Setup Notes on the December Portraits (Part 2 of 3)

Here's the second in a series of posts explaining the how of the December Portrait Series.  If you missed the first 10, here's the post from yesterday.  Enjoy.


One speedlight with a 36" shoot-through umbrella camera right.  I wanted to do it all in one shot, but with 4 people you often have to composite together the best of each.  For this one it was three pics.  The men in one and the girls from the other two.  The chaos of tree branches actually makes that composite a little more forgiving.


12: Multiplicity

This shot is almost exactly how it looked in the camera so I didn't even bother showing you the before.  We shot in Times Square and during a long exposure (1.5 seconds as I recall) my assistant Dan popped the flash 3 times as I panned Pat's head across the frame.  Not really the kind of picture I'd normally take, but projects like this are for experimentation, so there's an experiment.


13: Cupcake

Two big soft sources, one on either side of her.  Camera actually in the oven on a timer.  Was a real pain in the neck to setup after each shot and required a lot of post to bring her our in the picture.  Not as successful as it could have been. I realized later that it would have been better if she also had her palms on the glass in panic, or one hand on the window and the other pulling the bottom hem of the apron up to her mouth or other such exaggerated reaction.


14: Newspaperman

Tony Ortega is the Editor of The Village Voice and my idea was to make a homage to Charles Foster Kane complete with snow globe (which I shot and composited in separately). Four speedlights.  One with a 12" softbox above and to the left to act as a keylight on his face. One bracketed to the window frame to the right as a rim light along his back and head. One snooted down aiming at the bar in the back. And one really low power on camera pointed to bounce off the wall behind me for fill and to trigger the rest of the lights with optical slaves.


15: Twisted

The original idea was to do something with refraction through the water in a fishtank, but it didn't gel, so Craig and I went outside and I shot him walking in both directions in order to composite the top and botton half of him together. Lit by a 46" umbrella on a Profoto AcuteB


16: Reformation

Neal is a recovering heroin addict who I shot for my drabbles series a few years ago. He is in a better place than he was before and I wanted to play with the idea of baptism and redemption. So I shot him in his bathroom with the crazy shower curtain. Two speedlights, one inside the tub and another handheld above with the diffuser panel down. Then in his hall an artist neighbor had drawn a ghost on the mirror, so I took some pictures and composited Neal into the mirror as if the camera was looking through his eyes.


17: Princess

Lux is the editor of and she and I had talked a year ago about taking a picture like this. The original idea was to shoot her from above laying on a pile of writhing bodies, but it's surprisingly difficult to get that many volunteers and then also next to impossible to get her laying across them with any grace. So instead I used the naked bodies to frame the shot along the edges and made it less raunchy and more glamorous. Two big octabanks, one top right the other bottom left. The subjects were laying down on a slightly satiny curtain I picked up at the corner store on the way. Shot from above in a friends loft which was perfect for the concept.


18: Rescue

Emily, the girl lifting the car, is tiny so I though it would be fun to exaggerate the fact by having her doing something superhuman like lifting a car. I didn't have access to the car's jack and it was too cold out to get that involved anyway, so I instead composited a shot of her, one of the car shot at a lower angle so I could make it look lifted, and one of me on the ground as the victim of a horrible accident. The AcuteB shot through an umbrella to soften it was used in all three shots. Also comped in a prettier sunset.


19: Keys

Relatively simple one. Shot Abby outside her apartment door, one speedlight from above with a green gel through a diffuser to match the fluorescent lighting in the hallway.


20: Kick

To have Aga kicking me onto the tracks we shot her in the studio kicking up a storm. Then took some pictures from my chest's perspective and leg/arms flying forward. Then we headed to the subway and shot the from of the train as well as some pictures of the platform that I could comp together into a space. Lighting in the studio was one strobe with just reflector camera left to mimic the headlight of the oncoming train and another strobe with umbrella above and camera right to fill in shadows and give overall illumination.