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 and a 22″ sock (affiliate) over the beauty dish. 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 (or equivalents) used in this photo session
- Nikon D4
- Nikon 24-70mm f2.8G AF-S / Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II
- Profoto Acute B2 600 Ws power pack
or alternately, the Profoto B1 flash (500 Ws)
- Profoto beauty dish with a 22″ sock for the beauty dish
- Manfrotto 1004BAC – tall light-stand
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?