Saturday, August 18, 2007

Spooky...not really !

I kind of invited myself at my friend's house the other day and it turned out to be a great night. I thought we were just gonna have a few drinks and maybe order some food but I was in for a surprise. Well I was right about the drinks but add some appetizers to that and for the piece de résistance, my friend Nicolas and his new found passion, the BBQ, cooked some chicken and shrimps with baked potatoes. I ate more than I could and should, as usual!

I had my camera with me in the car and thought it would be nice to take a portrait of Nicolas in the cemetery in the back of his house. So Nico, Sandra (his girlfriend and my assistant for the night) and I walked over to the cemetery as we were entertained by some quite decent fireworks from the street next to us. It was part of the city's celebration for some sort of carnival. Would I have known in advance I would have planned the shot to include the fireworks but I didn't want to push my luck too far!

I had this shot planned even though I had never been to this cemetery or any other cemetery for that matter before. Yet I had an idea in mind of him leaning against a gravestone. I wasn't expecting anything but just thought I could experiment a bit with the light.

Here is the set-up:

The process I went through to get the shot and the lighting is the following. I wanted an even background so we headed for a section where the tombstones were all alike. I shot the portrait facing backwards to the stones so we wouldn't see any names, after all, I still have a bit of respect left!

So I had my location and now I wanted the lighting to be right. I started with an SB-28 to the far left to light the stones from far away, casting a small shadow and highlighting the silhouettes of the stones. 1/250th, ISO 400 , f4,5 and fired a test shot at 1/8th power. Bang on, got lucky. From there I placed a snooted SB-28 on the grave next to Nico to give some highlights to the left of his face, played with the power a bit to get it right. Then I wanted some fill for his body so I placed an umbrella with a 580EX at very low power just in front of him. The key light in this case was a snooted 580EX aimed at Nico's face. It took a bit of fine tunning to get the power and placement right but I managed to get pretty close to what I had in mind.

I shot about 70 frames of Nicolas with Sandra assisting me with a flashlight to light Nico's face so I could achieve focus. Honestly I could have stayed there all night shooting in different places but I figured that Nico and Sandra were kind enough to feed me, assist me and model for me so I had to call it quits!

Thank you guys for lending yourselves to my twisted photo experiment and I owe you a great dinner! Oh and by the way, no shadows or ghosts showed on any of the frames... sorry!


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