Heading to Vegas next week, and PhotoShop World 2015. It’s always been a signature event, even more so now that it is an annual blowout instead of a twice yearly, bi-coastal romp amongst the pixels. I enjoy the company of photographers, as I’ve said many times, and all the talented instructors, the energy of the whole event, and the wonderfully supportive atmosphere the convention spawns.
I also like Vegas. Is that horrendous to admit? I’ve listened to so many conversations over time excoriating Vegas, hanging at the edge of the group discussion, feeling like a hollow brained bobble head doll, a half smile fixed on my face, and not contributing because of the potential retribution and high minded sneering potentially meted out to one who might admit to really sort of enjoying the glitz, the feathers, the neon, the shows, the traffic, the hustle, and the sheer, utterly improbable, sprawling creation that Vegas is. I don’t know….it’s cool.
One of the coolest things to me, ever fascinated with the performing arts, is the myriad of talented performers who are drawn from all over the globe to the lights of the strip. If you can juggle three or four balls whilst swinging upside down, balanced on your head on a trapeze, a hundred feet over a stupefied audience–if you perhaps have those types of skills–Vegas is certainly on your radar. If you’re not already there. Amazing people. Amazing, unabashed, physically gifted talent.
Which we are blessedly able to work with for one of #PSW2015’s signature events, the Pre-Con day. I run an event called “Characters on Location,” and quite wonderfully, the characters we use are among such as you see here in the blog. We run five sets populated with talent, Speed Lights, Profoto big flash, and steady light. Participants rotate from set to set, encountering wondrous performers at each turn. They have a blast.
The monochrome pictures here were shot in Vegas, after last year’s PSW, in a place called HKPK (HardKore ParKour) and we invited a gifted group indeed. I was early on in my acquaintance with the Profoto B1 units, and had changed things up a bit. They are, of course, classically suited to location or field work. But, in the interests of changing things up, and exploring their versatility in a controlled environment, I took them into the studio. This day alone convinced me about how much they have become the absolute go to location units in the realm of big flash. Portable, powerful, and now fixed up with both high speed sync and TTL controls, they are miles ahead of anything else out there when you need power and bigger light shapers. Take a look at the video, shot by the intrepid MD Welch, for a look at our day and some notions about the units.
The performers were remarkable and the lights were fluid and easy to experiment with. The centerpiece of the day was an old tire, believe it or not. I showed up in Vegas and I said to the crew, “Well, we have to go get a tire at some sort of truck place.” They were like, “A tire?”
Sometimes things just strike you, right? And you have to see those notions through, no matter how ridiculous they might sound to anyone. I thought a huge, battered truck tire would be something these physically creative performers might have fun with. It also provided a weathered, graphically simple center of the action.
All day long, my go to camera-lens combo was the Nikon D810 with the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8. Simple. Sharp and detailed. Done. Hooked it up to a Profoto Air Remote, and started to vary and play with the power and placement of the lights. Blew some smoke in the background. Asked the performers what they might be capable of in front of the camera. The camera stayed in the same spot, rooted on a Gitzo tripod all day long. The moving parts were the athletes, who were predictably beautiful, outrageous, and creative. Just a great day in the studio!
My main light shaper was an overhead RFI 1×6 strip soft box, governed by an egg crate to limit spill. For the side lights, I placed the B-1 units behind 3×6 Lastolite Skylite diffusers. Up front was an RFI 1×3 strip, also with an egg crate. The terrific thing was that, via, the air remote, I could put these lights into and out of play, and alter their power, and never leave the camera.
So, Vegas, here we go again. Looking forward to the lights.