Studio photography on the move…

29 06 2010

My core business is studio photography, be it capturing images of glamorous celebrities or toilet rolls for commercial use, and one tends to get into a comfort zone with your available equipment and studio facilities..

Recently however I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a lot of location work which involved traveling unencumbered and making do with available light in a lot of instances.

Let me paint a picture: in 2 weeks I traveled to over 40 shoot locations, some of these in the air, some on sea, some at high speed, some picturesque, all required a lot of traveling and the destinations were spread across the extent of our beautiful country.

Lugging around my D3 and a decent selection of lenses was difficult enough at times – try swinging through the Tsitsikamma forest or hanging onto a Jet-boat traveling at 120km per hr in choppy waters, all with one hand and trying to take shots at the same time! It’s all a lot of fun but imagine attempting to factor lighting into the equation as well!

Well unfortunately that’s exactly what I was being paid to do. The job didn’t allow for an assistant or runner so we were forced to cope alone (I say ‘we’ because fellow photographers Chanti, Mark and Sherissa were sent off in different directions on similar assignments for the same client).

In a studio type environment I have the luxury of adjusting my lighting and using specific modifiers to create the result I want from the shots, and often you get an effect that works and you tend to replicate.. This trip forced me to make do with what was available, shooting alongside a film crew and with a schedule from hell didn’t help as our set-up time was non-existent – fortunately I had professional models to work with which helped plenty and was able to direct them as required to ensure the light (whether sun, reflection or artificial) was as flattering/interesting as possible.

With the unavoidable extremes from midday sunlight to candle-lit dinners, equipment played a major role. While fill-flash was occasionally acceptable in midday sun to balance the shadows  it would have destroyed the ambiance of drinks beside a log fire for instance. Having the full-frame sensor with high ISO tolerance and good dynamic range meant that I was able to capture images that ordinarily would have had excessive areas of under/over exposure without having to compensate overly with additional lighting, reflectors or scrims.

At times I would have loved to have my Ranger battery pack with me but the shoot simply didn’t allow for that, nor was a CLS (Creative Lighting System) setup possible due to available space, hands and time. I thus found myself using lighting angles and alternative light sources to create ‘studio-like’ effects while retaining a natural authenticity I might not have achieved with a full lighting rig.

I think the point I’m trying to make is that we often take our surroundings for granted and pull out our available lighting equipment prematurely when sometimes we could achieve a better result by simply looking at the environment a little differently.

I know that I’m going to be trying to reproduce some of the natural lighting effects I discovered on this trip using my studio lights in future too.




2 responses

16 11 2010
3 07 2010

I agree, sometimes it’s good to get into positions that require you to think differently.

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