Friday, October 1, 2010

UCLan International Student Graduation shoot

Last Friday I had a repeat booking from a job I undertook a few months ago. However this time I had obtained a different fabric background. The last I used was a very light gray Lastolite, this time it was a deeper Brown/Blue. I say both as depending on the light source, it seems to show either. I had used my Interfit lighting kit and balanced the light outputs via a Sekonic meter.

The last time I used a two soft box set up, one is approx. 2 and 1/2 feet across, the other is four. This time however I used a shoot through white, and the smaller soft box. I did this as the room I was using had a large amount of natural light on the one side (hence the softbox on this side) and the Umbrella on the other. A few test shots and I was ready to go... Digital really opens up the ease of Studio use. Before I would have had to rely on Modelling lights to check for shadows etc. now it's a case of shoot and see.

I was ready for the ceremony my camera choice was a Nikon D80 with the 18-135 kit lens - shooting on .NEF for maximum creative control and adjustment. Nikon SB800 flash with stofen diffuser. This gives a great natural look to the flash close up, although at times I'll take it off for distance shots, primarily as it reduces the guide number by half.

All was ready to go, but no students turned up.. well in fact very few did. So it was a case of 14 portraits rather than the planned 40. It was good for me as I got away without having to shoot the ceremony, although not so good as I'd have to reduce and adjust my bill.

Things didn't go too badly though, I had already promised staff portraits for the corporate website. Although ideally I wanted to shoot on a white background, thus giving them a greater scope for final use. Now this is where it is difficult, I had already balanced lights and metered for a different setup. It would still work for the close up shots, although I'd of rather shot with a snoot and large softbox. The results were acceptable, but not my best. I then moved onto group/department images. All in it took around four hours, from setting up the studio, taking pictures, and packing away.

I have now finished editing, I sized for prints at 8x6 inches 300 dpi (staff portraits) this ratio gives a nicer feel to the composition, also it lends to the 800 x 600 dpi web resize. The Student pictures were produced to a 9 x 6 inch, again 300 dpi for prints. I've ordered these online, and will be presented in Kenro card folders.

- What I have learned from this experience? I need to move lights about and mark places with duct tape, record exposures, so if the poses or groups change I can adjust quickly. I'm thinking the next shoot will be with shoot through umbrellas on both sides. Soft boxes for me seem to give a move directional hard light (despite name) opposed to a umbrella giving a softer look wider field. Also for me they give a big wide light, perhaps less shine will be on the subjects faces. (editing curse having to clone shine - something you have to deal without the assistance of a makeup artist)

Thankfully I have a good working rapport with my client - which for me is far more important than any equipment you can ever buy.

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