Friday, March 16, 2012
Learn to See with Tunnel Vision
Sometimes, my clients tell me exactly where they want me to shoot. Other times, they say things like, "Just pick a spot and shoot."
When I'm at a location house and I can shoot wherever I want there's a number of things I'll consider when deciding where to shoot. (For this update, I'm focusing strictly on interior areas of a location house.) My decisions, of course have more to do with backgrounds and environments than anything else. Sure, available light, i.e., daylight coming in through windows or skylights, might be part of that decision but, even then, the background/environment is the #1 factor. Plus, I'll be artificially lighting my confined shooting environment so available light generally matters even less.
When I say, "Learn to see with tunnel vision," as this update's title suggests, I'm talking about rectangular tunnels, not round tunnels or tunnels with one or more sides rounded or curved. In other words, tunnels that match the dimensional aspects of your viewfinder.
Since I mostly shoot glamour, odds are I'll be using short to medium telephoto lenses when shooting the pretty girls in front of my camera. That means my tunnels are fairly confined. Human eyes see what's in front of them with a wider panoramic view. Human eyes see similarly to a fish eye lens's field of view but without the distortion. The human eye, combining it's forward and peripheral vision, offers a wide angle perspective. A lens like, say, an 85mm prime, "sees" what's in front of it with a much narrower field of view, i.e., as if "seeing" through a much narrower tunnel.
As I roam about a location house looking for suitable places to shoot, I have to put my imaginary blinders on. I need to make myself see with a narrower field of view. If I don't do this, I might automatically discount places in the house that might be great places to shoot even though, when looking at them with my normal human vision, that is, my normal field of view, they might not seem like such good and worthwhile places to shoot.
The image of Anna, the "pretty in pink" model at the top, is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. (Click to enlarge.) It may not look like it but it's the foyer of the house I was shooting in. What looks like a wall or some sort of panel on the right and behind her is actually the front door of the house. The panel behind her in the center is a frosted and tinted glass panel next to the door. The panel behind her on the left is an interior wall which sits at a 90° angle to the glass panel and the front door.
The pink and off-white piece of furniture Anna is sitting on is a couch. I decided to keep her at one end of the couch and only reveal less than half of its length. I was shooting from the living room with a focal length in and around 75mm. There was one step going up from the living room floor -- where my ass was plopped on an apple box -- to the entrance way's floor. This helped me get a little lower without having to actually kneel, sit, or lie on the floor. I wanted a slightly low angle, especially with the model also sitting. If that step wasn't there, I would have had to get down on the floor... getting down on the floor while shooting is something I prefer to avoid, mostly because I'm a lazy ass.
So that's it. When you're looking for good places to shoot inside a house or the interiors of many structures, try to put on those imaginary blinders and make yourself see with tunnel vision. I think you'll find there's many good places to shoot in almost any location as long as you envision those places with a narrower field of view.