Ran this pic on Instagram of late, and it prompted some questions about how it was done, and the speculation that the brilliant sun over the top of the left hand mirror was the source of illumination for our spendidly clad show people. It is not. I’ve blogged a bit about this before, but thought I’d just compare a couple of frames that had one source, and then two sources as the engine of exposure.
As we all know, there is only one light source in nature, the sun. It can be reflected, bounced, shaped, cut and sliced into what might seem to be many different pieces, but the origin and nature of it is singular. Hence, multiple shadows, conflicting shadows, or varieties of shapes and sizes of catchlights in the subject’s eyes, all indicate the presence of additional lights sources. Nothing wrong with that. (Lord, if using multiple light sources is a crime, I’m doing life at hard labor!)
But, it’s rare I just let it go and introduce two main light sources as blatantly as I did on this job. See below.
The light at the top of the mirror is a large strobe unit, placed atop a hi-roller, and projected outwards on a sizable boom. The lower light source is the sun, in the process of its late afternoon fall to the horizon. Below is a production pic of the set. Our lovely samba dancer, Claudia Marie, is out of the way of the camera and angled into the mirrors, and I am doing a crouched stance, at the edge of the mirrored set, to escape the reflection. I am invisible:-) There was, blessedly, not so much in the way of retouching here. Below is the original jpeg out of the camera. You can see the seam of the mirrored floor running right at camera. Mirrors only come so big, and we needed to push two of them together to make the floor complete. That line disappears in post, but basically, a little brightness, saturation and contrast, and we’re done.
Later, as the sun traveled downwards, it hid itself behind the second to the left mirror, and I was able to produce the header picture of this blog with an explosion of light that looks for all the world like the sun. Which it wasn’t. If I was relying solely on the sun to expose my subjects in a crackling and definitive way, I would have failed. You desperately need the extra pop of the big flash to augment the power of that almighty source at the center of our universe. Think of it as making the sun happen, only locally, not in the planetary sense.
Shot this with the extraordinary resolution of the Nikon D810, coupled with the super sharp Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8. Great combo. But, how fast does the digital world travel? Now I’m shooting the D850, with even more speed and more resolution. How good is all this gonna get?
The fun fact about the aftermath of this job is that, of course, I did not travel home with these mirrors. They are, I believe, currently on the walls of a kids’ dance studio, somewhere in Vegas, or at least that’s where I was told they were heading. Which is cool by me.