Tuesday, 9 September 2008

The witching hour!

Had an interesting concept for a shot recently...a witchcraft style shoot. I'd discussed some ideas with the model in the shot above, and one thing had led to another and the idea of a witchcraft shoot came about.

There was a degree of complexity in the exposure here because of the use of candles. While your eyes adjust to them, and they seem bright enough in the typically dull environments they are used, in reality they are extremely dark. Put your camera on ISO 800, f/2.8 and you'll be lucky if you expose them correctly at a shutter speed any faster than 1/30s.

Therefore a shoot which involves combining flash and candles means a couple of things must be accounted for. Assuming you don't want ridiculously high ISO speeds, or virtually no depth of field, then you're going to have to deal with long shutter speeds. This means nothing can move during the shoot, so you need the model to stay very still for each shot, and you also need to have the camera on a tripod. It can also mean you can get a little creative by purposely having the model move though.

Secondly, given you've picked a higher ISO speed and wide aperture, your flashes aren't going to work hard at all. Where you might normally work with 1/2 power on a decent flashgun, you might easily find you're work at 1/32 power or something of that magnitude. Virtually no strain on the flashguns, so your batteries will last for ages.

A wee bit about the setup. You can see in the shot above how controlled the light is. Every source of light is carefully directed using honeycomb snoots. Only the purple gelled flash is hitting the background, while the CTO gelled flash is directed at the model, missing the background completely. The exposure for ambient is such that a little warm light from the candles can be seen on the model, but not enough to lighten the black background roll noticably.

In the last shot above, you can see the setup. The two flashes mentioned are on the left, one purple gelled, and one warm gelled, which you can see is firing at the ground on the right of the background paper. There's also a flash on the stand which is lying on its side. It wasn't used on the shot at the top of this post, but I added it in later with a warm gel to create a bit extra light on the model as if coming from the candles. There are also two circular 5-in-1 reflectors which are being used to block ambient light coming from windows, which were giving a colour cast in the images, as well as lighting the floor of the background paper.


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