Hanging around at home. Sick. And bugging everyone around me.

Joe York.  Actor.  Lead Role: Rocky Horror Picture Show.  Zach Scott Theater.

When you have a fever (with some chills thrown in) and a throbbing headache, and the room seems to spin every time you stand up, it seems comforting to write a blog.  I'm willing myself to get better as quickly as possible because I have an assignment tonight at 8pm to shoot a dress rehearsal of a new play at the Zachary Scott Theatre.  That means I have to be able to focus on something other than how crappy I feel for about three hours straight.

When I was feeling dandy and in the pink it was my intention to get all experimental and shoot with stuff like the Olympus EP3 and the GH2, along with a bag full of the manual focus lenses I was talking about in my previous Saturday blog.  But when I feel like crap I default to the easy, bulletproof stuff.  So I'm loading up a couple of Canon 5Dmk2's and a couple of L zooms and I figure, unless we're doing the play by candle light I'll come back with the stuff I need.  Funny how your health determines the gear you reach for.

I've been reading the forums this week and everyone seems focused on what Olympus is planning to launch on the 8th of February.  From all signs it looks like an OM-1 body style stuffed with, depending on whom you believe, the best next Panasonic sensor, a super high res EVF and acres of weather sealing.  The Olympus fans think it will focus on something before you even decide to focus on it.  It's going to be that fast.  Me?  I don't care about it at all today.  That'll change.  But even though the OM-1 was Belinda's film camera of choice for many years I never really warmed up to the body design to the extent that I pine for its return.

I'd rather think about lights today.  LED lights.  And there are two reasons for my interest.  The first is that I've received my advance copy of the LED Lighting For Photographers in the mail.  It's the book I started working on in late 2010 and finished up in mid 2011.  Judging by past books (and the fact that the book is now printed in the U.S.) I expect that the bulk of the books will be delivered to the publisher and to Amazon.com in the next couple of weeks.

The book looks good although I already found my first typo.  I'm not sure I made this public information in past discussions of the book but there is a four page section by noted wedding/beauty photographer, Neil van Niekirk.  He writes about how and why he's adapting LED light panels to his work and he was kind enough to also send along some examples.

Neil's work in consistently good as is his website: http://neilvn.com/tangents/  He also has written several really good books for my publisher and you can find more information about his books, here:  http://www.amazon.com/Off-Camera-Flash-Techniques-Digital-Photographers/dp/1608952789/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1327430737&sr=1-1

The second reason I'm into my LEDs is that I added a second, big, cheap 1,000 bulb LED fixture to my inventory and I've gotten great use out of all the gear shooting product in the studio.  Wonderful to work with WYSIWYG lights instead of flash when you are fine tuning stuff that stays still.  You can track down that nasty little reflection on a book cover and fix it before you get all the way into PhotoShop.

I used one of the 1k bulb units, along with a 500 bulb unit,  on location last week to shoot some portraits and I was very happy with the general look.  With one layer of color correction and one layer of diffusion in front of the bulbs I got the same effect I'd get from a small softbox with a flash.  But since there weren't any flash pops I didn't really have to worry about blinks and such.  It's really a nice way to work unless you specialize in sports or fast moving children...

The photo above was taken as an ad image for the Zach Scott version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.  We shot on both 35mm film and medium format film  using 1k tungsten lights, pushed through diffusion panels, as our light sources.  The film was Kodak 64T which was a tungsten balanced film with an ISO of 64.  We worked on a tripod and Joe gave us lots to work with.   I stumbled across this 35mm image as I was searching in the equipment closet for aspirin (don't ask) and I wanted to see it again so I scanned it with the old Epson V500 Photo scanner.  We could have done better with a dedicated film scanner but the last  Nikon LS-4000 got donated to somewhere almost a decade ago.

Amazing to think how much preplanning went into shoots in the film days. You had to figure out how you were going to handle the shoot in order to decide which film to bring.  And how you were going to "Polaroid" something if you used a 35mm format.  Since most of the theatre lighting back then was tungsten it was easiest to mix and match with similar lights and balanced films.  Plus the fact that 64T was a beautiful emulsion.

Uh oh.  Belinda just came out to the office to take my temperature.  She gave me the "strict doctor" look.  I better sign off and pretend to be resting....