What can you shoot in 5 minutes?
At a recent workshop I was being a bit mean and had a deliberately difficult setup - because let's face it, you don't learn from the easy stuff right?
Anyway, it was only difficult if you didn't stop and have a quick think. We were shooting in one corner of the studio, which meant we had four or five backdrops all within shooting distance. We had one single beauty dish - which meant that shadows could be strong if you wanted.
The purpose was to show that you can shoot lots of variety with a single light source like an off-camera Speedlight.
Students were having difficulties with four things:
1) Weren't making the most of the space
2) Were struggling getting long shots in without losing the background
3) Found the shadows behind the model were too hard
4) Couldn't think of things to shoot.
So of course they dared me to show them how.
What I've shown below is the complete set of pictures, straight out of the camera, not photoshopping.
I've inserted some commentary as we go so you can get a feel for what I was thinking, trying to do, problem I was solving etc..
First picture: 12.37pm, last picture 12:42pm. 40 pictures plus 3 mis-fires because I was shooting too quick.
First picture is a test head shot to make sure the light is correct for what I want
Then I pull back to a 105mm zoom - moving a good distance away to make sure I do not run out of background. The vibrant colours I thought would work well with a hard shadow so I embraced it. I told Harriett our model I wanted big and space filling (waving my arms around to demonstrate).
Without moving the lights I moved Harriett to the corner, this meant the shadow was falling behind her so I had a fairly even light across the face. Keeping the zoom on 105mm (always do) I zoomed in with my feet and said I wanted delicate and showed Harriett I was shooting from waist upwards.
Then skipped backwards to do some more full length posing using the corner ship as a prop for Harriett.
Next shot is taken at 12:38pm
Students where really having difficulty with the shadow on the wall being too intrusive. The solution is to move the model further away from the wall until it either softens out or goes off frame or both. Still shooting with the same single light.
The first three shots are me getting the position right. Harriett starts too close to the wall so I pull her out a bit until I get what I want.
Then we start the actual shots we were going for action stuff. My technique for these is to watch the model and shoot, rather than count the model in with a "1-2-3". That way I can adjust my click to her movement. First one was close, the rest were all on bang on time.
In these action shots I've moved a long way back (still at 105mm) and deliberately put a lot of extra background in shot. Of course it would be cropped out afterwards normally. This is because when someone is leaping around they often take up far more space than you expect - better to shoot windy and crop afterwards than lose hands or toes at the edges of the frame.
In these shots students where having problems getting enough depth of field to get the background to drift out of focus. The natural temptation is always to have a sort distance between background, subject and camera and that's the problem. Separate everything out with some distance (about 2 metres here) and it will all come good - I'm still shooting at f11, so not doing myself any favours, a smaller f-stop would help with the depth of field.
First two shows are too bright - these are my tests, to be honest the rest of the set is slightly under-exposed (I wasn't metering, just chimping off the back of the 5D). At least under-exposed I can correct in post.
If you're wondering about the facial expressions - I'm talking to Harriett all the way through, who's on the phone, what did they say, etc etc.
Again a "zoom" back with the feet. These are too windy, and really need cropping in at least from above the knee. They are still underexposed as well of course. What I was trying to demonstrate though was to get the model to echo the lines of the pose on the background screen.
Time is now 12:42
I just wanted to finish with a more considered pose. I asked Harriett to be a little more delicate and serene.
Zoomed in with the feet to just include the hands in a circular position to keep the eyes in the frame, Again shooting slightly too quickly, because actually I'm just losing the fingers at the bottom, though these would crop nicely just a little tighter in.
So four more shots to finish - one of which was a blinker.
And that's it. Five minutes, no pre-planning, just diving in and doing it, trying to think on my feet and fix things as I went quickly.
How did it turn out? Well, the under-exposure seems a problem at first glance, but they would come up fine in post. I've probably got a "usable" shot out of each sequence. Not great shots, but usable.
Anyway I promised the attendees that I would post the results straight out of the camera and here they are.
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