Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Belly Dancers part 2


Settings: Ambient is 4 stops below neutral grey. One flash into 110cm umbrella, 2 stops above neutral grey, on the right, and one flash into 61cm umbrella, at 1 stops above neutral grey, on the left. Both flashes were set to maximum height of about 2 meters, and angled at 45 degrees to the group.

These are from the same shoot as the last post. This dance group needed promotional shots for an upcoming show and asked me to help. Luckily they had a black seamless paper roll set into their ceiling, which made for a nice backdrop. Despite the sun streaming through the blinds, by using 1/250 and ISO 100, I was able to completely kill the ambient for some nice contrasty shadows. I asked the ladies to stand as far away from the background as possible, so that the shadows would be as unnoticeable as possible.


By putting the two lights at 45 degree angles, and at the maximum stand height, I could be sure that everyone would receive lighting, and there would not be too much shadowing to obscure details. This way I could focus on the ladies expressing themselves with the different dance poses, and not have to worry about them moving outside of the lighting area. I made sure to do the group shots first. It was the main reason for the shoot, so I wanted to make sure I had it in the bag, before people's energy wore off, or possible equipment failure.


Next I wanted to shoot individual portraits against the black seamless. The seamless was at a 45 degree angle to the camera and the subject. This ensured it went to full black, since less light was received by it. I also had a smoke machine outside frame left, which I turned on briefly before each shot, in order to add some interest to the floor level, rather than leave it plain.


Settings: Ambient is 4 stops below neutral grey. One flash into 61cm umbrella at 2 stops above neutral grey, to the left and at maximum stand height, facing down. Second flash is through gridspot, at 3 stops above neutral grey, to the right, aimed at just the head and shoulders.

This time, with only one subject, I had more freedom with lighting. I placed the 61cm umbrella to the left, aiming down. This would ensure the face and upper body was fully lit, but the lighting would fade out toward the floor, creating a natural focal point. I put my gridspot on the 2nd flash, and put it behind the subject, and to the right. I used the modeling light to ensure it was only hitting the head, and was gone by about the waist level. This gave me a bit of separation against the black background, ensuring the silhouette is clearly visible.


I wanted the dancers to look a bit regal, so I was crouched on the floor, to have a bit of an upwards facing angle. In post, I used a curves layer to make the smoke extremely punchy, and the background go extremely dark. I made a quick mask to keep it off the subject, and blurred it to fade smoothly. I used an inverted version of this mask, to warm the subject slightly. This color contrast also gives it a bit of pop between subject and background.

The shoot was quick and fun, and the girls had a great attitude about it. The fact there was no one there but myself, one other photographer who assisted me, helped keep them at ease, which enabled great posing and expressions. Too many extras might have introduced some self consciousness and stiffness. I was glad I did a bit of pre-visualization before heading out, as I was able to work much faster after getting there and setting up.

1 comment:

  1. Like the ones with the smoke, which reminds me that I must try and use my smoke machine again...