Sharon Sanchez is no stranger to the ProPhotoResource community. She has been featured in several of my articles and I am always excited to work with her. This shoot, however, turned out to be one of those special shoots where everything just clicked.
We were looking to something with more of an urban flavor so this wall of graffiti was perfect. The parking lot was abandoned and chained off on a Saturday morning and we found parking right next to it on the street--a very good omen because as you know, my location shoots are not exactly minimalist in nature!
I had taken a snapshot of the wall a few days before the shoot and sent it to Sharon so she could plan the wardrobe. Her choices really matched the scene! So, we had three of the four components in place...now I had to light the shots so everything would come together.
The sun was rising high in the sky but was still behind the building casting a shadow into the parking lot. I used a Dynalite Uni-400 in an 18-inch beauty dish for the main light. I exposed for the combination of the ambient light plus strobe and let the wall behind Sharon go dark--it is supposed to be in shadow anyway. One of my assistants positioned Sharon right at the sun/shadow line while another friend helped me set the camera/lenses up. The sun now acts as a hair light and separates Sharon from the wall more. (PS--I used the same adaptor for my Bronica lenses on my Canons. This image was shot with the 250mm lens. I found it to be a little more difficult to focus/maintain focus with this beast and the compression factor might be too much for routine use. I'll have to try it again before making a final call on it.)
We changed lenses and moved closer for this image. I like the compression a lot more in this and the rest of the images. We once again used the strobe as the main light and kept the wall in shadow.
Sharon pulled up her hood and it was time to come in for some close-ups. We turned the strobe off and opted instead for the gold/silver side of a 5-in-1 reflector kit. Color was a dominant theme in this shoot but the close position of the camera cropped most it out of the frame. The reflector added just the right amount of color back in to the image.
Finally Sharon changed again and added a hat to the her wardrobe. By now we were rapidly losing the shadow edge as the sun was creeping over the building. The shadows were naturally no longer as dark so I wanted to create a more ambient light "feel" to the photos. I usually use strobes on my location shoots, but I want to keep it as natural looking as possible. Remember that you control the ambient exposure behind your model by changing the shutter speed. In this case we exposed for the light in the shade and set the strobe to its lowest power to match the ambient light and were able to maintain a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second. The strobe acted as a co-main light, adding some direction to the lighting, but the equal amount of ambient light keeps the shadows open and maintains a natural look as the wall recedes to the alley behind Sharon. Finally, the white side of the 5-on-1 reflector set bounced light from the strobe back up under her hat and added a little bit of a beauty look to the headshot below.
All in all it was a great day! Many thanks to Tony and Robert for helping us out. Oh, Robert introduced me to the Hoodman Hoodloupe and I ordered one the next day! It's a great tool for previewing your images when the sun is too bright to see your screen.
© Steve Dantzig
Added Bonus this weekend only:
You've all read Stephen Dantzig's articles and lessons revolving around intermediate and advanced photography topics. He also has an online Introduction to Digital Photography that could be a good review of the basics or the perfect entry point for your "newbie" friends and family. Stephen's class will be featured from 6/10-6/12 on the Honolulu Groupon website for more than 50% off the full price of the course. Go to www.groupon.com and type in Honolulu for the city starting on Friday June 10 to grab this deal. Hurry though because the offer ends on Sunday June 12, 2011!