It started with a basketball player with a huge wingspan, a last minute order to a custom wing making outfit known as Mother Plucker Feather Company (yes, you read that correctly), an overnight drop ship to North Carolina, some creative use of c-stands, and then a long silence on my part after the shoot. Things get forgotten.
The combination of those elements above resulted in the simple fact that, twenty years after I commissioned the creation of these wings for a Sports Illustrated assignment, they’re still in my garage. They’ve traveled here and there, most recently to Romania, where I made the backlit banner picture above. We ran it on our Instagram feed this week, and there were….questions.
Soft, peaceful images tend to require similar light. The backlit angel was lit very simply, with a big, wide open, soft white Profoto umbrella, with a B1X unit firing into it. Very underplayed. Just a touch of light to banish the shadows. A fill, hovering just below the level of the ambient, light as a feather. (Ouch!) The sun is doing the heavy lifting here.
The above was again, simply opened up via a Profoto B1X into a 4′ Octa softbox. Small pop into an already soft light environment. I wanted the background to play well in terms of the exposure value as I like the decrepitude of the wall, and its powder blue, airy feel.
The angel images were shot with a Nikon Z 7, with the camera stabilized on a Gitzo systematic. One light, keep it simple, add wings. One of the hardest aspects of this trip was actually shipping the wings internationally. Seems they are made of real feathers from real winged creatures, so they had to be steam cleaned and certified as such to cross the border.
Love working in Romania, a country steeped in history, legend and lore. On the same day I shot the angels, I also made the picture below. This old lab I shot just as I found it. I put a Manfrotto Skylite panel in the window to amplify the window light and popped a flash through it, just a bit. Added a small, discreet bounce off the ceiling. It was a day of making my lighting unseen, unfelt by the eyes of the viewer.
I work in Romania with a truly intrepid production team, known as Idea Film, run by dear friends, Ionut and Andrei. They ease the way, know the players, and find great locations and talent. Always looking to return. Hopefully soon. The wings will fly again!