Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not a Bad Hair Day

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Once upon a time I wouldn't have thought it possible that a bloke like me would write something like this, but I can't believe it's already been a year since the Wella Trend competition.  Happily, the gang at Sliver asked me to shoot their models again, and I was more than happy to do it after learning so much on the job last year.  This time we went for some slightly more elaborate lighting setups, so I was grateful for the help of my mate Mike Thorsen, Mrs C, and young Miss C.  To protect their privacy and  my skin, the C's do not feature in any of my pictures.

Mike T Mike, Alice and model Jacs and model

Since we were shooting in Wall St Mall after hours, we couldn't really set up until just before the models were ready. Our first setup took a lot of tweaking. The plan was to key from high left with a shoot-thru umbrella, fill with an Orbis ring light flash adapter, backlight for rim, and have a flash overhead to create a spot on the floor for a kind of rock star look. Unfortunately, the walkway above was so high we couldn't get the floor spot working in the limited time we had. I also wanted to shoot long with my 70-200mm lens, so the Orbis ring light had to be off camera and out of shot to the left.

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We did a couple of pictures with this setup, but I wasn't in love with what it was doing. The dark hair tones were being lost against the black background, and the rimlight tended to either enhance scruffy flyaway hair or make blonde highlights look like reflected light rather than hair colour, so we changed to a plain wall for a backdrop.

The subject lighting was similar, umbrella'd key with the soft light from the Orbis for fill, with a little rim light and a snooted light on the white background. Keeping the key light away from the white background meant it was underexposed to a dark grey and the snoot gave me a nice soft spotlight behind the model.

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After the rear spot, I decided to change to a gobo - some material to 'go between' the flash and wall and create a more complex shadow. I was thinking maybe a crystal jug of water to refract the light, or a potted plant, but all we had on hand was some stools and mic cables. They kind of worked in a pinch, but with a little more care we could have got something better working.

Model, hair designer and VAL The Gobo revealed

Being so focused on creating the lighting meant I didn't get to build the rapport I'd have liked with our models, and I'm not 100% satisfied with the job I actually did of lighting the hair. For the close ups I should have shot with my 50mm and got that ringlight on the camera or got a gridded flash onto the unlit portion, but faffing around with that first setup made me feel the time pressure.  Next time I'll take a good look at each style beforehand and think about the lighting scheme that best suits it. But I'm sure Kylie, Jaqs, Clay and Alice will be pretty happy with what we got here. As usual, I learned a lot and made another step forward.

Feather lashes

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