After I noticed that a few of my close friends were not camera shy and very photogenic, I thought I'd ask if they would mind posing for a few pictures. To my surprise, they were very enthusiastic about it and it turned out to be a great learning experience. Again, something that I want to document and improve on.
Having shot nature and the outdoors the previous day, this was a complete opposite. Rather that me, having to move around my 'nature' subjects to compose the shot, I was able to pose the models, control the lighting and reflection; the way I wanted. I also had a lot more freedom in terms of the angle of the shot, which I experimented with a lot as well. At times, I stood up on a chair, or lay on the ground.
I did make some mistakes and here is my chance to log and learn from them.
The studio - i.e. my living room, wasn't very big, but I had to make do with what place I had. I tried to find the biggest blank wall I could; then moved the furniture and wall hangings to create the workspace.
I had some old bed sheets that I pinned up to the wall to use as backdrops, but I couldn't seem to get the creases and wrinkles out of the fabric. After setting up the lights, these creases were worse because of the shadows they were casting, so I decided to just go with the blank wall. The wall colour was a light shade of yellow, so it didn't throw of my white balance completely. Since I was using the wall as a backdrop, I will have to deal with Photoshopping out the electric outlets, but that's minor work in most cases.
My initial setup was a $15 halogen lamp that I purchased from Home Depot. It was a 150 watt bulb - plenty of power for my basic application. I set it on ground, facing the wall and shown the light upwards. I was essentially using the reflection from the wall as the fill light.
Later on I added another 75 watt spot light, which I pointed at the white ceiling to create more fill.
Throughout the first part of the photo shoot, I was using a combination of the tungsten lights and my SB-800 Speedlight, and the results were satisfactory. At times the strong flash from the SB-800 caused shadows, so I had to be strategic in it’s placement. Moving it off the camera (triggering it remotely) worked a lot better.
In the later part of the shoot, I got rid of the flash completely. I moved the ISO up to 400, which gave me a faster shutter speed; around 1/60 which was fast enough to freeze most of the action. I played around with the white balance – setting it to tungsten, the pictures suddenly became very dull and colourless, so I left the white balance to Flash, which gave nice rich yellows, oranges and a warm feel to the pictures.
I made another rookie mistake clsoe to the end of the shoot. I started playing around with the ISO setting and cranked it all the way up to Hi.1, which is ISO 3200. Forgetting to put it back down to around 400, I took almost 30-40 pictures before realizing. With an ISO of 3200, the grain is very visible and I’m disappointed, but I will have to live with this mistake. Now, I check the ISO and white balance on my camera every couple of shots.
Just like in my outdoor photo shoot, storage capacity was a problem. I filled up my 2GB card numerous times and had to take a 10 minute break to upload it. Having taken over 500 pictures that evening, I had to take several breaks; although as I found out, these breaks served a very good purpose. While the shots were being uploaded to the computer, the models (my friends) and I had a chance to look at some of the pictures and learn from them. After seeing how well some of the shots had turned out they got more confidence and weren’t as intimidated by the camera.
I had partially charged the battery before beginning the shoot, and it lasted through the 5 hour session. At the very end, the camera was letting me know that the battery was low, but even after that, I was able to get another 50+ shots out of it.
The all important topic – the subject(s) of the shoot. Like I previously mentioned, this shoot was a complete opposite of my outdoor photography experience. But needless to say, the same rules of composition, balance, contrast and colour applied.
At first, I was intimidated to say what I wanted the models to do, and they were afriad the ask. To be honest, I wasn’t sure how to get started but as one of my friends said - “We are your clay, mould us like you want.” (I cleaned up that sentence, of course). But after playing around with poses, gestures and props, I got the hang of it, and so did they. They knew what I was looking for and they playfully posed for the camera.
I brought in a stool and took some seated shots from various angles with various poses. The thing that really broke the ice was when the models changed into their second ‘wardrobe’. They came out wearing summery/colourful outfits. This set a very playful tone to the shoot and we started incorporating flowers, umbrellas, spinning around in circles and dancing.
In the end, everyone had fun, it was a great learning experience for me and I took over 500 shots – lots of them are great but only a handful of them are spectacular – just the way photography goes.