Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Fashion show at Stella Blues Cafe

Had the chance to shoot another fashion show, this time it was the Candy Cane Lane Fashion Event at Stella Blues Cafe in Kihei. This was a benefit for Toys For Tots and featured clothing lines from Karamel Collection and Pakaloha Bikinis.  Our models for this event were Brittney Baker, Aja Marie, Tami Solomon, Julianita Nakagawa, Austin Macdowel, Tiffany Russo, Ruby Barichi, Perri Kaminoff, Kapila May, Valerie Wessel and Hayley Kaysing.

Hair was done by Colours Salon and makeup done by Ry-n Shimabuku and Julianita Nakagawa.

This is what the location looked like that evening.  Dark.  Reeeealllly dark.

The original plan was to shoot with a high iso and just utilize the lighting on the runway.  However, since this location had ZERO in the way of runway lighting, we fell back to using some Strobist techniques.

I recalled from one of the Strobist DVDs that David Hobby lit a basketball court using a couple of Nikon flashes on opposite sides of a gym, and I thought it might work in this environment.  In his example, he balanced his strobes with the ambient light of the gym.  In our particular situation at this location, there was no ambient light to work with, so we used a combination of a higher iso and 3 flashes to light everything - a Canon 580EXII and 2 Nikon SB26s.

Found two light fixtures on opposite sides of the room where we could mount a flash facing the runway.  Two Nikon SB26s were mounted onto Manfrotto Justin Clamps and a Pocket Wizard Plus II Tranceiver was added to each rig.

These Justin clamps are really handy tools to have in your kit bag.  With them, you can stick a flash pretty much anywhere you can think of.

Both flashes were set to 1/8th  power and zoomed out to full wide.  These were then clamped onto the light fixtures on both sides of the room and aimed at the runway.

Right side of the room:

Left side of the room:

This gave us some nice cross lighting to work with which would help bring out the details in the clothing on the models.

To test it out, I walked alongside the runway and checked to make sure that at every spot on the length of the runway that I could still see the face of the two strobes.  This would insure that no matter where the model was on the runway, the light from the two SB26s would fall on them. Also, since the distance from the two side flashes to the models remained relatively constant, the exposures would be roughly the same no matter where on the runway the model went.

The main light was a Canon 580 EXII with a Gary Fong Lightsphere (1/2 cloud, no dome) pointed up mounted on a 5D mkII with a 24-105mm f4L IS lens.

A Pocket Wizard Flex TT1 mounted on the camera's hotshoe triggered the two remote Nikon flashes.  The 580EXII was mounted on the hotshoe of the TT1.

Shot everything in Manual mode, iso 800 1/60@ f4.  Main flash (the 580 EXII) was dialed down about 1 stop to fill in the shadows from the front.

The 580 EX II was set to ETTL mode, so that as the models got closer to the camera, the flash would adjust according to the distance.

During the show there were times when I fired too many shots at one time and the 580 EX II wasn't able to recycle fast enough.  Since the two Nikons SB26s were only set to 1/8th power, they fired pretty much every time so that there was still enough light to pull out a decent image later on in Lightroom.

Some samples from the show:

Aja Marie

Tami Solomon

Julianita Nakagawa

Austin MacDowel

Tiffany Russo

Ruby Barichi

Perri Kaminoff

Kapila May

Valerie Wessel

Hayley Kaysing

Another one of the challenges that came up during testing before the show was that the Canon 5D mk II had trouble focusing in the low lighting conditions.  To help alleviate this, an LED video light on a light stand was set up next to the camera position at the end of the runway. The camera's autofocus was set to AI Servo mode so that it would track the models as they walked toward the camera.  It ended up working about 90% of the time.  The few times that it didn't was when the camera got confused and tried to focus on the LED light of the video cameraman in the background (you can see him in some of the shots).

This shot of Brittney below is one of my favorites from the show.  It was one of the few times where everything clicked - the lighting, the pose, and the flow of the dress.

Thinking maybe the next time I shoot a fashion show, I'll try using the Canon 7D which has a better autofocus system.