Who are you:
This image was lit with three simple, manual controlled speed lights and by extolling a technique our American friends call “pop” and burn.
The whole point of the image was to make it look like theatre, so my two accent lights were covered in gels, one a CTB placed to camera left hidden buy speaker stacks. The second to camera right covered in a CTO. this was allowed to wash more liberally over the set.
I wasn’t as manic as I usually am in hiding these, after all it was supposed to look like a live stage performance so flair and spill really was the order of the day.
My “key” or main light, the light that gives the prevailing direction, shape and form to my main subject was once more a simple manual controlled speed light, shot through and modified by my 36” multi modifier.
This was angled to give me the best possible “butterfly” pattern on Danni’s face that the situation would allow. I’d got Ste, one of my assistants to remove the outer diffuser from the 36” multi modifier as this would increase the specularity and contrast in the lights quality giving me the look and feel I was after.
As a slight side bar I just want to thank all that voted for my modifiers, you’ve no idea how proud I am to have won “Best professional accessory” two years in a row at the trade awards – thanks guys and long may they serve you well.
Ok, so whats the “Pop” and burn bit??? It is as simple as dragging the shutter. In other words choosing a slow shutter speed in order to mix some of the available light into the shot, in this case some of the stage lighting I’d asked the band to turn on. As you can see mixing the flash with the ambient gives a really cool look. The other advantage is a slow shutter speed allows for fast movement to start to register as a blur.
The Image was captured on my EM-1 with the 17mm f1.8 (34mm on full frame) from a kneeling position to exaggerate the length of the model. The camera was set to an 80th at f2.8
Queen of Hearts:
My second shot was a more traditional beauty shot, with a little styling twist pulled off by Zoe my MUA and more importantly Lesley who built the props.
I lit this image with my favourite continuous lighting system Hedler HMI’s, these are beautiful, beautiful bits of kit, the fresnal’s are to die for.
This again is a simple three light set up. The “Key” was a DF25 focasable spot fitted with four way barn doors and a lay of diffusion “frost”. The beam was quite tightly focussed to concentrate the viewers eye to her majesty’s upper body and face, the “frost” just softening the light slightly. The barn doors further allowed me to control the spread of the light. What you don’t light is often far more important than what you do!
Once I had my meter reading for the “key”, which was f2.8, the thing I love about the Hedler is that the rest almost becomes purely visual. For a man that works with flash almost every day of his life this is just so liberating.
The density of the shadows and contrast inherent in the subject is controlled by my second light, a Hedler DF15. This unit was fitted with a four foot strip light. I turned the light on its side, placed it on a low stand and fitted it under the “boomed out” key to form what is know as clam shell lighting. If I’m honest I didn’t even bother to meter this light, thats the beauty of the visual que that continuous lighting gives you. Naughty I know, but a working pro needs short cuts in his day ;0)
My final light was a four foot square soft box, a slightly unusual choice but I wanted this light to pull a “double duty”.
The unit was placed to camera left, just out of shot and at about 90 degrees to the background. We also covered this light with a CTO gel, yes the do come in four foot wide sheets. This light was set to enhance the contours in our Union flag back ground supplied by Click Props, thank you Charlie, and to add an accent light on to Abby our send model from Cliche Model management. I set the “pin hole” vignette art filter built into the EM-1… job done! This image was captured on my favourite Olympus lens the 45mm f1.8 – double the focal length for the 35mm equivalent.
There’s a state of War:
On to picture number 3! Once more Zoe did a sterling job on make up and styling. I wanted a quirky, slightly macabre toy soldier.
The whole essence of this image is in the depth created by multi layered flags, so its back to portable flash to squeeze the little fellows in where there bigger studio cousins wouldn’t fit. I LOVE the freedom and creativity shooting portable lighting gives.
Keeping with the style shot so far we are back to using CTO and CTB covered strobes to act as accent lights. We used a double layer of CTO on the unit to camera right to deepen and intensify the colour. the unit was placed to spill through and across the flag creating both form and a little transparency.
The accent to camera right was covered in a CTB and was placed further forward than its partner. It accents the rifle and ads a luminosity to the union flag in the fore ground.
There are two extra accent lights in this image. White light aimed primarily at our subject. These units had the light spill controlled by adding “barn doors” from my portaflex kit, I just wanted to separate the subject from the background without adding flare to the image.
Now we light the subject herself. The “Key” in effect is two lights combined The 36” multi modifier has its front diffuser removed to increase contrast and specularity and “table topped” in essence a severe butterfly. I’m doing it for raking texture, you can see this most in the tunic. I then fitted a snooted speed light in with the dish and aimed it into the mask of the subjects face. It was important to get light under the brim of the helmet and into the subjects eyes. It may not seem obvious at first glance but it took six lights to turn this trick.
Right, we are now into the home straight…
We constructed a small set to pull this one off! Obviously we hired a really cool bike as a prop but the lie was told mainly with the help of One Vision imaging. The guys at this great pro lab printed two 8’x4’ images for us, one of the skyline and one of the wall. We then suspended them from background stands, one behind and to the side of the other to create width and more importantly depth.
The “key” light was a Damian McGillicuddy “BIG panel light” construct to camera left as well as illuminating the subject so beautifully it is also responsible for the long highlight in the “racer’s” cat suite.
I then used a CTO gelled strobe on a pole to act almost as a street light and cast warm light down on the head and shoulders of my subject, give form to the bikes tank and add a little warmth to the wall.
A speed light complete with a portaflex barn door, to control spill, was positioned toward the back of the set to camera left and aimed back to the subject to give separation, this is known as a “kicker”.
The image was completed by adding a snoot from my portaflex bag of tricks to a speed light and shot on very low power into the mask of the face to add sparkle to the eyes. I used the “dragging the shutter “ technique once more to allow the warmth of the room lights to warm through the set. The image was captured with the 45mm f1.8. The camera was set to iso 200 at 40th of a second at f2 handheld. Its the FAB five axis image stabilisation and the weight of the EM-1 that allows such things… and there you have it job done!