photo: Bjørn Christiansen, Charite Viken
A year ago I bought a light modifier for my off-camera flash, Nikon SB-900. I’ve been doing a great deal of off-camera flash photography lighting whole scenes with these tiny flash units. The modifier I bought was an Orbis Ring Flash. A plastic unit which popped on your flash forming an circular light making soft shadows and neath highlights on the subjects you are photographing.
The story behind this shot gives you some ideas on how you can get various shots without moving across town for new locations. Last autumn I didn’t have any permanent studio to work in when I planned this shoot with Charite Viken and the stylists from Ourstyle. I was determined to do a shoot with Charite even though the autumn so far had been quite cold and an outdoor shoot wasn’t something we sought. Having spotted this parking garage earlier the same year that might work as a location, we had to accept a compromising. The shoot itself didn’t have any theme or plan other than that we just wanted do a model test producing various looks. We had quite a few outfits the stylists wanted Chariteto pose in, some casual t-shirts and shorts, a long dress, a body and finally this body and shorts. A parking garage has quite a few great spots for shooting various photos. Even being at the same location from noon until evening gives you variations in the light. The fluorescent lighting might be for some film makers a pain in the ass because of the 50 or 60hz flickering, but shooting stills with a shutter at least twice as fast and with the correct white balance, it is really not a problem. The light acts quite large, but without any reflectors you might get some dark eyes.
First we shot some casual photos right in front of a white wall and some car ramps using just the fluorescent light. I was cold, the make-up artist was cold and the model was freezing having to wear shorts, tees and bodies. Good sports! The second part of the shoot we went a bit rougher, shooting direct flash light with the ring flash modifier. We found a stair case working as an exit on the backside of the garage with a steel staircase giving the photos a worn style. The as Charite changed into the last outfit of the day, I found this funky looking elevator with steel doors and blue walls. It was a tight fit, but with an wide angle lens we managed to shoot a series in the elevator.
Scouting locations is quite easy. Most cellphones comes with a camera and a GPS. Make sure you have your GPS turned on, and just photograph some shots of interesting places you come across. Using different on-line photo services you can keep track of where your locations are and when they are shot. Filming the locations in addition to the photos you might get a broader idea of how the location is set-up helping you to plan the shots. Keep in mind when you are shooting on location, it’s probably best to ask before you go there photographing if it is okay. It might be private property and you’ll end up needing to delete all your shots. Working on location you should always establish two bases. One for your camera equipment and tools for your shoot, and one for ‘relaxing’, where you can sit down for a moment. These two spots you need to be sure you can’t use for your photo shoot what so ever. If you are outside, remember to tell the model to wear warm clothes that is easily interchangeable and can be worn between shots. A sleeping bag is also a good idea to wrap around your model. Keeping the mood and spirit up on long days you might consider bringing food, candy, water and such. Take some breaks, both saving your back and arms from fatigue and giving your model a break.