Friday, March 06, 2009

Major Test

first of all - this is my "style" which is important for this topic

[INTRO] this is a spontaneous "paper" that i just sat down to write based on a very profound and epic lighting test i just did in the interest of switching my style from digital to film and needing to know what the eff im doing in my film camera. I want to see what my style would look like on film so i have thrown all of my assets into my film efforts...


OK so my mojokiss style is a shot exposed for sky and then filled in with a soft strobe for key light all taken place usually just before or after sunset. If before, i may shoot with the sun at a 45 degree off view, or after with the sunset in full view.

So I've been in a huge transition i actually sold my digital and have been getting into film in away that i am learning to use strobes, and a sekonic light meter. This has been a costly and sometimes ridiculous adventure. I have not had many good shots come out - while shooting film and/or being "on the road". I've acquired and lost costly gear, and have shot some half as stuff i wasn't proud of, and left a lot of friends and models disapointed, at their expense, i am learning new things.

I have/had lost nearly every cruicial piece of gear i need lately to shoot, so i have not really been shooting except experimentally with unorthodox very non-mojo methods. This is worth something, but not very exciting for my supporters and fans. So I went to home depot and low's nearly ever day last week building solutions to replace hear i had lost. Tonight I tested out that gear but only with my light meter and i have some interesting "numbers" to share in th form of my camera and my technique that i feel strongly will prevail - and the problems i have run into on the way.


about 10 minutes AFTER sunset - no clouds

reflect metered the sky at 45 degrees from the western horizon

at iso 100 and f2 i got about 1/80 or so

so to achieve f2 i set my strobe at lowest power with a decent sized reflector umbrella tested at 3 feet from the back of my strobe

note - test ambient first with desired fstop and then set your strobe as desired to suit. adjust settings as needed achieve a functional shutter speed

so that was my goal there - to shoot at f2 - so that is why i have gathered these numbers on the scale of f2


Now - what if i didnt wanna shoot at 10 minutes after sunset? I would have to up my shutter speed first as high as it would sync and then follow that with my fstop upwards of 5.6 or so - and then my light would follow that by powering it up to perhaps full power because its a weak light. So this gave me the notion of dong my deeper depth of field or "mojo shots" just before sunset because they would be more suited to a tighter fstop such as f5.6-f8 and then I could change my lens and put on my 50mm f2 lens for the later shots, but still operate handheld at about 1/60th and shoot more shallow dof stuff but still have perfect ballance of exposed sky and proper key light


the main problem with this style is whatever is not directly struck by sunlight or strobe comes out almost black. In negative pro film, this isnt as huge of an issue as it is with slide film or the average affordable digital camera, because of lattitude issues. A multi thousand dollar camera will give detail to these dark areas that you can pull out in the post production. So one solution for me is to get as much sky as possible in my images and as little landscape as possible (because after sunset it doesn't get any direct light except for what is reflected from the atmosphere and it usually isnt enough for most cameras) So this is why the use of small features near the model works so well, as they can be illuminated by the strobe and give support to the model and shape to the composition and can be controlled by the artificial light. The sky can be controlled as well, so all elements can be controlled in this way. This is why beach shots work out so well - because the water reflects the sky and appears to be illuminated but you are really only looking at the sky in this way. The sand can become very dark if you are too far from the water because you can only see the sand at times, when illuminated by flash this late in the day.


I love when the sun is in the hair and on the edges of the body of the model blended thoughtfully with the soft key light of the strobe. Usualy this back light comes out looking about perfectly exposed if the ambient light and shutter are exposed for the blue in the sky to be middle grey or so. This is hard to do before sunset because the sky has such a high dynamic range its impossible to capture. So before sunset you have to "look away" from the sun without getting the model to turn her head into it. So i have to turn the camera 45 degrees off - OR put the sun directly behind the models head and shoulders to replace the overly dynamic parts of the sunlit sky with her perfectly lit body. Either way, i always light to put the lights at polar opposites of each other producing the softest shadows between the sun and strobe on the models face and body. (just look at headhunters work)


Since I am shooting film, all this has to be metered and its a crazy dynamic environment where when one light or setting changes, they all change. So I am going to set up two scenarios as landmarks and failsafes for me to stick with and deviate from as needed.

all are iso100 and 35mm film plane with subject 3 feet from back of light pointed into a reflector umbrella:

Before Sunset:

28mm prime f8 1/125 adjust strobe to highest power and shoot as early before actual sunset as my light power will allow. shoot till 5 min after sun sets. the sky will get darker in the images - let it, or adjust shutter speed to around 1/60 for some shots before changing lenses and strobe power

After Sunset:

50mm prime Nikkor f2 and lower strobe power about half with a shutter of 1/125 down to 1/15 as desired finally ending with strobe powered all the way down for the final shots and perhaps use a tripod for the last 4-8 shots or so if using 36 exposures.

notes on long shutter speeds:

(to avoid bad shutter drag and blur when unwated)
hand held - 1/60 and above
tripod with model 1/15 and above

I wanted to share this to see what conversation, support and opinions it might spark.

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