Behind the scenes: Fashion show
A few weeks ago I was photographing the Purdue Fashion runway shows, when I came across a really great strobist lighting opportunity. The photos above were the final result, but it was ‘a game of inches’ to get the lighting just right.
Both of the photos below were taken using the 70-200mm lens at about 170mm, f4, iso400, and 1/160th shutter speed. On the left is the available light, and on the right I used one bare speedlight (Canon 580ex II) at 1/2 power.
That’s one of the senior designers who stepped in to help me fine tune the light right before the show started. I had tested it the night before at rehearsal, to find the right spot in this super long runway, but needed to double check it before showtime. Below are the test frames I took then:
Notice the super fun red graphics that I put there :) Part of the trick to getting this nice lighting on the runway was timing the shot for an exact spot on the runway — and when the models hit it, I hit the shutter. I also tried to catch them mid stride (as they are bringing the trailing knee forward a bit. Top photo, red dress) which is a more flattering ‘pose’, but the key part was where
they where in relation to my light. The red dot
was a black piece of tape where most of the models stopped to pose for the audience. The red lines
are the cracks between the runway panels. My light was setup to be the nicest when models stepped into the feathered edge of it — which was when they first stepped over the 2nd line from the pose mark. Follow? I watched for the pose, then watched them cross the first line, and then when they crossed the 2nd… *click*.
You can see in the 3 photos above that too early was not enough light, too far past the line was too much light (and too harsh — note the harsh shadow and overexposed face the red arrow shows, and the photo on the right (albeit out of focus) was juuust right. Goldilocks light. Below is that spot:
Now this really only works because I’m shooting telephoto — at 170mm or so — and isolating the models against a distant background. My light is hitting the ceiling and the column nearby, before hitting the models, and then spilling all over the scene around them…but you’re not seeing the spill around them because of the lens choice and composition. Below is the mess you see at 70mm:
The low drop ceiling, which was really a curse last year (because I was shooting the elevated part of the runway
) and didn’t leave any headroom to light the models nicely, was a blessing this year as I used it to wash the models in really nice light. The red areas are the effective surfaces that are providing the light. Some of it kicks off the gold colored pillar on the side (a built in warm tone to the light), and the rest of it bounces off the white ceiling. The resulting geometry is roughly the equivalent to having a 5′ octabank, up at about 45 degrees in a classic soft portrait lighting position. This is why I was so excited about it — kind of a rare opportunity on a runway! Here are some views from the other side of the runway:
On the right, the arrows point out the gear that make it possible: the yellow homemade padded bag is holding my Cybersync wireless receiver
(CSR-B) that triggers the flash. The lower arrow is pointing to the Canon CP-E4
external battery pack, holding eight AAs and allowing me to fire away for the duration of the 2-hour show with no worries. The upper right arrow is pointing out the Gorillapod by Joby
(SLR size), which is how I can attach the flash to the handle on the speaker there. The flash of course is the Canon 580ex II
, and was set at manual 1/2 power and 14mm zoom (wide diffuser panel out).
Whew! Let me know if I left anything out by leaving a comment or question :)
Stay tuned to the blog for more lighting and behind the scenes, and if you want to learn more of this in person, check out my 1:1 lessons or our new lighting workshop.