Friday, July 27, 2012

She is deciding my fate

She is deciding my fate by Bruce M Walker
She is deciding my fate, a photo by Bruce M Walker on Flickr.

This is one shot from a set of shots I did while helping my wife Louise on a documentary project she's creating about a local business called the Trap Door Boutique. The owner, Gabrielle Neveu, sells clothing and fashion "for the artistic professional" in the Junction area of Toronto's west end.

This was a guerrilla shoot. We were operating within the boutique during their open hours, working around customers who were mostly bemused by our activity. (I think some even came in because they were nosey and saw the lights.) We were in and out in two and a half hours.

I was providing lighting for Louise to do video footage of our models, Marzi and Julie, getting crazy with the clothing that Gabbi was styling for us. I was sneaking in and shooting stills as best I could. Since this was for video I couldn't use flash, so I opted for a $30 garage work-light, 2 by 250 watt tungsten halogen bulbs on a short stand, that we had bought previously to try. To make this light less harsh and have it come from above rather than casting upward shadows, I added two light stands: one with a 44" silver reflector and the other with a reflective umbrella. I then aimed the two 250 watt heads from the work-light at each of the two reflectors.

When I measured the light with my meter I discovered that 500 reflected watts doesn't actually go far. I was forced to shoot between f:2.8 and f:3.5 at 800 ISO and shutter speeds between 1/30th and 1/60th sec for the entire set. But the resulting light was unique and interesting. It was nice to work with WYSIWYG light: easy to see where shadows would fall and great for focussing.

Tricky to work with the work lights though as they threw light everywhere, so accidental direct light leaks and flare were hard to avoid. I even had trouble with flare in the viewfinder! I just accepted the harsh shadows in some cases as creative accidents. ;-)

Then there's the heat: oh my gawd. Sweat was pouring off me. I also was forced to shoot in close proximity to the light heads because we were in a very confined space between the clothing racks, changing booths and the cash desk.

But despite all the restrictions, my keeper rate was astonishingly high. Louise chose 248 out of 302 shots to graft into her doc footage. I rejected many of those as too soft for me, and narrowed my personal keepers down, but it's still a large number. The seven in this gallery are just the extra-good ones that I've retouched first.

So here's the Flickr gallery. The first seven shots are from this recent shoot (this past Wednesday), and the rest are from an art opening in the same boutique last fall.

More images to come ...

Pentax K20D, DA* 16-50/2.8 SDM, 800 ISO, f:2.8-3.5.
Lr 4.1, Ps 5.5

Model/MUA: Marzi Leszczyk
Model: Julie LoTauro
AD/Videographer/Hair stylist: Louise Peacock
Wardrobe stylist: Gabrielle Neveu
Location: Trap Door Boutique
Clothing: TBD
Lighting/Photographer/Retouch: Bruce Walker

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