Case Study 5 | Athlete Portraits | Transcription

I want to talk to these scenes because these were some of the more complex scenes and setups that we’ve done, and we didn’t spend too much time as far as the thought and approach that went into shooting these shots. When I arrived at the gym, and by the way again, these trainers most of the shoots that we’ve done here, these are all our clients, guys. If we can’t use these techniques on actual shoots, I wouldn’t be teaching them to you. When the techniques are going to be a little bit more difficult or impractical, I’ve been trying to be as honest as possible in telling you that this is really more of a Lighting 201 thing, but if you’re in a pinch, you can do this type of technique.

That’s not what we have here. This is a technique that’s very reasonable to do, if I do have off camera light setups, then of course, use them. If I’m shooting it professionally then of course do it. My client does know here that we are filming and we’re filming for educational purposes so we’re going to use on camera flash and reflectors and so forth. They were cool with that. I would not show up to a professional shoot with just my on camera flash and a couple of reflectors without them knowing. They’re going to feel like, “Where’s all the gear? Where’s all the professional stuff?” It’s just not a good idea.

Be sure that they’re aware of what you’re going to be working with and stuff, otherwise they might be a little bit surprised. What is the thoughts and approach? We got to this gym, and I work out at this gym quite a bit. I know the gym layout, and one of the thoughts I had was, it has this garage door, the back of the garage door. I actually loved using the back of garage doors to get shots because you can do a lot of unique things with the lines on them, with lighting them a certain way. You can light them in a way that it really doesn’t look like a garage door.

It will look like a fantastic pattern or leading lines or so forth. I though, “You know what I’d like to do is, use this garage door, and maybe use it as my back light in the shot.” When I got there the door was closed, so I just asked, ” Is it okay if we open the door a little bit?” What I do, I placed an assistant just right in front of where I would have basically these guys standing. Just an assistant to stand there as a subject and a place holder in my frame.

I have someone open the garage door just while I look at basically the, rim light that the garage door is allowing to come in. The garage door is basically creating a rim on the side, but really more a back light. It’s coming strait from the back, and it’s giving him a nice little edge. You can see it around Levi as well. We get this nice little edge. Right when I have it about right, it’s like maybe a foot a foot and a half off the ground, I say,” That’s great. Leave it right there, just a nice little kiss of light and it’s perfect.”

The next thing I go is I love for that light to be able to come in and have a little bit of ambiance to it. I want that light to come in and have a motion and feel. I think, “Okay, let’s use the fog machine.” We have the Rosco Mini-V. It’s a fairly inexpensive fog machine guys. It’s only 450 bucks and it adds so much production value to images, like this one. It’s a fantastic effect to have. One you can have these more smokey effects, but when you let the fog dissipate, you get this beautiful ambient and environmental haze that looks beautiful and fills up spaces, and prevents the scene from being so contrasty and so black and so forth.

I have popped that and filled the background a little bit with some fog. We are shooting at different moments with fog. Dispersed versus not dispersed. When it’s not dispersed it looks like smoke, and when it’s dispersed it looks more like an ambient effect. If you guys don’t want to buy a fog machine because maybe you don’t shoot enough with it, that’s fine. Go out and rent one. You can rent a fog machine guys for like 20 bucks, 30 bucks. The fog fluid, you can buy a bottle of it for 20 bucks and I’m still on the same bottle of fluid and I’ve used it for, I don’t know, 30 or 40 shoots. It lasts forever.

That’s how we’re getting that look in the background. Now that I’ve got that, I go,” Okay, let me figure out my exposure for this background.” I got my fog in there a little bit so I can see what that looks like. I got my subject standing there. I just want to see a little bit of this lines in the background. I want to see some of that light coming through. We expose. We’re on 24-70, it’s this 24-70 Canon Mark II, F2.8 lens. We’re shooting at 1/50th of a second at F2.8 ISO 400.

One thing to note is my shutter speed is getting fairly slow. With the shutter speed that slow, I probably want to make sure that I turn on what on the flash? RCS, right? Rear curtain sync. You need to have your rear curtain sync on, because our flash is going slower and I want to make sure that if there is any motion, the flash is coming at the end of the frame to freeze everything. I’m not trying to get motion in these shots. I’m just lowering the shutter speed because I don’t want to raise my ISO up anymore. I want to be able to get some of that ambient effect. That ambient light in the background. I’m lowering the shutter speed just keeping it still using rear curtain sync just in case.

I’ve got that background exposure, now what have we done here? We’ve created essentially, we have now a background light, we have a light that’s now on the background. We have a back light coming in, we have a background light right behind him over this background area. That’s 2 lights. That back light is also acting to give him a little lighting right there. We have this 2 light setup and all we’ve done is just modified the existing location lighting a little bit. I’ve also turned off the existing lights in the gym because they’re these kind of fluorescent lights. They don’t really look that great. Now we set up our lighting. For the subject, I use the V flat. We use the wide V flat, why? Because I want the light on this side to go from head to toe, which means that I want that V flat to be standing head to toe, and then I also want the light coming off the V flat to be a little bit less intense. That way when I use a silver on the other side to kick. The silver is closer in the intensity as the white.

Remember if I use a silver as the first bounce and a white as the second, the whites going to be much much less intense as a fill than the silver is. If I flip it around and make the white the first bounce then silver is going to be closer in strength because silver picks up more light, the white is going to leave a little bit of light, it’s going to lower the intensity just a little bit. We use the wide V flat.

When I’m firing against that V flat, the V flat is strait up and down. There’s not really a way to tip a V flat without using stands or without having your assistant hold it. To get the light to come top down, I’m flashing up a little bit. I’m flashing a little bit up and into the top of the V flat. That way when the light comes back, it’s kind of, more of the light is coming from above than bellow. If you are getting some of that spill, throw the grid on. The grid is going to control it from spilling into the background and coming back. It’s going to control from spilling on your subjects. Either way you want to make sure that all your light is getting into the V flat and not going anywhere else.

That silver is placed on the other side, what we’re bouncing at? We’re right around one quarter to one 8th power, and we get these shots. It’s essentially split lighting. That V flat is heavily directional. Is right off to his right side, to his right side. I’m simply controlling whether we’re getting Rembrandt lighting by the face position. We have him looking down to the right, we get a little bit of Rembrandt. We have him look strait in the camera we have a split.

Either way this lighting is fantastic because it’s very directional and it comes across the body. You can see what it does to his veins, his vascularity. It really drops a lot of shadows around the veins which brings out his muscle definition. Brings out muscle definition across the body and because we’re firing top to the high point of the V flat, the light’s also coming down and it’s creating a little bit of shadow also underneath the abs.

The one change that I’d like to make is, I would love to get the V flat up, just a little bit higher and maybe angle it a little bit more, but that require stands and something else involved. We just didn’t have that on set. I didn’t want an assistant to hold the entire time because if you’re bouncing you’re going to get very inconsistent results if it’s not on a stand. You can see we have great definition. There’s one thing that I want to point out here. If you look closely at this image with Levy, you’ll notice a little tiny black edge around his body over here. What do you think that black edge is from? I keep doing this little children’s pause thing. What do you think that’s from? Let me ask you a question, as if you guys can answer for me. Joe’s like … I don’t know what that is, he’s just nodding, “Do whatever you want Pye, it’s totally okay.”

That black edge is coming from basically the shutter speed. I’m getting a tiny bit of motion either from the camera or from him. A little bit of motion and movement, maybe he’s breathing, maybe he’s doing something. The flash is freezing him, but there’s a tiny bit of motion there, and that’s the black edge that we see. We’re basically, we’re cutting off light from the background with his figure, and so we get a little bit of black edge around. You can just pop off a few shots, if you’re slowing down the shutter speed, pop off a few shots so you make sure they’re completely still. You can also medicate that by putting the camera onto a tripod and then taking still, you need to take a few shots and tell him to hold his breath or exhale and let all the breath come out and then take the shots. That way there’s no movement in him either.

That due your shutter speed drag. We’re starting to see a little bit of motion get picked up. Of course the other thing you could do in this situation is speed up the shutter speed. We didn’t have that on Jeremiah, even though these are the same settings, and I have plenty of shots with Levy without it as well. There’s just this one shot that had it and I wanted to show it to you all so you guys know exactly what that is in case you want to remove it from your images. If it happens and it’s an image that you love, not a big deal. You can always go in into Photoshop and just clone stamp the edge all around and it’s totally fine, it’ll fix it. If you can fix it in camera, you should because it’s much easier.

In total gear, what do we have? We have a grid, we used a V flat, we used a silver bounce plus the stand to hold the bounce, we have our fog machine which again is kind of an optional thing. Here we let that fog dissipate, and it ends up almost looking like a little bit of steam coming off his body which looks awesome. Here the fog is more intense and full, and it looks more like smoke. We have shots where we’ll show you also where it looks like more dissipated and just environmental. You don’t even see any steam or anything. It just looks like the environment has a little bit of grey in it. It doesn’t look like it falls in complete black, which is really nice reducing some of the contrast in scenes like this. Sometimes a scene gets too contrasty, too black and white and detailed. That fog and that haze lifts some of the shadows a little bit. It looks really nice.

That’s really it guys. You can choose as far as the gear goes which ones you prefer as far as with reflectors V-flats and all that kind of stuff. Just remember, when it comes to the shot, set it up first. Set up your background, set up everything. Look at the lights that are existing, try and manipulate that a little bit so you have more light to work with by opening up the garage just a little bit. We have back light, positioning them, then adding in your own light. Remember, start with your first primary light, your key light, and then add your fill, or whatever other light you need as necessary afterwards.

CHAPTER GETTING OVER THE FEAR, HYPE, & MYTHS

CHAPTER 2: THE BASICS OF FLASH

CHAPTER 3 UNDERSTANDING LIGHT

CHAPTER 4: ON-CAMERA FLASH GEAR BASICS

Chapter 5: DIRECT FLASH DONE RIGHT

Chapter 6: STUDIO LIGHT? JUST BOUNCE IT!

Chapter 7: MORE LIGHTS, REFINEMENT, & CREATIVITY

Chapter 8: CASE STUDIES

Chapter 9: BONUS CHAPTERS

Total Course Run Time: 8H 17M 4S