Today is a big day; Rifqi’s photo is celebrating its 100th post, hurrah. I expect you all to become very impressed and somewhat nostalgic as we reminisce together…or we could just look at my latest photo shoot.
This is by far my logistically most difficult photo shoot to date – though admittedly that isn’t really saying much. As you can see to the left, we decided to start a circus in the forest, starring the one and only Alyzza, who also happens to be the only act, attraction or reason to visit the circus at all. Here she can be seen hard at work, gathering a crowd while holding a clementine…wait, what? Don’t question it, the girl wants a clementine, she gets a clementine. Enough banter, let us move behind the scenes and see how this was done (you
won’t will be impressed).
Step one: drag wife, baby, camera bag (got a new one, will post about it in the near future), tent, light stands and nick-knacks out and set things up. We’re not really in a proper forest, just a small collection of trees and other organic things close to our apartment – it’s the same place where I was shooting bugs during summer. I’m sure we got some funny looks from the locals out walking their dogs and whatnot, I guess that’s just something you have to learn to live with if you want to do more interesting photo shoots. While the little one busied herself with collecting pine cones, I set things up; two light stands and one gorillapod inside the tent. I don’t have a setup shot (surprise) so I’ll just explain things for you.
First thing first, I knew I wanted to shoot this with incandescent white balance (or if you prefer to call it tungsten), the reason being that I wanted things to go a bit blue to better give a feeling of night time. It wasn’t anywhere near as dark as it appears in the pictures but under exposing until I got the sky the way I wanted it was easy enough. So, the overall scene has a cool look but we want the light inside the tent to be warm. I put both CTO and yellow gel on the YN560 in there and fired it into the back of the tent. Next up was the key light for our little subject and that’s a LP160 with small softbox, boomed above by my lovely VAL. I wanted this light to have a neutral look so I put enough CTO on it to neutralize the effect of the white balance. Finally we have the third light, a bare LP160 high up at the back of the frame and to camera left, zoomed in as tight as possible. Since it’s bare, the light looks blue. I was thinking along the line of a beam of moon light and it adds a lot to the ambient feel while also providing a bit of rim light for the subject. Perhaps I should have played around with the ratio of this light but, as you can probably guess, I have excuses.
As usual my model was anything but cooperative. I hade to coax her, bribe her and trick her into standing at the right spot. The problem here was also that my wife was busy acting as a boom (well, she was the stand and the stand was the boom, would have been awkward the other way around) so I had to run back and forth to put the model in place and then just pray she would still be there when I got back to my spot. Things got even more complicated since I was using my manual focus Samyang 14mm lens. I put a mark on the ground where I stood, so that I would have the same distance ever time, and then prefocused where I hoped my subject would be. Let’s just say that it isn’t easy to get consistent results under those conditions. That’s where most of the effort went and as time went by we all started to get cold, especially the fingers, so we wrapped things up pretty quickly.
Now, what could have made these shots better? Time and a more cooperative subject, obviously. That would have allowed me to fine tune the light a bit more, especially the ratios and the placement of the main light (I got quite a lot of shots with a completely dark face). I could also have considered adding another flash in the background somewhere, either bare or perhaps with some red gel to really make things dramatic, just splash it a bit on those trees. However, there’s one thing that I know would have taken these shots to another level of awesomeness: a smoke machine. Seriously, can you imagine how cool this would look with some smoke for the light, especially the “moon light”, to play in? Ok, actually there are two things I would have liked to add: a smoke machine and an elephant…awesome. The former is attainable, the latter…perhaps not so much…but boy would it be awesome.
Sorry about that, I’m back from dream land now. So, 100 posts, to be honest I didn’t think I would keep it up this well when I first started the blog. However, for reasons unknown, some of you actually keep coming back here to read more and that’s a great motivation. It’s almost exactly three months left to Rifqi’s photo’s one year birthday, will you stay with me until then?
Now, where to find an elephant…