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Air Canada, Part 2

Nov 17

In Lighting at 10:37am


When I wrote yesterday of Melissa leaping into the big Octa, that was what she was doing. I should have been more clear, ’cause there were a couple questions about the light. There is a backlight as well. Didn’t mention it ’cause it wasn’t the main, and I was so tired when I wrote that blog that my head was about to hit the keyboard. That would have been embarrassing. Might have even hit the publish button in that instance and the whole blog would have read…..zzzzzzzppppppppppppwwwwwwwww…


So, to be more precise, the backlight here is the big Rotilux strip light, also an indirect softbox, along the lines of the Octa, just long and skinny. To get more punch out of it, as it is firing from a good distance, we stripped the diffuser off of it, and simply used it undiffused, bouncing off of the interior skin of the box. That brightens the quality of the rear highlight off Mel. So effectively, she is bracketed by these two big light sources.

Also didn’t mean to suggest that the big Octa solves all your problems in the field. If there were a softbox like that, or even a pill like that, I would have taken it long ago. It’s just one of those lights, you know, that is so broad and so beautiful, that well, you put it up and most of the time your subject gets a ticket to dreamland.

Here’s another from the weekend.


We threw this together fairly quickly on stage. Will’s light is a strip light as well, but a small strip, about 1×2 foot, with an egg crate dropped over it, thus corralling the light pretty tightly. Background is an SB900 firing on SU-4 mode, and driving off the pop of the strip, which is has a Quadra head in it. Third light provides the glow on his hands, and that is another SB900 on SU-4 mode, just flicking lightly off a gold Tri-grip reflector laying on the floor to camera right. Wanted to go with gold in this instance to provide a little color vibration with the blue tones of the background.

The light shaper for the background is a wooden cargo pallet we found on the loading dock. We put it up on an angle, zoomed the 900 unit to 200mm (very punchy) and gelled it with a deep theatrical blue gel. Bang, the background gets a touch interesting.

Still in Canada. It was beautiful in Vancouver yesterday, but I’m shooting outside today, so it’s bound to be raining….more tk….

Chris Plante says:

on November 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

Welcome to Vancouver! Rain is a given at this time of year. It certainly challenges us when shooting outdoors.

Wayne says:

on November 17, 2010 at 11:52 am

A cargo pallet?? Who’d have thought..

Great shots Joe.


Paul R (from ONTARIO) says:

on November 17, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Aw Joe!!! We’ve been begging you to come to Canada and you go to Vancouver?!?! When are you coming to Ontario? I mean you live within driving distance of Toronto – Heck I could come pick you up (and I’m 3 hrs from Toronto). Besides, Vancouver with it’s west coast lifestyle and all – I’m sure you’ll find Ontario students will retain more of your information :) (I kid).

Glad to see you cross the border though. As always great work!

Ian.I says:

on November 17, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Yowzah!! Nuff said.

Tim L says:

on November 17, 2010 at 2:37 pm

I appreciate the follow up, Joe. I have to admit that I spent quite a bit of time staring at the image trying to figure out exactly where the octa was placed to achieve the effect you got. Nice image.

Alan says:

on November 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm

Hi Joe if you are in Vancouver you should take the ferry to Victoria and come visit me I’ll show you around Vancouver Island which is beautiful. I can also find some fun people for you to photograph if you like haha.


Pierre says:

on November 17, 2010 at 11:16 pm

… I’M with Paul R…. but come to Quebec! Montreal’s a great spot for shooting!

Barna Tanko says:

on November 17, 2010 at 11:42 pm

I was just wondering yesterday if I would ever see that wooden pallet background photo of Will, so I checked back to the blog today maybe it shows up and there it is. For me that photo topped all. Thanks for posting it.

stephen says:

on November 18, 2010 at 12:01 am

Crap! I missed Steve Earle when he was in Vancouver a while back, too. I’ve GOT to pay more attention.

Well, I hope you enjoyed your time here, Joe. It’s a nice town…even when it’s pouring rain.


Jeremy Goertz says:

on November 18, 2010 at 12:33 am

I really enjoyed your workshop Joe. Thanks so much for your time and what you give back. You’ve been my main influence in my photography, and it was so great to see the way you work. Very much appreciated.



Doug Pruden says:

on November 18, 2010 at 2:02 am

You left Calgary in the nick of time. It’s snowing like crazy right now, so enjoy the rain! I really enjoyed your seminar, especially your self effacing sense of humor. Mel and Anthony were a high point, but I still enjoyed what you pulled off with the speed lights! Marilyn ( and Stinkie ) were great too. It was great to see how you worked your assistants Drew and Chris too! I kept waiting for you to yell out something light “Igor! Throw the switch!”. Thanks for everything.

Ken Toney says:

on November 18, 2010 at 10:04 am

Never throw away them wooden pallets, they come in handy! If for no other reason…bon fire.
Joe, in vegas you jumped with the girls out at Valle of Fire, can you do this jump (top photo)… neither. :)

Patrick McAneeley says:

on November 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

Hey Joe, loved your seminar in Calgary. You are an amazing presenter, and I learned so much. I am now reading your book, Hot Shoe Diaries, and it is a great followup to the course. All the best to you and your hard working assistant, Drew!

Hans van de Vorst says:

on November 18, 2010 at 10:33 am

Every post of you reminds me to keep following lights Joe… great stuff here. Love the strip one, great mix of direction, quality and color.

Craig Grewar says:

on November 19, 2010 at 12:00 am

So here’s the thing Joe. I’am a disenfranchised construction worker who wants to be a photographer. After seeing you in Calgary I realized that I have the SKILLS required to be a photographer. I can move and carry heavy shit. I can work all day and night in state of exhaustion. I can put up with twits (authority figures) all day. I can climb things. I have no fear of heights. I know how to wear a harness(never thought that would come in handy).I work in all weather conditions. Nothing ever goes as planned. I have a big mouth. I can work with booms, cranes, lifts, generators,etc. I have to keep track of tons of equipment and material.When I find a good apprentice, I keep him(Drew’s awesome). I always get the job done, doesn’t matter how screwed it is; and there usually screwed from the start.I have access to pallets and other light shapers. I’m used to being fired, laid off and being taken advantage of. Oh ya; and I too like dancers. Did you inspire me or scare me? I was trying to get away from construction. Just kidding, the seminar was great. Thanks a lot for all your effort and hard work. Cheers.

Dean says:

on November 19, 2010 at 1:08 pm

Beautiful stuff as always, but here’s a question for those of us on a tight budget: If the bag with your diffusers had been lost in transit, how might you have improvised on scene to get that dance shot?

Thanks, Z

Eve R (from ONTARIO) says:

on November 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I also support Paul R. (as wife should:)… Truly we are a great bunch here in Ontario and we would love to see you in Toronto…or a smaller town called Chatham… :) You’d be a great hit here and we would be known as “the ones who brought Joe and his light” :) Enjoy your stay in Vancouver!!

Iden Ford says:

on November 19, 2010 at 11:45 pm

Did you guys stoke up on long underwear for the crew and Drew? You know how cold it is up here eh? Toronto is plus 1 degree celcius (For south of the border that is just above freezing). Ahh but the photos are amazing and imaginative as usual. I especially love the background idea. So the cold musn’t be effecting you that much . . okay I’ll zip it.

Prashant Singh says:

on November 21, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Hi Joe,

If I may ask, how do you go about managing perspective distortion in action portraits of dancers. I have been trying to take some portraits in my home-made studio of my kids doing doing various ballet and gymnastics poses, and what I find is that often times a longer lens is too tight to gracefully capture enough of the arms and legs, or I cannot stand back far enough to capture what I want, and a wide angle lens can sometimes produce unpleasant perspective distortion. Do you manage with subject positioning, studio setup, working distance, or are there some other techniques for helping with this?

Thanks and Best Regards,

Prashant Singh

Arpad Ronaszegi says:

on November 23, 2010 at 8:16 pm

Thank you for sharing your lighting technique, and for the follow up to the previous blog. Amazing image!

Howard Pitkow says:

on December 25, 2012 at 5:14 pm

joe, how close or far away was the Quadra and blue gel from the pallet? Would you please show us with one of your entertaining but always useful drawings? Thanks, Merry Christmas to you and the team.

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