Wednesday, December 06, 2006

There's Compromises and There's Compromises

I was on a set all day yesterday. In fact, I'll be back there again today. I wasn't scheduled to work but, apparently, there was some problem with another shooter and I got called in as a replacement.

The location was in down-town Los Angeles. That's almost an hour's drive from where I live. Plus, I had to put my gear together in a hurry as the production was getting behind schedule by the minute till I arrived. It was a video production and those video guys don't like to get held up by the still photography guys.

I arrived and schlepped my gear into the old, dilapidated building that would serve as the production location. They were already backed-up a couple of girls--for the stills--and wanted me to get set up in a hurry. The production manager took me to a room with lots of windows where they wanted me to shoot the first set.

"There's plenty of light in here. You don't need to set up your lights. We need to make up some time," he said.

I protested immediately. I explained that, while it was true there was plenty of available light for exposure, the images would be flat, lack punch, and would be difficult to shoot since the back-light coming through the windows would be so much brighter than the ambient light illuinating the model. If I simply were to use the ambient daylight coming into the room and had someone to hold reflectors it could work. But there wasn't anyone they could spare to hold them for me. I also mentioned that, sometime later on when others, e.g., a graphic designer tasked with making the DVD's packaging artwork, were looking at the images, they wouldn't be aware of the behind-schedule problems and I'd be held accountable (in their minds) for lesser-quality work.

"Okay," the PM said, "But please try to hurry."

I quickly set up two lights: A big Ocotodome for the mainlight and a strip box off to the side. Balancing the exposure between the mid-day daylight outside the windows and the light striking the model wasn't made easier by the fact that she was wearing white. I didn't want blow out all the details in her white outfit yet I needed to work quickly and get through the set in about twenty minutes or so.

In the end it worked out okay. The honchos on the set all seemed pleased with the images. But I know they would have been much less pleased if I had completely compromised and simply shot snapshots with the unmodified available light.

The almost 6' tall model was Selena. MUA was Lilian. Canon 5D w/85mm f/1.8 prime. ISO 100, f/6.3 @ 125th.


Anonymous said...

So how did you meter the light so that her skin was properly lit while maintaining detail in her white dress? I have had problems managing that, especially with darker skinned models.

Kevin H. Stecyk said...

Jimmy, in your post you mention that Selena is six feet tall. Does height, either tall or short, present any unique challenges to a glamour photographer?

geowulf said...

You are really selling me on the f1.8 85mm prime. ;-)