I’ve been looking forward to shooting at this location for a long time but during a previous attempt, the weather did not cooperate and was postponed. The day of this shoot the weather didn’t cooperate either but we were determined to at least get a few shots. As everyone assembled on location, our aspirations were tested once more with high winds and a heavy down pour. We huddled in various cars and after about 45 minutes were greeted by a break in the clouds and a gorgeous warm sunset. Everyone worked quickly to get setup and we got these amazing shots with a legal graffiti wall as the back drop.
I have a huge respect for graffiti artists because I find it a challenge to copy a drawing from a small piece of paper to a large piece of paper, so the skill required to create a 20ftx10ft mural is out of this world. I could have chosen to blur the graffiti into a soft swirl of colours(out of focus), but I chose to have both the art work as well as the models in focus.
With so many colours and such dynamic lighting, I couldn’t help but experiment with the final look of the images. There were so many possible directions I could have taken these images in, which is part of the reason it took me longer than usual to release them.
If you’re interested in the technical details of the lighting setup – more info at the end of the post.
- Camera: D600
- Lens: Nikon 85mm 1.8 G
- Strobes: Mix of Nikon 800/600 and Yong Nuo
- Light stands, umbrellas and sandbags
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of light at this location, so I brought along a lot more gear than I ended up using. That’s not a bad thing when you have the luxury of doing so, but I would not do that if the location was a few kilometre trek into the woods.
The thought process behind the lighting for most of the shots was to use the natural light coming from camera left as the main source and to add some fill on the subject as well as selectively lighting the graffiti wall with strobes. For the fill lights I used two strobes with shoot through umbrellas on both sides of the camera. I also had a strobe fire next to the wall, out of frame, which highlighted the wall as needed. The camera was metered to the sunlight and then I adjusted the strobes accordingly to provide the appropriate amount of fill (no fancy light metres here, just trial and error).
I was triggering the strobes remotely using the Nikon CLS system, which works amazingly well indoors, but outdoors the system has a little trouble. The bright sunlight would overpower the IR signal and the strobes wouldn’t fire every time. I tried firing the strobes as optical slaves, but that was hit or miss as well. In the end, I had more success than failures, but another purchase in the new year might be some radio triggers.
Since I wanted the the models as well as the graffiti wall in focus, I placed them closer to the wall and I also used an aperture ranging between f4 and f8, keeping the shutter speed at 1/125 sec and ISO 500.