Packing up to shoot can be an exercise in waffling and indecision. Like a puzzle with too many pieces.

Belinda from some decade past. 

I am photographing 16 people tomorrow afternoon. We're scheduled to do one portrait session every fifteen minutes, starting at one p.m.  I'll spend most of the morning in a windowless hotel conference room setting up bright colors and shapes against the back wall to mimic an outdoor urban space which I will attempt to put completely out of focus, or as far out as I can manage, using a fast medium telephoto lens on a full frame camera. The thing that's vexing me right now is what to light both the portrait subjects and the back wall with. My first inclination was to use the large fluorescent instruments because they do generate ample light and they would make it easy to slide the shutter speeds around on the camera to match the fast apertures. I entertained supplementing them with small, color temperature controllable, LED panels as accent lights but I kept thinking that I've shoehorned everything lately into the continuous light box and that it might be nice to shoot with flash for a change. 

The nice thing about the camera I intend to use is that it will shoot at a native ISO of 64 which gives me a bit more control when it comes to shooting with the aperture wide open and using studio flashes. By 5pm today I decided to give the old strobes a work out and I packed them up. I intend to use five monolights firing into various diffusers, aimed at different things and I'm tentatively bringing along three battery powered flashes to throw spots of light onto the background elements when I run out of monolights.  I've packed 11 light stands. Some will hold lights and some will hold brightly colored, geometric shapes back in the mid and background areas of the room to add depth and color texture to the shots. 

Even as I was loading the flashes into the car I was remembering a big Pelican case full of tungsten fixtures; spots, floods and broad lights and wondering if I shouldn't take them instead. I really do love a well made fresnel fixture; especially when it's on the front of a hot light...

I think I'll stick with my plan to use the flashes. It's Belinda's birthday today and I probably shouldn't spend a lot of time waffling over lighting. I'm loading all of the non-precious things into the car right now because I'll want to go to the early swim practice in the morning and won't have time to come back and pack up before the shoot. We're heading out to dinner this evening and I'll be parking the car somewhere that's not really secure so the cameras will go into the car tomorrow morning on the way to practice. 

No matter which lights I ultimately pack I'll wish I'd brought something different instead. That's why I like to shoot in the studio = you can change your mind at the drop of a hat and grab a different light or camera right off the shelf and be up and shooting in no time. Remote locations always call for the use of the "check-list." 

We're heading to one of our favorite restaurants. It's called Asti. My friend, Chris Archer, and I made a video for the place last year. It's on their website here: http://astiaustin.com click on "a peek inside."

Want to see a trailer for my Studio Portrait Lighting class on Craftsy? Here's a link: http://www.craftsy.com/video/course?courseId=427

Regardless which lights we end up bringing I'm pretty sure it will be a fun and interesting shoot. And that's how it should be.


Frank Grygier said...

Happy Birthday Belinda!

Wolfgang Lonien said...

Happy belated birthday Belinda! Still the same as mine...

Omer said...


Michael Matthews said...

Those eyes. Mercy!