Tutorial: Kirsty At Middle Head Fort – Part 1… The Capture

16 05 2010

It’s been a while since I posted a tutorial, so I thought I’d do a tutorial on this image that I made last night.  This article will be in two parts;

  • Part 1 will talk about how I made the capture
  • Part 2 will take you through the post processing of the image.

So last night I was running a workshop for Northside Creative Camera Club on Light Painting.  I decided to ramp it up a bit and include some off-camera flash techniques as well.   We invited a lovely model called Kirsty to come and model for us.  Here’s how we did this shot.

Set up an SB900 flash unit in a soft box just out of frame on camera left.  The flash was close to Kirsty which meant the light levels dropped off quickly in the scene and allowed us to control the lighting on the bunker separately.  I was using Nikon’s CLS to control the flash power.  Camera was set on ISO200, f5.6, 30sec exposure.

As we triggered the shutter the strobe fired, and then we started light painting the bunker from camera right, and then from camera left using my olive oil can with a fluoro in it.  We also went behind the bunker and popped a second flash with a pink gel on it into the bunker about 5 times to create the pink glow.

The stars were captured separately from a high ISO shot (iso 1600, f5.6, 30sec) and then blended in using a contrast mask.

Thats pretty much it.  Even though it was a long exposure, Kirsty was sitting in darkness, so the flash pop gave her sharpness.

My next post will show the post processing step-by-step.

I hope you like it.  I am using a more stylised processing approach for these portrait sessions because I feel they lend themselves more to it rather than straight landscapes.

More later

Brent





Light Painting Article in Better Photography

29 12 2009

I just picked up a copy of the latest edition of Better Photography.  Peter Eastway has written up a nice article about a shoot I took him on a few months back to show him the ins and outs of light painting.

It’s funny what editors omit from their articles… he ommited to mention that he went on a seascape shoot with two Phase One backs in his backpack wearing thongs.  Now the trip out to the headland wasn’t too bad, but it was an incoming tide, and I think Peter got a tad nervous when we had a few dashes across the rocks in between waves.  Watching somebody dash across the rocks in thongs with about $80K worth of camera gear on their back was certainly one of the moments I won’t forget in a hurry.

🙂

BP





The Making Of Nightmare (part 1 of 2)

21 11 2009

It’s been a while since I have posted a video, so I thought I would give you a double-header.  This is the first of two videos that show how I made an image called Nightmare.  This video is part 1 which takes you behind the scenes when we did the shoot.  It was a lot of fun, there was a group of about 8 of us and I think everyone really enjoyed the location and the shoot.  When you are shooting with a good group it really makes photography fun.  We were also lucky enough to have a gorgeous and talented model (thank you Mandy) who modeled for us.

This shot is something different for me in a few different ways.

  1. It combines off-camera flash with light painting.  I don’t normally do much off-camera flash, but I’m keen to start doing more after Oat and Nelson’s wonderful off-camera flash workshop.
  2. It is a shot of a person… I normally have a bit of a mantra of not shooting anything that talks or shits.  Hence the fascination with seascapes, landscapes and urban shots.  In this case I do feature the beautiful Mandy.
  3. This shot was totally pre-visualised for about 3 months, and I have set out to create it.  I planned everything about the shot from the pools of light to the type of clothes that Mandy had on.  I wanted to see if I had the technique to accurately re-create my vision…. and I have to say I was very happy with the results.

What is this shot about?

Nightmare is about a chick who has been out for a wild night of partying finding herself in the wee hours of the morning in one god-awful freaky place.  Her clothes are in disarray, her makup is smudged over face and I wanted to create a response in the viewer of “what the hell happened to her…. what is she doing in this freaky place”?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the video…. I will try to post part II tomorrow which will show the post processing including some pretty cool techniques.

This video was produced in High Definition, so I’m not going to embed it inline with the blog but send you over to Vimeo where you can enjoy it in all it’s HD splendor.

Brent





Sculpture By The Sea…By Night

9 11 2009

Well this is the second year that I have stayed away from Sculpture By the Sea during pre-dawn or daylight hours…. It’s like Pitt Street for Photographers… has been for a few years now.

But at night…  all the people go except for the occasional couple that stroll by with torches.  You have plenty of space and time to just experiment and play.

Here’s a couple of shots from this years exhibition.

Blue Face at night

This was probably my favorite shot from the two nights that I went out shooting.  Funnily enough it was the last shot of the night.  I’d seen this face when I was browsing through some of the other photos of the exhibition, and while none of the other images of the sculpture grabbed me, the face itself did.  I figured it would have possibilities before I even saw it, so it was on my “must shoot” list for the night.  It really helps to do your research, otherwise I could have easily missed it.  As it was I had to ask the security guards where to find this sculpture.

OK, a bit of info on how I made this shot.  The first thing is that I am previsualising my light paintings much better these days.  When I looked at the sculpture here’s what I was thinking….

  • Cool face…  I could some cool things with highlights and shadows on the face
  • Love the horizon and water in the background
  • The bushes create a nice transition against the sea… want to emphasize them
  • The stars and the clouds are very cool… I want to get lots of stars and no star trails and try to get some of the little puffs of clouds to blur in the sky.
  • I liked the way the sculpture cut above the horizon and kind of made a nice transition between the land and the heavens… I wanted to emphasise this as well.
  • As I was looking at this I thought it would look cool if the face was kind of emerging out of a blue-light fog.

So that was what was going on in my head… so here’s how I set about executing it.

Screen shot 2009-11-09 at 10.11.35 PM

(You might want to click on the image above to see it full size)

I started off with my heaven shot… my background.  Set my camera to ISO3200 and shot 30sec @ f5.6  This gives me heaps of bright stars due to the high ISO and no star trails due to the 30sec exposure (lucky I’m shooting with a Nikon)… Canon would probably give me a shit-load of noise…. OK… couldn’t resist that jibe… seriously though, the D700 is awesome at this high an ISO.

Then I started my first white light run on the face with the fluoro light.  Aftger that I saw clouds coming over, so I redid my heaven shot.  The the next two images were more light painting on the face from different angles.  Once I felt I had the face captured from the right angles, I light painted the bushes in the background.  I then did two frames of the face in blue light (using cold cathodes).  This was to give me some blue light on the face from the blue fog.  I then thought that perhaps I might light up the face red to see what it looked like in contrasting colours emerging from the blue fog…. however when I previewed it in Photoshop I didn’t really like it, so I didn’t use the red images.

The final image is of the blue “fog” that I created with Electro-luminesent wire.  This stuff is wicked.  It creates cool water/fog effects.

Then I just started working the blending in Photoshop. The trickiest part was making an accurate mask around the sculpture that was sticking up in the sky.  I used a contrast mask for that (see my cool shit tutorial series for video on how to do that).

Here’s a couple of my other shots from Sculpture By the Sea.

horse sculpture

I loved the look of this horse from the moment I saw it.  It had “light painting” written all over it.  I loved the way it overlooked the water.  I used contrasting colours to really try to highlight the insides of the horse.

This last shot was from my first night’s shoot.  I just wanted to do something a bit abstract and different with it, so I threw the sky into almost total blackness and focused on abstracting the sculpture and the surroundings.

Sculpture by sea 1

For those that want to learn this type of photography see my Light Painting Workshop Page.  Still a few spots left for the Nov 09 workshop.

Brent