October 8, 2009

Who says you need the right tools?...I do!

Photo by Michael P. Young
 Creative Commons.
For the love of pete, will I ever learn?  They always say the right tools make a job go faster and easier.

In they heyday of my poorboy days, I did almost all of my automotive work myself.  And over the years I was able to assemble a meager tool kit.  For a while the toolkit grew exponentially as compared to previous years due to my working at a hardware store.  So, as you can guess, I was like a kid WORKING in a candy store.  Eee...my paychecks exponentially shrunk as the greedy little payroll trolls in the back accounting office robbed my Peter to pay their Paul as related to my store credit account!

However, there were certain jobs in working on my automobiles where I just plain had to get creative in using what tools I had to get a job done.  And somewhere in the atmosphere above that hot, gravely, black asphalt parking lot of the lowly  apartment complex to which I called home, hangs a tapestry of expletives suspended in a dark black cloud of angst that received it's first breath of life when I crushed my first knuckle on a job where I didn't have the right tool.

In my photographic career, I have often found myself, again, without the right tools to make the job "easy".  Unlike the "omg, I hope this frickin' wrench doesn't slip and sever my finger" fear of automotive repair, when faced with a photographic assignment where I don't have the right equipment (yes, still being plagued by the lack of money thing) , I can usually scrounge around and apply a little creativity to accomplish my shoot with only a bruised and sheepish ego.

And that's exactly what happened with my first low-key photo shoot.  All I had was a 42" white shoot through umbrella, and two small softboxes.  The small softboxes were too small for a full length, so they got relegated to one fill light camera left, and the other a hair light.  The shoot through umbrella would have to be my main light.  But krikey, it spilled light like a stuck pig.  To add salt to the wound, my available distance from the beautiful model to the black seemless paper was fixed and shallow (welcome to on-location, in-home photo shoots!).

So, I needed to find a way to "feather" and flag the light from the fill light and that piggy umbrella.  So I went out to the truck and got my window shades..you know...the ones that you have to fold into a circle in such a way that if you "think" while you fold the damn things, they just keep popping you in the face....but if you just wiggle and wave your hands around like a hula dancer, they just circle up real nice?  One of those did the trick to flag off the spill from the main light hitting the black seemless background.

Now, the fill light. Well, since the fill light was a softbox, I was able to "feather" the light onto the subject at an angle and direction that kept the light from spilling onto the black seemless.  Unfortunately, the fill light was too bright and I didn't have anymore room to move the light back to take advantage of that inverse square law crap related to light intensity.  Nor did I have any ND filters for the flash...remember the poorboy thing here.

I tried using the silver side of the second sun shade to "reflect" light for fill, but I was totally not liking the look.

I did, however,  have access to some ivory sheer material and a portable clothes hanging stand.  I tripled folded up the sheer material, placed the portable clothes hanging thingy in front of the fill light, and draped the triple folded sheer over the clothes hanger and viola....I got my look.
Photo by Michael P. Young – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons.
So, you might ask:  Is there a new tapestry of curse words hanging over the poor house in which I shot this?  Actually, no...I've learned to control my anger towards inanimate objects (though I till think they try to taunt me!).


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