Monday, August 24, 2009

Boot to the head!

Master: Ed Gooberman, you fail to grasp Tae-Kwon Leep. Approach me so that you may see.

Ed: Alright, finally some action.

Master: Observe closely class. Boot to the Head [boom].

Ed: Ow, you booted me in the head!

Master: You are lucky Ed Gooberman. Few novices experiece so much of Tae-Kwon Leep so soon.

Lois (Board)Headshots. No, no, I'm not going to perform the moves of Tae-Kwon-Leep on you. Humorous as it may be, that's not the subject of today's post. Today we're talking about photographic headshots. Or rather, as close to them as I've gotten in the last month. Maybe a bit of background is in order.

I'm a member of a non-profit organization. August was the first month of the new term for the organization's Board of Directors. The organization is relatively new and still getting on it's feet. Slowly, but surely, it's getting there. I happened to be in the area when the meeting was occurring and offered to take photos of both the BOD and the organization's staff. Nothing fancy was needed, just something simple and presentable.

One of the things I've learned from the entire Strobist movement is that simple is good. Jesse (Board)Remember, "slow is smooth and smooth is fast." I didn't have much time to get the shoot together. All I knew walking into it was that I wanted a two light setup: a key light through a big white umbrella and a background light gelled blue to provide just swash of color. Why blue? Blue is a dominant color in the organization's marketing scheme.

I was hoping to find some textured background to give some interest to the photos, but when I arrived at the meeting place, I discovered it was in a plain-Jane office building. So, no dice. Sad photographer, no biscuit. But, the galaxy had one final hope!

A plant.

I found it tucked away in our meeting room behind a door. It was some sort of leafy bamboo-ish thing. Long thin leaves. Just enough to make a great cookie. Or cookaloris. What's a cookaloris? It's a basic light modifier used to filter light through to create a pattern against your background. Dan (Board)I'd never used one before (because it's always an after through when I'm shooting). This time, I jumped at it because I wanted something to make the background not so dull. Aside: I think the affect was great. I want to try doing more of these and make my own cookies with paper and shapes cut out of it. But, moving on.

Using a cookie is simple. Place it between your light and the background. The closer the cookie is to the light, the sharper and more defined the projected shadow is. So, with the plant acting as my cookie, all I had to do to spice up the background was to make sure my blue gel was firmly planted on the flash, zoom it in a bit and pop it for good measure. Mostly, I wanted to see if it was appearing on the blank wall correctly. It did. I was happy.

Next was getting my key light set up. I noticed recently that I tend to shoot A LOT with the key coming from the left. Unfortunately, I seem to be stuck doing this and is counter to my need to try and keep it working from both sides. David (Board)Plus, there's the whole issue of making sure I'm lighting the correct side of the model's face, but that's a wholly separate issue and post.

So, key to the left and ... needed some fill to the right. I only had one light stand and one umbrella with me and that was already in use for the key, so I couldn't use another flash (a third, which I did happen to have). What else do I spy in the room that I can press gang into use? Why, I have a useful human c-stand and a big, poster-sized white Post-It note. PROFIT! A bit of arrangement and I had my three light sources for the portraits.

And the magic of all of this? Ten minutes of setup to achieve an impromptu portrait studio suitable for photographing nine people in rapid succession.

Sorry, no setup shots for this. I'm sure you can figure it out from the lighting in the photos. If not, let me know and I can draw a picture that'll help diagram it out.

You can see the rest of the board and staff photos on my flickr stream.

The folks above are Lois, Jesse, Dan, and David. Good folks. I think Lois' portrait is my favorite from this entire setup.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I like the background! Good job Dood. I cnat wait to see what you come up with, designing your own cookies.