It was time to leave Vancouver….maybe it was the rain, but my imagination was getting a little dark.
Done with two SB 900 units, TTL, with the trigger device being the SU800 attached and extended off camera via the use of two linked SC29 cords. I do this often to extend the TTL signal and reach units that are fifty or sixty feet away in a creepy alley. The SU800 is perched atop a light stand and aimed so it will clip the sensor of the green gelled light that is on a floor stand and sitting behind Pooyia, Vancouver based shooter and Vancouver Workshop assistant for the week. He embraced his role as “lunatic in the alley with the axe” with a disturbing amount of fervor. Up front, my friend Hannah does the noir “young damsel in distress” thing incredibly well. She is lit with the Lastolite Ezy-Box Hotshoe light, the new one with the interior baffle. It makes a great, localized, portable portrait unit. Nice and soft, not too much spill. It too, is positioned so the SU800 can see it. It looked something like this on paper….
Hannah Coleman is a wondrous New Zealander and one of the truly talented ballerinas I have photographed. We worked together on the Nikon SB900 video, when she was dancing with the Boston School of Ballet. For the video, she pulled some absolutely stunning dance moves, in addition to this amazing sort of on pointe catwoman. (Halle Berry move over!)
She mentioned she was leaving the school to dance for the Calgary Ballet Company. Hmmmm….things pass into the rolodex of my noodle, and when I was heading for the Vancouver Workshop, I pinged her on email. Wanna do some pictures and work with the class?
She basically emailed back the words, “En route.” It was a terrific stroke of luck for the class as they had Hannah flying, leaping, turning and twisting, all with grace, enthusiasism and good humor. I threw my hoodie on her and brought her outside by the docks to do a TTL fill flash demo, and she immediately turned into the most beautiful hobbit you’ve ever seen.
The above is TTL, shoot through one half an umbrella. Left the backing on half of a Lastolite all in one, and then took some stripes of gaffer tape over the diffusion half, just to break up the light a little. Kept moving around her hand held, cause the flash is giving me some stop and sharp oomph, and the background is okay if it gets a bit moved and fuzzy.
My thanks to the BC gang for making it a wonderful week.
Onto the mild climes and laid back style of mid-coast California, and the Lepp Institute, run by the non-stop duo of Hal and Victoria Schmitt. We had a great class and a good time, knocking around the Los Osos/San Luis Obisipo area, or “SLO” if you want to pull off being hip and local.
Its stressful for me, though, to be in these super relaxed, hip, California type villes, mostly cause after being around NY for 30 plus years, I jaywalk like crazy. Jaywalking is a lifestyle in NY, a non stop life and death board game played by motorist and pedestrian. It spices up your day, gets your heart rate going and provides ample opportunity for any of the aggrieved or irritated parties (that would be all of them) to be creative verbally, and loudly. I would be in SLO and simply cross in the middle of the block or against the light, and get eye daggers from the crowd at the corner, those relaxed and civic minded folks who are there drumming their fingers and obeying the big electric hand. But then, we’re here in grape country, and I figure its easy to be relaxed and pliant if you routinely have a half a bottle of wine for breakfast.
I found this great crosswalk in SLO….
Its got these sensors that activate flashing lights in the pavement when you walk into the street! Cool! I was fascinated by this and kept walking back and forth for a few minutes, much to the dismay of the traffic pattern on Higuera St. Some motorists got outright annoyed, but then I figure in downtown SLO, where every other shop seems to be devoted to the sale of pizza, there can’t be a real rush to get anywhere. Also, what was novel to me was that the lights were pointed towards the cars, alerting them to the presence of crosswalkers. (Not cross dressers, we’re considerably south of San Francisco.)
In Manhattan, they’d be pointed at the pedestrians so the drivers could aim their vehicles better.
Anyway, through the good relationships Hal and Victoria have with the local community, we gained access for the class to the Madonna Inn, which is, well, one of those places that happen only in America. Each room has a theme, from “Caveman,” to “Love Birds,” to “Sugar and Spice.” The gaudier rooms are a little piece of Vegas tucked away in California wine country.
For a lighting demo, we put Samantha, a lovely model who can look like peaches and cream one minute and Aphrodite the next in one of the uh, more understated rooms. Luckily, she showed up looking like she had just been dipped in the cotton candy spinner at the county fair, and thus fit right into all the sparkles and spangles of this exceedingly pink room.
Now, one could drive oneself batty lighting this funhouse, and try to manage every little bit and piece of glitz on the walls, but life is really, really too short for that. So I put up one big ass light–an Elinchrom Ranger with a long throw reflector boomed off the balcony just outside the windows. Cranked it out there as far as the boom would take me, and racked out the power and let fly. It comes through the window in the shape of the window, predictably, but then hits the walls and does unpredictable things, kinda the way sun light dappling through the window might. One light, no waiting!