All posts tagged lighting

  • iPad Photoshoot

    Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A restless mind… or maybe too much late night pizza has you laying awake in bed. You decide that if you can’t sleep you might as well do something productive, so you fumble in the darkness for your iPad for one more round of Angry Birds. You power up and are instantly struck blind by a beam of light so bright that it burns “slide to unlock” into your retinas. You squint, roaches scatter, wife stirs, “Damn, that’s bright.”

    Sound familiar? This happens to me too often. Eventually, it dawned on me that, given the right context, the iPad screen is actually pretty bright. I know that for a fact because I measured it with my light meter (1/60, f1.4 at ISO800 from about 1.5 feet). You know once the light meter has come out of the bag, there’s no going back. Naturally, we needed to do a photoshoot using iPads as the light source.

    Luckily, I have friends who are very generous with their time and electronics and was able to scrounge up nine iPads. I mounted them onto plywood using some cheap hardware store brackets. This gave me three lights consisting of three iPads each. The light from an iPad is quite soft and diffuse. This makes the light fall-off steep. Adding more iPads didn’t translate to more brightness, but did mean we could light a larger area. Since the ‘Pads would need to be used somewhat close to the subject to get enough exposure, a simple, portrait style shoot seemed like the best option.

    Now before the haters start commenting let me first agree with you, yes, this is totally impractical (sidenote: most of my best ideas are often also my worst ideas). Nine iPads will set you back around $4,500. That amount of money can buy you a LOT of lumens in the form of a generic monobloc. This is not intended to be an exercise in excess, but rather a self-imposed limitation to help flex the creative muscles, and to make a point.

    Think about it. One 60 watt bulb can put out more light that a truckload of iPads. And you don’t have to spend truckloads of cash to find a 60 watt. This whole making art thing is all about what you do with what you have. We just happened to have a bunch of iPads laying around so we went with that. Today’s dSLR sensors are sensitive enough that you could easily do this with some flashlights, headlights, headlamps, real lamps, or even – heaven forbid – real strobes! Now go forth and do!

    Model – Miranda Hull
    Make up – Michelle Gallagher
    Hair – Joanna Montemayor
    iPad Propagator – Josh Markle
    iPad Wranglers – Derek Sine, Corey Jindra
    Videographer – Tyler Faires
    Miracle Worker – Lyn Rosten

  • Stop Motion, Stop

    I’ve been itching to try some stop motion lately and luckily found a project that seemed suited to the technique. Here is a TVC I created for a women’s health fair event (sidenote: TVC is industry-speak for “television commercial”). The challenge was to visually show a connection between “health, fitness, and fashion.” Shooting stop motion allowed for some creative transitions that helped tie the three themes together. Notice there are no cuts in this spot.

    And now some technical details.
    We shot this on a blue paper backdrop. It was lit with a couple of kino four-banks from the front. I went with hot lights instead of strobes to eliminate any potential flickering due to variation in strobe output. Don’t get me wrong, I love AlienBees, but they are not as consistent as, say, Profoto. Plus, shooting with constant light meant I could shoot at a higher fps without waiting for strobes to recycle.

    The spot was shot on a Canon 5DMkII in stills mode (not video). I cheated the stop motion where ever I could. Cheating meant having the model move in slow motion and varying the shutter interval manually. It probably averaged somewhere around 4 fps. Other setups required the standard (and tedious) method of positioning the frame, snapping a picture…reposition…snap…repeat ad naseum. Text was done in After Effects using a combination of jitter settings in Path Text and Time Posterization.

    I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. Filmmaking is one long string of creative problem solving. A great example of this is the “toiletry mobile” constructed from a mountain bike wheel and fishing line (see picture below). This little gem allowed the toiletries to easily orbit the model’s head. Big thanks to Casey our fearless model, Anna with make up and hair, Amy the apple eater, and Lyn production manager extraordinaire. Also thanks to InHouse Marketing for all their help with production logistics.

    Toiletry MobileBTS-stopmotion-5096
  • High-Output Beauty Dish

    The CEO

    Here are a few MadMen inspired shots of my friend Jim. Though I’d never seen Jim smoke a cigar before, this is how I always picture him in my head – a bit of daring, with a dash of dashing. Jim has a long resume that is full of acronyms like CEO and MBA. I don’t know what any of those mean but I do know that Jim is a nice guy and a good friend.

    Lyn and I set up a little photoshoot last week to test out the newly arrived backdrop (ordered it here: neutral gray), and the new high-output beauty dish. The lighting setup for these shots was pretty simple: beauty dish boomed over head (with AB1600), and two speedlights in small silver umbrellas as kickers (with the exception of one shot where they didn’t fire).

    Now how about that HOBD? If, like me, you’ve been on the fence on whether or not to pick up the new High-Output Beauty Dish from Paul C. Buff, let me save you the worry. Just get it. You will not be disappointed. Now, I’d used the old dish before and liked it. But the HOBD has been completely redesigned for efficiency and I really didn’t know what to expect. The light spread on the HOBD is about 45 degrees (old model dish was 140 degrees). That’s a pretty focused light. In order to get that kind of narrow beam on the older, less efficient dish, you needed to lug along a grid modifier. Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier (and more efficient) to *diffuse* hard light than it is to *focus* soft light. So far, I’m really liking the narrow focus of this dish. I figure if I need a softer look from the HOBD, I’ll just throw the sock on it and approximate the light spread of the old dish. Boom. Done. The HOBD is made of aluminum and is very light weight compared to the older, Webber-BBQ-inspired dish. My only complaint is the way the direct-light blocker mounts. It is not connected to the dish itself but runs through a hole and into the umbrella holder of the Alien Bee. It’s a clunky, and somewhat proprietary way to mount the blocker. I have no idea if the hole on the HOBD will match up on any other monoblocs.

    Overall I’m very happy with the dish. Next project is to test its efficiency by doing some daytime shots a 580 EX mounted to the dish.