This blog article will be sort of continuation of the first one talking about doing some creative photography with Mr. Ducktail (The Demon Barber of Carnaby St, London). As promised in this second part of my blog, I will be covering all the technical details about the way I lighted the whole scene and Mr. Ducktail.
Following from my previous post, I have already associated Mr. Ducktail with the idea of “The return of Sweeney Todd” in different time period. So to connect better with the initial idea, I wanted to build the sort of dark/night overall feel. And, by the way, this is not the natural atmosphere in Mr. Ducktail barber shop. In order to achieve my goal I needed to use some creative approach to my lighting.
I was there at 10:00 am, and started setting up at around 10:30. Now, when saying setting up, I don’t mean only the equipment but also the composition, angle, him, her etc. I had the idea of what I wanted to do but, previously, I had the chance of visiting Mr. Ducktail’s shop only once and he was busy working so I didn’t have good opportunity for looking around and thinking about the setup.
Now, as professional photographers, what we normally do is examining and evaluating on location existing and natural lighting if it’s going to connect/fit with the idea/brief of the photoshoot. In my case the ambient was awful, taking me millions of miles away from my idea. On the image bellow you can see how Mr. Ducktail + me and his surrounding looked with all light from the window and some bulbs on the ceiling. Just keep in mind this is an image taken after we finished.
From this moment on I knew that I need to build the lighting from scratch for the whole interior, Mr. Ducktail and our lovely lady model. As you can imagine the whole process was going to be a bit of a hassle, because the more lighting we use the more complex is the setup, and especially in my case, this same day, my assistant couldn’t attend the photoshoot, so I needed to handle everything on my own.
The very first thing I did was to setup a Canon Speedlight outside pointed at the window. This was going to be my dark/evening street light spreading demonically within The Demon Barber shop. The Speedlight was set on full power and my camera WB set to tungsten, so the light had a very blue appearance. Ok I started already with the light setup but forgot to mention my camera settings. Because I needed to cut any ambient/natural light, I setup my shutter speed at 1/125, I also setup the camera WB to tungsten and the aperture was set to F/6.3. The choice of lens for this photo session was Canon EF 17-40mm f/4 USM. After little bit of tweaking and re positioning the Speedlight I, sort of, have it as I wanted.
Click on the images bellow for larger view:
After this I started setting up another Canon Speedlight, gelled with 1/4 cut of CTO because of my camera white balance, this strobe was dressed up with Opteka 1/8 Universal Honeycomb Grid. As you can see from the image, where she was sitting behind the desk the light was about 1-1.5 m away from her. In this particular lighting situation I needed to control my lighting very tight as not to have it spilled over different area than the object designed to illuminate, yes this was very edgy lighting setup. Now here probably I need to mention that we shouldn’t forget the inverse-square law, please visit the link and will understand why, although my Speedlight was gridded, the model is lighted almost in quarter length. By the way I forgot to mention that I placed a red gelled Canon Speedlight in the lamp behind, this is because I couldn’t get the normal light bulb intensity do to my shutter speed of 1/125.
Click on the images bellow for larger view:
Ok so far I have sorted the interior, blue, light and the light for the lady sitting behind the desk. My next task was to finally start preparing the lighting for “The Demon Barber of Carnaby St, London”. I used three Canon Speedlights to lighting him up, like a demonic Christmas tree. My main light illuminating his face was dressed with LumiQuest Softbox, which I needed to modify further, don’t forget to recap about the revers square low. Because of my wide angel lens and framing, I couldn’t use the LumiQuest Softbox as near to his face as I would like to, so what I did was to use lots of gaffer tape blocking the surface and leaving only a small square from where the light was going to beam very narrowly. This isn’t something what a professional photographer is doing but in some situation we need really to improvise and extend our hardware creativity. So now my LumiQuest Softbox was acting as another Honeycomb grid, narrowing the light just so to illuminate a portion of his face. This Speedlight is also gelled with CTO.
On his right, behind him, I set up a medium beauty dish as a rim light. The purpose of the rim light was to separate him from the dark background and also help increase the dynamic range of the image, which in its order will look glossier. I also applied magenta/purple gel on this strobe. The third Speedlight was dressed with, my last left, Opteka Honeycomb Grid 1/8. The strobe was positioned on his waste level pointing at his t-shirt logo, or in another image, at his crossed hands. I didn’t apply any gel correction on this light as I wanted to increase/lift the effect of the blue, evening, light coming from the window. Distance wise it was quite close; there wasn’t much space behind me any way.
So, shortly, this was how I setup the whole scene and lighting. You can see, from before and after, that there wasn’t any crazy and top secret post processing applied to the image. The most of the glossy high dynamic range was achieved with lighting.
Well I hope you like the images I manage to create, by the way we finished at around 15:00, and if you do please feel free to comment on my blog or spread the word.
Bellow you can find before and after image effect which shows that most of the job and visual style look was achieved on the field and not spending many hours in Photoshop.