Saturday, September 05, 2009

And Now for Something...

...completely different.

Shot some promo pics for a band this past Thursday night. The band calls themselves Tshizabi.

Tshizabi's leader, Matt, is a friend. Matt, who sometimes works as a production assistant on some of the sets I'm on, had asked me if I'd shoot some pics for him and his mates. They needed some new band photos as they've recently added a new member.

"No problem," I said. (I'm a nice guy that way.)

So, Thursday evening, I headed out for beautiful, downtown Hollywood.

Thursday was hot. Stupid hot. And it didn't cool down much in the evening. They said California's "Station Fire," still raging in the nearby foothills and mountains, was creating its own weather. That weather, created by the fires or not, was freakin' hot!

Tshizabi rehearses in an apartment building, not too far off the Hollywood Strip, where the (former) apartments have been converted into rehearsal rooms and other spaces for an eclectic mix of artists. There are a number of bands who practice there, as well as other artists and performers of all kinds working, practicing, and rehearsing in the building.

The band rehearses in a small space down in the building's subterranean garage. I parked my SUV in the garage and we decided the garage, itself, was an okay place to shoot. I was hoping the band might have a few hot groupies hanging out with them but that wasn't the case. It was just them... and me for the photo shoot.

One would think the garage, being subterranean and all, would mean it was cooler down there-- cooler, temperature wise, that is. But oh no! Instead, it was even hotter and way more humid. It was like a freakin' sauna in that place! I wasn't thrilled about that. I'm a cool-weather kinda guy. But, oh well! Wha'd'ya gonna do? Hot or not I had a job to do--freebie or paid gig, makes no difference--and I was gonna do it, hopefully, well.

Matt and his band-mates helped me unload my gear. Although I brought along my Tronix ExplorerXT so I could power my lights without access to A/C, it turned out A/C was available nearby so I didn't have to go the portable power route. I love being able to toss my ExplorerXT into the truck just in case I need power where it isn't available.

The band guys said they were looking for pics that were a little odd-looking, dark, and maybe even a bit creepy. Okay. I can do slightly creepy. And I can do odd and dark. (Although the parking garage's white ceiling created a bit more reflected ambient than I wanted.)

I decided to draw on just about every Hollywood horror movie ever made and place my key light low, on the floor in fact. I modified it with a medium soft box. This alone would yield a bit of creepiness.

Being predominantly a glam and tease shooter, my first instinct was to set some edge-lighting behind the band. But using two back-lights proved difficult in terms of controlling the spill and increasing the reflected ambient. I decided, instead, to just go with one, bare-bulb, back-light to provide some highlights and separation from the BG. I set the strobe so it was hidden behind a concrete pillar. I also used some black-foil to create a snoot and control the bulb's spill and keep its output narrow.

To add to the oddness of the pics, I shot most of them while lying on the garage's filthy, dirty, concrete floor, angling up, using a wide angle lens--a Canon 17-40 f/4 L--shooting much of it from this position while orienting my camera with pronounced Dutch Angles.

Hey! Ya want odd and creepy? I'll give ya odd and creepy.

In all, I was there about 4 hours. It was fun. Had some problems with my Pocket Wizards but, after a fair amount of troubleshooting, it seemed to be a faulty (brand spanking new) 1/4" cable running from the receiver to my Buff/Zeus power pack. I still think there was some weird frequency interference intermittently going on in that parking garage.

It's always sometimes fun shooting stuff that's not what you most often shoot... even if it means no hot chicks around.

Pic at the top is my friend, Matt. Usually those strands of hair on his forehead are spiked up into devil's horns. But it was so hot and humid down in that garage that Matt's trademark horns were drooping: Flaccid horns must be embarrassing for hard-core rockers sporting satanic hair-horns!

Matt captured with my Canon 5D w/70-200 f/4 L, ISO 100, f/8 at 125. Haven't had a chance to go through all the pics yet. Jimmy's been a busy boy! Just to prove I'm not heartless, posting an update without a pretty girl flaunting her stuff, here's a shot of super-sexy Tory Lane from a while back.


John said...

How often do you shoot so spontaneously - it sounds as if you showed up never having seen the site before, and learned about the general wishes of the band at the shoot.
Nice job - the "hair down" seems a lot more menacing and oddly evil than, in my mind, the "hair horns" (which are rather commonplace) would be.

jimmyd said...

I often shoot @ locations I've never seen b4

Anonymous said...

Hey Jimmyd, do you pose your girls or do you let them do thier thing. Oh and parking garages are fun, have one coming up. Also looking foward to your DVD.

jimmyd said...


Hey Jimmyd, do you pose your girls or do you let them do thier thing.

A bit of both. I often "place" them on the set with some very basic direction then let them do their thing for a little until i get a sense of their level of posing skill. HOw much direction I give them, and what kind of direction, depends on their experience. I should note that, regardless of their skill, there's nothing worse than "dead air" on a set when shooting so I'm usually talking with them non-stop throughout, whether that talking is mostly direction or mostly aimed at keeping the energy going and keeping a connection between them and me.