Saturday, 18 July 2015

Day 199: 50 shades of studio lighting!

I’ve been looking forward to the latest Happy Camera Studio Lighting Workshop. Finally, I have a lovely Leica camera that can let me use the EVF and mount a Pocket Wizard trigger on my hot shoe, and my own Pocket Wizard at that. In previous workshops I have had to forgo the EVF, and resort to live view to remotely trigger the lights. Otherwise, I keep the EVF but have to have the lights just permanently turned on. Either is far from ideal. But now I have my own Wizards, a hot shoe going begging, I am ready to play!

We spent the morning looking at a few lighting scenarios, exploring the studio, reviewing all the source material of different techniques m(A) had gathered, and selecting the sort of effect(s) we were hoping to achieve. I always like the dramatic, the key features emerging from the dark shadows. I keep harking back to my favourite Louise Brooks portrait taken by Eugene Richee. I have a large reproduction hanging in my sitting room and hope one day to try my own version. I need a girl with a sharp bob and strings and strings of pearls!

We practised with a one light set up and gradually added more light to either correct a problem or achieve a certain look. It was fascinating to see effects of a diffuser, a reflector, or something heftier like a soft box. Once we’d examined a few option our selected model appeared. The popular vote went to Tash, she looked fun, versatile and had a dramatic fringe with long red hair. This time we hadn’t set a theme, just asked our model to bring a few outfits and go as wild as she liked. First of all she gave us a black pallet of a black polo neck and black trousers, with her hair all tied up in a bun.

Some of the original lighting themes weren’t finessed and I was getting too much noise. I opted for black and white to alleviate the problem. The only problem was that Tash kept putting her arms behind her back and making it appear that she had no arms at all. We added a gold crown we found in the studio, introduced at least one arm, and shot some more.

For those who got the reference, we could immediately see shades of Anatasia Grey in some of the poses!

SL had been very taken by the silver shoes Tash had packed. We asked for something "flowing" and she changed into this little dress.

Then there was some crazy stuff with gels, which BB insisted were repositioned with more precision (Vorsprung Durch Technik!) and as Tash is conveniently a dancer too, we asked her to throw us some shapes. I was thinking "Tales of the Unexpected" or maybe a Bond girl.

And then in post, I tried combining several exposures, hmmm Tash meets Medusa!

Then we through my pink McQueen scarf into the mix and encouraged Tash to try some spinning. We also tried a few jumping shots but in quite a tight studio setting, I didn’t think I captured the moment well.

Then BB suggested a little mis en scene that he’d been contemplating. He wanted a smouldering change of mood lighting, a dramatic change of outfit (or perhaps lack of…), which definitely elicited a few raised eyebrows from SL and myself. Tash, the consummate professional, donned a dark lacy body suit, the killer heels, the smoky makeup and posed for something a tad more PG astride one of the studio chairs.


Joking aside, despite it perhaps being a little too much information regarding the inner workings of BB’s brain, I loved the outcome. We opted for trying to make Tash laugh, anyone know any jokes? Certainly m(A) sneaking up behind her for a cheeky behind the scenes (BTS) shot had the photographers laughing, if nothing else!


We then brought the polystyrene walls in to add a darker edge and again, I thought the noise I was experiencing with the smaller apertures was either adding too much pink (yes, sometimes even I think there’s too much pink!) or just over exposed hotspots which was much easier to calm down in monochrome. The advantage is that is also adds to whole film noir to our model trapped in an ever decreasing space.

Somehow we persuaded Tash to change again and then seeing how we were suffering from a dirty floor in any of the full length shots, we tried to flood the scene with light to hide a multitude of sins.

This led to a final change of scene. How about if we go with the light flooding and have Tash all pale and ethereal with wild tendrils of hair? She dug out a white floaty, chiffony shirt, little lace shorts and toned done her makeup, removing the dramatic lipstick and smoky eyes. When we’d been reviewing some of the high-fashion shots earlier, we’d been talking techniques to add movement to the hair. Apparently the top tip is wafting a board just out of camera shot, that causes little puffs of air to add some hair action. JT turned out to be a very fine wafter!

Tash finally managed to change back into civvies, escape and head off for another job, and we had a little more cold fancy pizza whilst, in my case, checking out the fruits of our labours. It was a fabulous day; we crammed in masses of outfit changes, various scenarios, lighting setups…and pizza. I learnt lots and yet again, have a very Happy Camera!

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