Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hollywood Flash

It's been a while.

Tomorrow I am visiting TRIUMF (a nuclear and particle physics lab) for the purpose of taking photographs.  And I haven't been practicing lately, let alone made any formal preparations for this particular task.

I have a few ideas though, and one of them is to snap some cool looking stainless scientific equipment using, in Joe McNally's terms "Hollywood Lighting".  I.e. colourful light.

So I dug around the house and found a blue plastic bag and a semi-translucent red pencil case to use as flash gels.  My test subject is a pewter sculpture of a cyclist.  My aim was to get one shot with a mix of blue and ambient light, and one shot with both blue and red.

First up, the blue.  I quickly tossed the idea of mixing ambient light and went all flash.  The ambient light dilutes the blue, and I find the mix of blue light and hard shadow (as opposed to blue light, and less blue light) to be much more interesting.  This, in my own fantasies, is how a nuclear and particle physics piece of scientific equipment should look.

Nothing fancy here.  Shot at f/10 and 1/400s, with flash about 1/4 (IIRC) so as to overpower the ambient light.  The flash spills onto the background and makes it all blue.  After opening it up on the computer it dawned on me that this could have easily been done with an un-gelled flash, by adding a blue tint digitally.  So, a waste of time.

The red/blue mix was both more difficult and looks way cooler.  Since I only have 1 speedlight, I used a 6-second exposure, which gave me enough time to flash it blue at camera right, scurry to the other side of the table, and flash it red.  f/18 was used to minimize ambient light.  I tried to aim the flash so that the blue would hit the backdrop too, although it doesn't look like I was very successful.  Hopefully I can pull something off during the real deal tomorrow.

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