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Archive for January, 2009

The Lighting Workshop-Day 7-Amazing Faces

Jan 26

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:52am

Amy…Beauty dish and a fill card….

Jasmine…2 SB-800 units…both through Trigrip diffusers…..

Aaron and Amy….Each with one SB-800..Trigrip diffuser…camera left and right…..

Alex….overhead diffusion, low beauty light….

Christina…one SB-800 through a diffuser, off to the side…..

Today is the last day….we’ve been having a ball…

More tk…

The Lighting Workshop, Day 6….or, Valarie’s Boyfriend Came Over

Jan 25

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:50am

His name is Aaron, also a trainer at Crunch, and a very gracious presence on the set. Both he and Valarie are amazing.

I kidded with Aaron yesterday that if he and Valarie stay together, they’re gonna make some beautiful kids…

Process of light here was pretty simple. First, the hoodie portrait, with an Elinchrom beauty dish directly overhead of him, diffused at the source with the sock that goes with the dish, and then diffused again with a 3×3 Lastolite panel. Smooth light. Then we added 4 SB-800 units, running SU-4 on two sticks winged out slightly behind him camera right and left. Zoomed to 105, gaffer tape gobos so they didn’t spill onto the background. This produced nice highlights on the sides of his body. Then, we peeled off the diffusion. Took away the 3×3, took away the sock, and put a silver panel on the floor where he is standing. Bounced two more SB units straight down into it. His body goes even more electric.

Aaron was terrific. At the end he thanked all of us, and said we were the real talent, and he was just, in his words, “a prop.” As I said to him then, “There are props and there are props.” He has real talent, and a remarkable look in front of the lens.

We’ve certainly been having fun.

Of course, Team Emmanuel showed up….Kristin, Adriana, and Ekaterina…..

As did Joe Hodges, dear friend, and veteran of 29 years with FDNY. Good guy. Great subject. This could be called his retirement portrait. As you can see, he’s already working on a scruff.

We did this with one Elinchrom 3′ square softbox, and then duplicated it with 2 SB-800 units through a Lastolite panel.

And of course, the lovely Kristin was amazed by it all….

This done in the basement, all with SB units…..Lastolite all in one umbrella, green gelled flashes down the hall…..

The Lighting Workshop…or, John Starace is a Beautiful Man

Jan 24

In Seminars & Workshops at 10:10am

He paid me to say that. Kidding.

Veteran firefighter….

Budding actor….

John just retired from FDNY, as did Joe Hodges, who will join us later today. Great guys, great subjects in front of the lens.

For some reason, workshop participant Keith wanted to have a pic of John and I with his very well traveled Scooby Doo….

Photo by Chris Hountas

We keep rockin’ the pixels in Dobbs. Martina came back. Obviously because of Andrew’s magnetic presence. Yowza!

With Martina, we did some interesting mixes of big flash and small flash.

Above is an Elinchrom 27′ beauty dish, with a floor bounce from another Ranger. Also, though, in the interests of keeping it simple, below is one SB-800 unit through a tri-grip diffuser panel.

Physical trainer, and as far as I’m concerned, a hugely talented presence in front of the lens who should be snapped up by one of the big agencies in NY, Valarie Wong, also came back, and given her physicality, had a different feel under the same beauty dish setup than Martina did.

She was also extremely patient in the cold basement as we spritzed water on her.

Now, the above is all done with small flash. Four in the background, 2 gelled red, 2 gelled blue. I had ‘em each to their own side, and Drew came up with the very good idea of mixing them. In other words, cross light with red and blue each going to one side. Mix it up. Nice result. Overhead is the infernal Ezybox hotshoe softbox. Man, that thing is getting to be almost like cheating, the light is so simple and good. On the floor we have two SB-900 units, bouncing into a Lastolite silver reflecting panel. And then Will is following Valarie’s face with a Honl-gridded SB-800, worked to a low power and warmed up with a bit of CTO gel.

Then we got a little nuts with the water.

I noticed the speculars that popped up on the plastic sheeting when we sprayed Valarie. Made me think of looking at Times Square through the windshield on a rainy night. So Leah sprayed down the entire backside of the plastic and we let fly, in a fairly uncontrolled way. I say that cause having Martina explode in front of the lens is definitely one of those hang on to your hat moments you have as a shooter. She is physically expressive and exuberant, and yet she is able to maintain a calm, lovely elegance to her face while her considerable arms and legs are busy whirling about in beautiful fashion. Quite remarkable. She is also completely sweet, but will throw you a zinger now and then. A native of Slovakia, she got in front of the camera in a Slovak army jacket, shouldering John Starace’s halligan and she looked at me with kind of a Clint Eastwood glint in her eyes and said, Vaht do you vant?” Oh my. This is where confidence is required at the lens.

Dawn came back. Physical trainer, mother of three, friend of Lynn, beautiful and down to earth. A pleasure to work with. She’s been with two classes so far, and they have all loved her. We did a high key feel with a red outfit and sunlight that stayed with us surprisingly long.

SB-800 through an Ezybox, and another bounced off the floor. Shot at 250th at f/14. Obviously fighting the volume of sun. My bud Matthew London was in the class and asked about wrestling down the wall highlights. Hmmm…problem. Enter high speed sync. More SB units. Gotta get more power. Out goes the light shaping tools, and enter–hard light. Auto FP is a great tool, but you gotta dipsey doodle with it to make it work. You gotta push the lights close and double them up, or triple them up or….you get the idea. The flash pulses during the exposure, so you lose power, and you have to take steps to get power back.

The above is 1/8000th at f2.8. Got the background down, and a different feel up front. More tk…


The Lighting Workshops, Day 4–Big Flash, Small Flash?

Jan 23

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:49am


The cast…..Martina with the hat, Phil, Morgan in leather and Rebecca. Phil is, as I mentioned, is an FOL (friend of Lynn), and is a formidable presence in front of the lens. The ladies come up to us from NY on the train courtesy of Emmanuel Models. Aristeo, a good friend of our studio, has always stepped up to help us with the workshops by sending people he represents who are looking to build portfolio material. It works well. The young women have a ball, and get a ton of pictures out of the day, and the class has great talent in front of their cameras. Of course, everyday, Andrew goes to pick up the women at the train stop, and we’re naturally very concerned about first impressions. It’s been going okay, though.

The crew….Lynn Delmastro, organizational force of nature, studio manager for 16 years, one of the treasures of my life; Will, in gray, seasoned pro out of Connecticut; Drew, with beard, first assistant in the studio; Leah, equally at home both in front of and behind the camera; Numnuts; Andrew–non-stop energy and laugh riot machine; and Linda, also a pro from Connecticut, who keeps everybody in line, and the workshop running on time.

The above were done with an Elinchrom Octa, the big fella of location light. But as always, we mix it up.

This is two SB-800 units, one bounced off the floor and the other through an Ezybox Hot Shoe soft box.

Seven SB-800 units. Geez, this one started and almost didn’t stop.

Now the above was one light. Whew! One Ranger with a long throw reflector through a window. Does many, many things. You can work the hot spot on the wall. Or go right by the window, as below.

Lovely one light treatment for Martina…then use another pane of glass, with bit more grime and diffusion, and get this for Phil….

Or, try Phil in a multi small flash setup….with again, the Ezybox as the main light, gold tri-grip for bounce underneath his face….

Bless the happy accidents…Rebecca in front of the camera, and the overhead lights didn’t trip. I don’t miss them.

More tk…

The Lighting Workshops, Day 3

Jan 22

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:31am

I periodically go to Crunch, a NY gym, and meet my friend Ederin there, who’s a boxing trainer. He then takes me into a ring and kicks my sorry ass, up, down and sideways. I figure I’m just honoring a long and proud tradition the Irish have of getting hit in the head.

I did the pictures Ederin uses on his training business cards quite a while ago, so he knows I’m a photog. Last week, I walked into the gym and there was this unconsciously beautiful trainer with a whole bunch of great hair piled on top of her head. Ederin told me her name was Valarie, and she was looking to have someone do pictures of her.

“Step aside! This will be difficult task, but someone has to do it!” I introduced myself and asked if she would be interested in helping us at the workshop. She immediately said yes. Logical, really. I mean, who would say no to me?

Boy, are we lucky. Valarie came up yesterday and lit up the loading dock at the old factory, big time.

This was a more complicated setup than I bargained for, but well worth it. The light is a combo of one Elinchrom Ranger with a long throw reflector, out on the dock, firing back into the plastic draping, along with 6 SB units. One is camera left and responsible for the green wall. Another green highlight is down and on the right. The red glow is coming from 2 units laid down on the floor, courtesy of a suggestion from Dale Zanine, who, glutton for punishment that he is, came back for another workshop after having spent a week with me in Santa Fe. He’s a terrific shooter with a long history of great sports photography. Below is the scene on the dock. Another Ezybox hotshoe solution. Can’t get enough of that light. Photo by participant Richard Haber.

Then, there was Joy.

Very appropriate subject for a beauty light combination, yes? Wonderful look, wonderful presence. Her mom and brother came along for a time and hung around with us on the set. And, speaking of the set, we had my bud from Ladder 6 in Chinatown, recently retired firefighte John Starace, up for the day.

John posed for some character portraits, cause he is, well, a character. He’s in SAG and in his next career, expect to see him in Goodfellas, Part 2.

All the above shot D3, tethered to Macbook Pro. All images shot on Lexar digital media. We’re back at it again today. More tk…..