Recently did a studio based Speedlight project, emphasizing the new controls and eloquence of light available now with the Nikon SB-5000. The notion was to take a completely unadorned model, who walks into the studio sans makeup, or hair styling, or any of the model magic stuff that makes them pop in pictures–and make a photo. Then they would be besieged by the talented hands and eyes of our creative crew. And they would emerge, about 5-6 hours later, transformed. My job was perhaps the simplest–light them well, once on camera.
All of the lighting is SB-5000 radio TTL units, running through a whole gamut of Lastolite shapers. Uplite, Skylite panels, Ezybox hotshoe softbox and the new Speedlite Box 2 all were used on this. The aim of course was to make the Speedlights sing and dance and jump like their big brother studio strobes. As you can see below, the set was populated with simple light shapers, diffusing the main lights, pushing light up for fill and beauty, and accenting here and there.
And they did well. Here’s the thing. With the tech we have now, between the amazingly responsive cameras, sophisticated metering, fancy pants flashes, excruciatingly sharp optics–what’s not to like? What’s not possible? The camera gear we have at our fingertips now constitutes a one way ticket to Imagination City. There were times, way back in the day, with the hammer and tong tools that were available, that you had to fight so hard you felt like a galley slave on a Roman ship. “Row faster! The Emperor wants to go water skiing!” (As the old joke went.) Also makes me respect all the more, the ladies and gentleman of those early photographic eras, who produced masterful work despite the lack of computers, Photoshop, coated glass and built in histograms.
The transformation was a team effort. The brilliant Anastasia Durasova, assisted by Magdalena Mikulcakova, Madison Personette and Laurissa Lala Romain, did the body paint. The elegant Sam Brown did the styling, assisted by Monia Taylor. Linh Nguyen coiffed the hair into a surreal state, assisted by Wendy Miyake, and Ben Martin. We had three themes: Lauren Graves became flowers, Candice Lam was lace, and Marsha Larose evolved into crystals. It was fun. We could have kept going. I mentioned to Lynn DelMastro, who put all this together in her usual amazing fashion, as we were brainstorming, “Why don’t we just work our way through the Periodic Table?” She looked at me over her glasses in that oh so familiar, “Have you lost your marbles?” kind of way. In the aftermath of the shoot, Annie Cahill orchestrated all the postings and social media info on the shoot. Everybody in the studio goes all in on big productions like this.
Michael Cali shot a lovely video over on our channel. Please take a look. The body painting, done with finesse and in exacting detail, is fun to watch evolve. Andrew Tomasino, a wonderful photog from Pa., ran the set, assisted by Alex Ryerson We worked at Splashlight Studios. And as always, thanks go to the Obi-Wan of flash, Nikon’s Lindsay Silverman, and the fearless leader of the Ambassadors, Mike Corrado.
For reference, here’s our a comparison grid for the models, from when they walked into the studio, and when they walked on camera.