Last time I left off with a few issues still hanging out there, and some new ones that cropped up in this final shoot.
1. light fall of to the back wall
3. Posing-finding new ones that aren't repetitive
4. group tarps - aesthetics and function
5. throwing flour
We'll tackle these one by one.
1. Light fall off
I talked about this in the last two posts. The first shoot was actually the most successful with this. I just didn't have anything in the background to catch any light, so I got a nice clean, very black, background. In the second shoot, we went inside, and thus had a wall. Luckily it was dark wood and didn't catch much light. In b/w it removed the color cast form the warm wood, and wasn't noticeable when I crushed it down to black.
However, in this third shoot we had a real problem. I chose to try a different spot in the gym to put down the tarps, right in the middle. I hoped that this would utilize the inverse square law to my advantage and put the wall into black. Basically, the law states that when you double this distance, you quarter the power of light. Think of it as painting a wall. You can cover x feet with y amount of paint. When you have 4x feet of wall, you then can cover y/4 with the same amount of paint, or use y/4 amount of paint for x feet to make up for the quadrupled area. Or think of it like car head lights. The things closer to the car are brighter, right? The farther things are from a light source, the less light they receive per area. This is a measurable amount, in fact it's the basis for most equations and calculations for photography. Beside the point though. For this third shoot, I was hoping that by putting more distance between the lights and the wall, the darker the wall would be.
I was right, but not as much as I wanted to be. What I didn't take into consideration was that even though the wall was farther away than last time, it was white paint, not a dark wood. White is many, many times more reflective than dark wood colors, and to make it worse paint is more reflective than matte wood texture. So there was less light reaching the wall, but it didn't matter because the wall reflected a lot of it right back.
Once I realized it was a lost cause, we just concentrated on the other aspects of the shoot and hoped it could be fixed in post. As it turned out, I was able to really crush it down with just Lr adjustment brushes. Using the same technique I described in the last post, I darkened the background without loosing too much of the detail in the flour and particulate around Kaitlyn.
In summary, if you want a black background, either shoot outside at night, or just use a black background (duh). Lessons for the future....
Black and white was getting a little repetitive, so this time around we decided to incorporate color into the photos! Originally, we'd planned on using a ton of different colors, but ended up only using one set up for the duration of the shoot. In hind sight, we could have switched gels after finishing each pose, but maybe next time. Each gel has a different transmission rate, so we would have had to relight everything each time we switched. Not a huge deal, but since I was shooting at close to full power with lightly colored gels, I didn't want to run the risk of really screwing up lighting trying to make a heavy dense work. Sometimes getting every shot you want is just not realistic, leave something for the future. It keeps your brain constantly thinking about new ideas and things you can do, which is always something you want with photography, or just art for that matter!
The other thing I should mention about color lighting is that brightness is perceived by the color hues and saturation, and not necessarily by luminosity. A warm, saturated color may appear bright when it's really only in Zone 5 or 6, and a dark color with a ton of brightness may still appear dark even when it's illuminating more than the warm color. In this way, it's difficult to correctly expose a color photography sometimes, especially when there are no neutral colors to gauge off of. The best you can do is to go by your histogram, trying to push it all the way to the right without going over. We talked about that in the first post.
For color choice, just go crazy! Be familiar with the color wheel and how colors interact with each other. I like to contrast warm and cool colors, it gives the appearance of a key and fill light, which actually providing fairly even illumination. This gives you detail in most places, but with it feeling flat.
Be sure to take the clothing into consideration. Lighting blue clothing with red light is just going to make it a dark purple or even brown color, which is probably not what you want. Again, take a little time to get familiar with color theory, it'll help. Which clothing will take on the color of the light, as will most light colored clothing. Dark clothing will remain close to it's original color if lit with similar hues, but it will get darker if lit by contrasting colors. It's a similar effect to how color filters work with light.
There's so much to talk about color, but I'll leave you with those points. Most of all though, just experiment and go crazy! There's nothing more interesting in the random spontaneity of the human mind!
The last couple shoots have done a lot with jumping poses. And even though there's lots to do with that, it gets repetitive real quick. We started to run into that a little bit with this shoot. To change things up, we did a lot of poses from the ground. You'll see in the photographs, but staying on the ground opens up new doors for posing.
The challenge we ran into, however, was the drop cloths. I very much dislike them. Maybe it's just because I know what they are, but I'd much rather have a clean, or at least flat, black surface. The wrinkled plastic just looks messy and careless to me. Some of the ground photos are still successful, but they could be so much better with a cleaner surface!
4. Ground tarps
I already talked about the aesthetics of them. They are for function more than form, so if you're including them in the frame try to get something clean (aesthetically, not literally) to cover them.
On a different note, we used 4 tarps for this shoot, providing 800 sq/ft of tarp. Quite a lot. I arranged three of them like a stage for Kaitlyn, long edge to long edge, then used the fourth as a runway out to the camera. This allowed me to to get around the whole space and never have to leave the tarp. No flour for you, floor!
But still...bring a broom and mop because flour will find a way to get loose. It always does.
5. Throwing Flour
First off, it why flour get's off the tarp. But it's essential for the photos.
There's a lot of talk about this, but I'll mostly concentrate on where we put the flour on Kaitlyn and how I threw it.
Any limb that will be moving we tried to cover with flour. In most of her poses, Kaitlyn could start with her head down, so her shoulders, neck and arms could be covered with flour. We did a lot with flour in her hands and at the base of her neck. When she jumped, it would just go every where in a huge cloud. A cool trick we found for ones that involved her legs was to put flour behind her knee and on top of her foot. When her leg made arcs, the flour trailed behind nicely.
I also threw a lot of flour that night. Most of the jumping shots are only floured (yes, I made that a verb) with Kaitlyn, but many of the ground shots are a combination of flour on her and me throwing flour. All of the ones where she is doing some form of hand stand were floured by me from camera right, and a little from flour on Kaitlyn's legs and back. It's fairly obvious when you look at the photos where the flour comes from, so I'll leave that up to you. Experiment with different flour amounts and the force you use to throw it. Less flour and more force equals more of a cloud. Less force and more flour makes bigger particles and more of a jet stream/explosion effect.
One thing I should note, we used her body to block the lights so that one side of her got only orange light, and the other green.
Well, that's all for now. I might be experimenting more this summer, so maybe there will be future posts to be written. We will see...but for now that's all.
Here's my favorite photos from this last shoot. Enjoy. Full collection here.