It’s been quite a while since I did an update on my daughter’s progress, so today will be a mix between that and the regular photo discussion. Sorry, but fathers are allowed to harass others with stories about their offspring.
The little earthquake is now 15 months old and still getting cuter by the day. At this rate there will be no defence against her by the time she’s two years old. Her favourite hobbies right now are climbing and computers, both of which can cause her parents to suffer from nervous ticks. In the climbing department the main achievement so far is to get up on the kitchen table by route of a kitchen chair. If no chair is in a suitable position, she’ll move it. When it comes to computers she doesn’t really know what she’s doing but she loves all the buttons and she knows that the muppets (among other things) lives in there. If she can get her hands on the wireless mouse or keyboard, she’ll give it to us, point at the screen and say ‘Ah!’, in a very demanding fashion. Or if she’s watching one of her shows and manages to kill the computer (she’s amazing at finding interesting key combinations), she’ll give us the mouse and exclaim a slightly more upset ‘Ah’.
She’s also started hugging and kissing a lot, wich is really nice. Sometimes she’ll just randomly come up to you and put her face in front of yours to give you a kiss. Random hugs are rarer but if you pretend you’re sad she’ll come over and put her little arms around your neck, and that’s the best feeling in the world.
For her 15 months picture, my wife wanted to do a nerdy, techy shot with her in front of the computer. Usually when I have an idea for a shot I spend some time mulling it over in my mind. That way it can take form properly and I can reshape the idea until I have something that I think will work. On this occasion I had to throw something together rather quickly so I may not have ended up with he most polished results possible. However, I still think I managed to come up with something that’s pretty cool. I knew I wanted the shot to be on the dark side, since nerds don’t like light (I should know), and I also wanted some funky colours.
Strangely enough the little one wasn’t as interested in the computer as she usually is, maybe she was suspicious that we actually put her in front of it instead of keeping it away from her. We’ll take a look at the process in a minute but first have a look at the setup shot below (I’m getting better at remembering those), complete with Mr. Bear, who is my regular baby stand-in.
As you can see, we have four lights and all of them are quite restricted. To start with, I wanted some colour on the background so here I used a gridded LP160 with yellow gel from camera right. It’s of course gridded to keep the light on the background and only on the background. Next was the key light on the little subject, a gridded YN560 with CTB gel, also from camera right. I’m not entirely happy with this light. It was standing directly on the floor but I would have liked it to be a bit higher to better get the main focus on the subject’s face instead of her side. By the time I realized this I was too lazy though, so I just kep it the way it was – I’ll do better next time but as you can see in the shot to the left, the model was getting a bit upset so I didn’t want to drag things out too much. Next up was a LP160 with a very tight grid from camera left, aimed at the keyboard of the laptop. I used this light to give the feeling of light coming from the screen. Why not just use actual light from the screen? Because that would require a slow shutter speed and that isn’t a good combination with this particular model, unless you’re going for ‘artistically blurry’. Actually I would have liked to simply put a flash in front of the screen and used that as the key light as well, but I didn’t trust the model to not grab it and bang it against things.
Those were the lights I had planned but something was missing. I wanted the scene to be dark but it felt a bit too dark. So I added a fourth light, a YN560 with red gel aimed at the back of the laptop. I also stuck a cardboard gobo (made from a cereal box, naturally) on the flash to keep the light from spilling on to the background. I think it adds a nice touch and helps to set the mood of the shot.
This photo shoot came out decent enough and it was nice to be able to shoot the little one without having her run off after every single shot. However, it was a bit thrown together so there’s definitely a lot of room for polish and improvement. Especially the key light could have been improved upon but it would also have been nice to experiment with the background light, maybe turn it blue instead for a different feel.
Until next time, remember to not leave your computer out in the open when there are babies around.
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