Agency Test Shoot: Lynae and Irina (pt 2)

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I should know better than to wait so long to blog about a shoot! One vacation and several shoots later, I’m having trouble remembering all the little details. But I shall endeavor to recall what I can from this shoot (see previous post here).

So above you see the shot that I had conceived ahead of time. It’s ok I guess, but it pales in comparison to some of the other images from this shoot.

When I first scouted the location, I got excited about the creek and the non-California look it has. I immediately thought:

[click “continue reading” below for moreā€¦]

I immediately thought: “fishin’!” I even went as far as to go to a local park in Ventura the day before to find a suitable stick that would work as a homemade fishing rod. Yes I know the shoot location is a wooded area! But who knew if it would have exactly the perfect stick? So I came prepared, along with string. That about sums up my contribution to this shoot: a camera, a couple of lights, a stick and some string!

I think what bothers me about this series of images is the white sweater on Irina. In retrospect, I should have nixed it, because it seems out of place. Below you can see a set up shot and where the lights are. As you can tell I’m working off the ambient here. The lights are there but they’re not doing the heavy lifting. I switched Lynae and Irina’s positions so they could both get “in front” time, although ultimately the white sweater in the background turned out to be even more distracting. Each girl is lit separately: the girl in front gets the umbrella and a brighter key (two SB-28s in tandem on a bracket), and the girl in back is lit from the side/back with either a straight SB-28 or with a Lumiquest Softbox III attached to it.I am proud to say that I actually made sure to keep the two lights coming from the same direction, to simulate daylight through the trees. I don’t always think about such things when under the gun.

I had to use some ‘ball bungies’ to hold up some very heavy palm branches, so that they weren’t blocking the girl in the back so much. Solving that problem took most of the time in this set up.

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Then a very slight breeze knocked my umbrella into the stream! Ack!! The strobes didn’t take a dunk, but the umbrella took a big hit and crumpled pretty hard. AND got wet. It actually had rust stains on the cloth when I pulled it out a few days later, so I chucked it. I’m always losing umbrellas when my light stands fall over. So after this incident I decided I would buy greater quantities of cheaper umbrellas. Under the theory that expensive umbrellas, while perhaps more durable, are no more likely to survive a fall than the cheap ones are.

So after this scene, I was quite happy with the results of the shoot day (except for the umbrella and the stress of minor incidents). But it was now 5pm, and we were in Los Angeles. No one was looking forward to sitting in traffic. So I offered to keep shooting, and we all did. I turned around and went “whoa, check that out!” Big fallen tree over the stream, and some crazy dense foliage in the background. Cool!

I wanted the girls on the tree. It was about eight feet off the ground by the bank, nothing dangerous. But the problem was how do I light them? Sunlight was a little flat, so I ran a light up the pole as high as I could. Which just ended up being about face height (camera left). I’d killed my umbrella, and didn’t want to fly it that high anyway in case of a breeze. So I just used an SB-28 or perhaps with the Softbox III (see, I can’t remember!). Something light, that wouldn’t catch a breeze and go tumbling. As it was, I had to have Jackie the wardrobe stylist hold the lightstand anyway, as the terrain was too hilly.

I can’t say for sure if these are the best shots of the day, but they are certainly contenders. It was well worth staying another hour or so.

I’m reminded of two things:

1) What you plan doesn’t always turn out like you’d hoped, and what you don’t plan can sometimes turn out better. (But if you intentionally never plan anything, then it all turns out bad.)
2) Bruce Barlow has a pdf book called “Finely Focused”, which is a combination of large-format/view-camera primer, philosophical discussion and set of creative exercises to release your whatever-it-is that makes pictures better. One tip he suggests is “when you’re done shooting, always turn around 180 degrees.” You never know what might be right behind you, waiting to be photographed.

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