Modern Gypsies

photo session – Modern Gypsies – golden birds

Another series from the recent publicity photo session with the Modern Gypsies, with two of the girls in costume, as golden birds. With costumes this detailed and complex, I wanted a simpler background. One that didn’t intrude, and somehow complemented the subjects. Classic architecture!

Here are the behind-the-scenes images to how we came to some killer photographs for them …

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photo session – Modern Gypsies – floating bubbles

Another from the most recent publicity photo session with the Modern Gypsies, with two of the girls in French period costume … inside plastic bubbles. Seemingly an easy setup, it took a few quick adjustments to the off-camera lighting while they were enclosed in the plastic bubbles. Time is very limited!

Let’s start off with the test shots, and see the progression from there …

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photo session – Modern Gypsies – stilt-walking Showgirl

On the same day that we did the Silver Birds photo session with the Modern Gypsies, we did a few other setups, including this one where Irene was on stilts … as a showgirl. Since the photos are meant for their promotional material, we needed to make the images vibrant.

We scouted around a warehouse district of Brooklyn, looking for interesting backgrounds. I felt that this huge mural would make a colorful background compared to the bright white costume.

Still working with the usual Profoto Acute B2 600 W/s powerpack (vendor) with a Profoto beauty dish (vendor) for our lighting. Lots of juice in a very portable arrangement, and easy to set up.

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photo session – Modern Gypsies – Silver Birds

Regular followers of Tangents, and everyone who has a copy of my book, off-camera flash, should be familiar with the Modern Gypsies. They are a performance group in Brooklyn and I count myself fortunate that I sometimes get to collaborate with them on promotional photos for them. It’s always exciting to work with inspiringly creative people. At the start of the month, we got together for another series of photo shoots, of which this is the first of the four. I’ll post the other sections in follow-up articles.

The theme here – Silver Birds. This silver-painted rooftop in Brooklyn, and the expansive blue sky seemed to work work well as complementary colors.

The sun is brutally bright, so I knew I’d need take along powerful off-camera flash. For ease of use, and for portability, I went with the usual Profoto Acute B2 600 W/s powerpack (vendor) with a Profoto beauty dish (vendor) and a  22″ sock (vendor) over the beauty dish.

With that setup, I was able to easily pump out Sunny 16 kind of flash – 1/250 @ f11 @ 100 ISO. Those are the settings for all the images here. I varied the power of the AcuteB powerpack between full-power and half a stop down from full power for these images. The way the Profoto beauty dish clamps on, is super-easy. Fast.

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night-club photos – Modern Gypsies – mermaid

When the Modern Gypsies asked me to photograph their one performance piece in a night-club in Manhattan, I wasn’t sure what equipment to bring along. I tend to over-prepare and bring too much. You know, just in case. So I have a tendency to overload myself with gear at times. It’s a discipline thing then to strip it down to just the essentials … but still be flexible enough to accomodate a challenging situation.

The previous time I photographed them, I knew there would be a large prep room, so I could bring in extra gear such as light-stands and softboxes. It worked out quite well for the example I showed on the Tangents blog – Modern Gypsies – masked dancers, as well as other photos out on the street, where the off-camera flash helped.

This time, I suspected I might need to travel much lighter. Night clubs aren’t the placed to walk around loaded with gear. So while I did load off-camera lighting and such into my car, I left most of my gear in the car. In my shoulder bag – the Think Tank Retrospective 20 (B&H) – I kept only the one  camera, three lenses, and two speedlights.

The performer is Irene, also known as Bird Girl in other performances. (You can follow her as @violinartiste on Instagram)

The photo at the top was taken with the Nikon D4  (B&H) and Nikon 35mm f/1.4G  (B&H) using only the lights there in the night-club. camera settings:  1/60 @ f/1.8 @ 3200 ISO  The available light looked great when it worked to my advantage, but I soon knew that I’d need to add a bit of fill-light from bounce flash

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photo shoot & off-camera flash – making the background count

I got a call from Michael Saab of the Modern Gypsies to let me know that they were performing in a night-club in Manhattan, and would I be interested in doing some promotional photos for them? Of course! Other photo sessions with the Modern Gypsies were all energizing experiences. (The Modern Gypsies also featured in my book, off-camera flash.) Working with creative people always fuels the creative spark.

At the night-club, I looked around for interesting areas I could shoot some portraits. I felt this curving passage-way could be a complementary background for this one outfit. But it took a few test-shots and adjustments to get where I wanted to be …

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For the last in the series of photo sessions with the Modern Gypsies on this day, we ended up here … launching two girls in costume, onto the East River inside a giant ball. It really did make sense. And you may ask yourself, how did we get here?  Letting the days go by … No, really, how did we get here?

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Pinkman!  More from the recent extended photo session with the Modern Gypsies.  After the photo session with Martin on stilts, we moved to one of the many colorful areas in Brooklyn where we started with Dread Eye. Working in the same spot, Michael Saab fitted his character, PinkMan! out with jumping stilts. Absolute lunacy!

Working in such bright light, I thought the best approach would be to cross-light the sunlight with off-camera flash …

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After our first, and very successful collaborative photo session with the Modern Gypsies, I was quite eager to meet up with them again. And today we had another series of photo sessions with them .. and it was one of those invigorating experiences you have working with truly talented and creative people. During the course of the day we photographed several set-ups and costumes and performers.  I will post more of these over the next few days, showing the results … but also the progression of ideas; the setting up, and some of what went on behind the scenes …

The first performer we photographed was Martin, who is amazingly adroit on his stilts.  He travels and performs across the world!

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Before we went in to Times Square with the Modern Gypsies, we did a quick portrait session with one of the Modern Gypsies performers, Bird Girl …

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