar to my research tog images, a long telephoto lens to compress the depth of field, the car in the background with the key focal point (the model) at the front on the thirds line. As I could only use 2 lights I had to fill the shadows with my circular reflector, this also brought the contrast down to an acceptable level.

I think this is my favourite image, yes some compositional rules have been broken, such as the key subject being central. But there are others which help like the leading line of the drive. the main reason that I like this image is what I feel is the dynamic tension of no being able to see the models face, this creates intrigue and interest, nice legs and body but what is her face like...? 

 This image work too because again there is modelling to her face with again no direct eye contact which creates dynamic tension.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Jim
    As we have discussed at length, these images are technically and professionally of a high standard. Creative and reflect the fact that you have studied the two areas of fashion and car photography. A little more in the way of reflective blogging comparing your photographs to research and commenting on how well you did in an evaluation.