Thursday, October 27, 2011

Haunting Halloween Portraits

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I had the opportunity to work with some models, artists and fellow photographers (from Los Angeles Redditors) on a Halloween-themed photo shoot.

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The location was a ghost town, an abandoned oil drilling town that was a couple of hours from Los Angeles.  I figured we would be moving around quite a bit so I opted for a lighting setup that would be easily portable.  I brought three SB-800s, a couple of light stands, a beauty dish and a reflector.  Doesn't sound like a lot but after carrying them for a while it was like dragging a body. :))

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Schoolhouse:
We started shooting late in the afternoon.  The sun was still quite strong.  I opted to shoot in the schoolhouse.

For the key, I used a Fotodiox 18" beauty dish with diffusion sock, mounted on the Cowboy Studio bracket.  For the fill light I originally planned to use an on-camera SB-800 with the Coco ring flash as a master/commander.  However, I found that the Coco ring flash diminished the master flash's output so much that it could not trigger the slave flash. 

I instead used bounce flash as fill, bouncing off the walls and ceilings, the way I learned from Neil van Niekerk.  Here are a couple of the shots:

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For some of the shots, I positioned a bare flash outside the window, camera left.  Also on camera left, but closer to the camera (inside the room), was the beauty dish.  I then used bounce flash as fill.  Here's the result:

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Outdoors:We moved outdoors to shoot atop a rusty gas tank. Our agile model stayed in balance even with her knee-high stiletto boots!

For these shots, I used a bare flash camera left a little behind the subject as accent light, a beauty dish as key light, then I bounced my on-camera flash to a small reflector held by a friend camera right.

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Toolshed:
We took some shots at a small toolshed that had lots of junk and a partially decomposed animal (small dog? ferret? weasel?).  Because there wasn't much room to setup a light stand (and because my arms were aching from carrying the stands around) I opted for simple bounce flash at this location.

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That decomposed creature near her feet is real!

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For one of the shots, I added a bare flash as backlight to give a little background separation.

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Mansion with 13 Rooms:
At twilight, we moved to the mansion.  I switched to the same setup as in the schoolhouse, using a socked beauty dish as key light, and bounce flash as fill.

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I also took some shots with the same setup plus a bare flash as an eerie background light.

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I like how the shots turned out and I had fun meeting the other photographers.  I definitely look forward to working with them again.