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 …
I had Peter, my assistant on the day, stand in the spot where I thought it would be best to do the shoot. I knew I could shoot from a low viewpoint in this busy Brooklyn park, and minimize the cluttered background. I wanted it to appear like it were just the two girls in the bubbles in a wooded area, with sun streaming down.
Two of the test shots with Peter, to get my base exposure. I initially wanted to use the available light, with a touch of fill-flash from the off-camera Profoto beauty dish (B&H) (with a sock). The idea was that if I let the background blow out through over-exposure, it would help the ethereal look.
Then, with the angles and viewpoint figured out and the equipment set up, we had Jen in the first bubble, and I instantly knew I would have to adapt. Quickly!
The test shot showed what was obvious with the naked eye – the plastic bubble reflected so much of the sky and surroundings, that you lost the detail of Jen, the one performer who was in the bubble. Next stop – drop the exposure (by two stops), and instead of the flash being the slightest bit of fill-flash, allow the flash to do most of the work in terms of correct exposure.
I hastily instructed Peter to bring the Profoto powerpack and beauty dish much closer, and to raise it way high on the light-stand, and let the beauty dish light her up from high up. I thought this would minimize the direct reflection of the beauty dish in the plastic.
However, the first shots showed the beauty dish was too high, and we got top-heavy light on Jen. Her eyes were shaded. Also, the hot-spot on the plastic wasn’t reduced like I thought it would be with the light coming from higher up.
So I had Peter again quickly move the light to the side and bring it lower – better light on Jen, and the hot-spot seen there was easily fixed in post-processing by cloning in part of the plastic bubble from a non-flash shot.
Problem solved with brief adjustments to my camera settings, and scurrying to change the lighting setup. And we still had enough time for a sequence of images with both girls in the ‘floating bubbles’.
Here is a pull-back shot to show the setup. By this time we had attracted an audience in the park.
photo gear (and equivalents) used in this photo session
the rest of this photo session
more info about the Modern Gypsies
a little bit of homework
- The camera’s auto-focus tended to grab the plastic with the bright reflections, instead of the person in the bubble. I had to find a work-around. Manual focus through the viewfinder was still tough because of the lower contrast of the subject inside the plastic bubble. So what are my other options in getting accurate focus?