Horacio contacted me awhile back and we’ve been waiting for schedules to free up. He wanted to do something ‘architectural’, and suggested the local community college. I scouted the area a couple of times, which was made easier by bringing my kids to see the big cranes at the construction site on campus. Talk about multi-tasking! I focused in on the library, which had a very modern, clean look. Horacio and I decided it would be best to shoot ‘guerilla-style’, just show up on a Sunday evening and shoot, and hope for the best. But the cops showed up…
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We discussed beforehand that a suit would be an ideal wardrobe choice for the location. There is a very formal feel to the building, very modern and sleek. So the clothing should match. And of course shirts are always optional with a suit (at least around here! Not where you live? Huh. Weird.), so Horacio went for an edgy shirtless suited look.
So in a break with my normal routine, the lead shot is almost ambient lighting. It’s direct sun, of the pretty harsh late afternoon variety. I did put up an SB-28 in a Lumiquest Softbox III to add some fill though, camera right. If you know where to look, you can see the effect of the fill light. But that’s it. More and more I’m warming the models up with straight, plain ol’ sunlight. And then bringing out the magic flashing lights as the shoot progresses.
I mentioned this library had a clean look. It was however a college library. So much crud to clean up in Photoshop later! Graffiti, dirt, damage…I wanted an almost geometric feel to the architectural setting, so i really had to work to remove all the scrapes and scratched on the building. Horacio in contrast didn’t need much retouching at all.
Oh right, I was going to tell you about the cops. We’d been shooting for about 20 minutes, and I was setting up for the shot below, when I spotted a cop car rolling down the driveway. Fortunately we had our story worked out in advance. Horacio is taking a photography class at the college, and I’ve taken a couple of black and white darkroom printing classes there too. So…we’re doing this for photo class! It’s all in the story delivery. The cops seemed ok with what we were doing, and they carried on doing the protect-n-serve thing.
You were hoping they’d cuffed me and thrown me in the back of the squad car, weren’t you?
The image below is alongside the library. I looked for a spot where Horacio would be shaded by a tree, because the sun was slanting in from camera left in some places. I then set up the usual 43″ shoot-through umbrella with my Metz Mecablitz 60 as key light, camera left. I originally had a hair light going with an SB-28, but I found that it wasn’t really needed, and I could use it elsewhere. So I moved it back and lit the background. You can see a couple of pillars back, one is lit, and there’s a splash of light on the right wall as well. I needed a little separation back there so the suit wouldn’t disappear, and that’s what I got. The far background is of course sunlight whacking the wall.
This was shot with a long lens to compress the perspective and make the line of pillars and receding wall more dramatic. I had to move some palm fronds that were creeping into view though, so I used a ‘ball bungie’ to string up the palm frond out of the way. Of course I left it there…might still be there for all I know, holding the branch up. I should go back and try and retrieve it someday.
And below, we switch to a more casual look. We’re using direct sun again, with a little fill camera left so the dark side of his face doesn’t disappear completely. But I wanted to maintain the dramatic shadow on the wall, which too much fill light would have compromised. It’s the SB-28, Softbox III on the fill. I was using the main light to light a stairwell camera right, which of course you can’t see in this tighter shot.
And finally, up the stairwell we go. I had a bear of a time getting the light positioned. The light stand wouldn’t sit properly on the stairs below him (camera left), and I couldn’t get it high enough to be a flattering light for his face. Ultimately I solved the problem (actually I think Horacio solved the problem) by bending one knee to lower himself in relation to the light. I also had a fill light up the flight of stairs. But what that light was accomplishing, I don’t know. It got lost it the continual adjustments and was basically just lighting the air. Again a long lens, as I wanted that angular vibe.
And by the way, this stairway was plenty bright, just a shady outdoor alcove. But with the magic of flash photography, it turns into a foreboding, dark indoor stairwell.
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