Friday, May 13, 2011

Alyssa and Alana - Old bridge shoot

Kahulani, Ronald and I met up with models Alyssa and Alana for another shoot, this time in the late afternoon at the old train bridge in Wailuku.

Since we had three photographers this time, we planned to do two different lighting setups in separate areas so that we could all be shooting at the same time. Due to time constraints and the high winds we experienced that day, we ended up doing just one lighting setup and rotating the photographers and models through that.

While we were setting up our lighting at the location, Alyssa was already coming up with ideas I never even thought of doing at this location. Since our lighting was setup in the other arch from where she started doing these poses, we ended up shooting this with just natural light.  The sun had just gone below the mountains behind our location, but there was still enough light from the sky coming down so give her a soft rim light.  Shot it with the 85mm for a shallow DOF to pull the attention to Alyssa and also to blur out the fencing way in the background.

 Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso400 1/640@f2.0

It was really windy at this location in the early evening and it stirred up a lot of dust.  It seemed to calm down a bit when we first got there so I thought "maaaaaaybe I could get away with putting up the Octodome if I braced the edge of it against one of the walls".

Big Mistake.

As soon as I set it up, the wind picked up again and started whipping the Octodome around in every direction EXCEPT the one we wanted.

So then I tried switching to a medium softbox.  Of course the wind just laughed at me and said "Dude, don't even THINK about it".

Soooo we finally went to the beauty dish which seemed to hold up pretty well.

Yeah I know, I know. I shoulda just started with the darn dish in the first place.
I'm dense like that sometimes.

So here is the lighting setup.  If you look at the photo at the very beginning of this post, you'll see that each wall has two archways. About the third wall in, one of the openings is sealed up. We set up in this archway, with the sealed wall behind as a backdrop.

Our main light was an Alien Bee 800 and beauty dish setup in front of the archways off to the right about 45 degrees. Behind the archway wall are 4 more lights - another AB800 and 3 Nikon SB26s. One of the SB26 flashes was used to light the back wall and the rest of the lights were setup to rim light the models and also to light the ground behind them.

This is the view from behind showing one of the rim lights- the AB800. If you look past the wall off to the left, you can see about where we placed the main beauty dish light.

Here Ronald is setting up one of the SB26 flashes on a lightstand as a rim light.  There is one more SB26 on the ground that has a CTO gel on it to add some warmth light to the ground behind the models.

Another angle (shot from the archway where the models were standing) showing the AB800 rim light and also the third SB26 which is aimed at the wall. This third SB26 was gelled to add color to the background.

All these lights were mostly triggered with Pocket Wizards.  The SB26 on the ground didn't have one attached (ran out of Pocket Wizards) so it was set to trigger optically instead. 

It was starting to get dark by this time, so we had to hurry. For the first look, we used a dark blue gel to light the wall behind the arch. If you look closely at the background light, you'll see a diagonal shaft of light below the blue - that was a happy accident - because the blue gel didn't quite cover the flash head completely.
 Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

I'd be lying if I said we meant to do that.  Sometimes things happen and it's best to just roll with it.  Especially when you're rushing to get the shots done before the wind covers your models in dirt.

Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

For the second look, we swapped out the blue gel with a red gel for the background.  This time we were able to fully cover the flash head with the red gel for a more solid background color.

 Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

 Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

Canon 5D mkII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160@f7.1

 Had some more ideas I wanted to try out at this location, but will have to save them for another time.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Creating night with 2 hotshoe flashes

For our last shot of Alana, we went out into the atrium of the building where the studio was located.  This was middle of the afternoon, and a lot of natural light was coming in and bouncing around the white walls. 

Thought it would be interesting to attempt a night scene here using just hotshoe flashes.

First thing I did was set the camera's white balance to tungsten and did some test shots playing around with the exposure settings until I got the scene to a nice deep blue color:

First test shot with auto white balance:

 Switched camera white balance to "Tungsten" changes the overall color to blue:

 Increased shutter speed to darken the ambient light:

For the main light I used a Canon 550EX flash with an external battery pack, triggered with a Pocket Wizard, firing through a small softbox.  This flash was gelled with a full CTO and also a 1/4 CTO gel. The gels lit the model so that her skin and clothes would render normal on camera while everything else remained blue.

The back light was a Nikon SB-26 flash gelled with a full CTO and a 1/4 CTO gel, also triggered with a Pocket Wizard.  I added a ProKit reflector to help prevent this flash from flaring into the camera.

Didn't feel like going back to the studio to grab another lightstand, so I just used whatever was nearby to elevate this flash. Pretty ghetto, I know.

While doing test shots I kept getting reflections of the flash off of the metal columns,

 so I experimented with different positions of the main light until I settled on putting it right up next to the front column just out of the frame and skimming the light across the model's front. This had the side effect of helping to bring out the detail of Alana's red dress.

Canon 5D mkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS iso 100 1/160@f5.6

The final image came out pretty close to what I had intended.  Think it would have been nice to have a couple of zombies standing outside the glass walls behind her, but unfortunately we couldn't find any zombies that day. ;-)
Canon 5D mkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS iso 100 1/160@f5.6