Rifqi's photo

My photographic journey

What happens when you let your wife cut your hair? Your hair gets shorter. But what if you’re in the kitchen, with knifes readily available for grabbing? Then things get scary.

I didn’t think it would happen this soon but when the time came to have my hair cut I got the inspiration for the second installment of my new (hopefully) ongoing series of more humorous shots. You can see the result to the left here and I’m actually quite happy with it. Not only did the light work out but the base for the editing that I created last time also did what it was supposed to and with a few minor tweaks I think I managed to bring out the look I was after. The only thing I don’t really like is the background, which, quite frankly, is rather bad. The reason we did the shoot in the kitchen was that I had initially planned to have some of my hair cut first before taking the shots, and I didn’t want hair all over the living room (which is already messy because a certain someone likes to spread all her toys evenly over that area). In hindsight, seeing how I didn’t cut any hair until after the actual photo shoot, I could have set things up in the living room and gotten a cleaner background. As it turned out, this location caused more problems than simply not looking very nice, but more on that in a minute.

Kitchen barber shopLet’s discuss the photos, the reason we’re here. Obviously you can see that I’m using my new wide angle lens and I have to say that I love the perspective it gives me for these kind of shots, it just suits the style I’m after perfectly. It’s not as exaggerated as an ultra wide (10-12 mm) but it’s just the right amount to give the image a lot more depth than you would with a more conventional focal length. It gives the whole scene more of a pop and seems to come at the viewer in a very direct way. So yeah, loving the new lens.

Next up is the light. Again I’m using a LP160 in umbrella just behind and above the camera for fill light. That way I can control the shadows and decide how much detail I want in them. Without the fill I could make this into a couple of floating heads in darkness if I wanted to – which could be cool but not what I had in mind. In this situation I actually set up the fill first but doing it the other way around and bringing in the fill last should work equally well, perhaps even better. Next we bring in the lights that will define the scene, two gridded YN560s, one from camera left and one right. The one from the left has a tighter grid for a slightly harder, spookier look on the maniac lovely woman with the knife. The light from the right also has 1/4 cto gel to warm it a bit and further separate the different elements. For the final touch we have a LP160 in softbox from camera right, above and behind the subjects. This light also has some ctb gel, again to give that extra bit of added dimension and dynamic to the scene. Perhaps I could have dialed this light up a bit to make it more pronounced but I still think it works pretty well.

Here’s an extra treat for you; I actually remembered to take a setup shot for once. I know, pretty amazing, right? Btw, how do you like my tripod?

As you can see there isn’t all that much space to set things up; we have one flash lying on top of the microwave, one on the kitchen counter and one on a light stand that’s actually in the scene, or at least one leg of it. So here we come to my biggest problem with this shoot, the location. Not only was the space a bit cramped but that window at the back gave me some very annoying reflections. I’ve never used photoshop but I’m sure that someone proficient at it could easily eliminate the reflections and make it look good. However, I was limited to lightroom and it’s not really meant for that kind of editing. I did my best and got rid of most of the reflections but as is evident if you look at the larger versions of the photos, it’s a rather poor job I’ve done. I also cloned out the leg of the light stand that was still in the frame after some cropping. That worked better but I forgot to remove the shadow. There’s certainly a lot to think about with this post processing business. Perhaps it’s time to learn photoshop for the more advanced editing needs that might arise.

Kitchen barber shopAll said and done, I’m still happy with these shots and I think that my editing (poor though it may be) managed to convey the mood I was after. A special mention has to be made for my lovely wife who, after all, plays the main part in this little madness. She did more than I expected with her character, perhaps there’s an actress hidden inside her.

So what’s everyone’s take on this new style that I’m exploring? Is it exciting or merely meh? This is the second attempt and personally I can see a lot of potential. I think the light and editing works well together but of course there’s always room for improvement. One thing that I definitely think I should put more of an effort into is the set and location. These are meant as highly stylized set pieces and as such the set is obviously almost as important as the rest in order for the images to succeed as a whole. Often the problem with that is time, there just isn’t enough of it. However, if I want to take this to the next level I have to solve that problem as well. I think fewer and more high quality photos are definitely better than a lot of mediocre ones.

Join Rifqi’s photo on google+ to take part in more in depth discussion. I’ll be adding this reminder at the end of posts for a while to promote the new google+ experiment a bit.


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4 Responses to “Kitchen barber shop”

  1. [Gm]

    As always, excellent job :-)… I personally would think to underexpose the ambient a little bit to get the ‘horror’ mood and more separation from the environment… but it all depends on your personal view, I think.

    I would think it’s better if you get model(s) for your coming shots, Rifqi… not that I don’t like to see your face or anything hehehe… I just think it’s going to be better for you, too. For example, it would be easier for you to change angle if you actually hold the camera (not on tripod)… then you might find another interesting composition.

    All in all, great job. :-)… I wish I have your dedication in making photos :D…

    • Rifqi

      What’s this you’re saying? I shouldn’t use my own handsome face? :p I agree though, it would be really great if I could actually stand behind the camera instead, I hear that’s where the photographer should be. The problem with that is where I should find those models, definitely something I need to look into. Having models that won’t get bored after a couple of shots would also help if I want to try different light ratios, angles etc. Glad you like it though, I have several other concepts for this style that I hope I can shoot eventually…you might see my face again though :p

      • [Gm]

        I would suggest that, instead of looking for a ‘dedicated’ model, it’s better to find a fellow aspiring photographer in your area (who is interested in portrait). You can kill two birds with one flash by doing that: a willing and not-easily-bored model and a partner for photography discussion.

      • Rifqi

        Hmm, that’s actually not a half bad idea :p A photographer should be decidedly easier to find than a model. Another thing I’ve been thinking about is to put up a notice at the local grocery store or seomthing and ask around for local organizations, bands or whatever that might want to have some pictures taken for free. Just for the practice.

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