Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wind, Rain, Sleet, Night: It's Not A Challenge, It's Ambience!

That slogan from the post office that they no longer use about something like neither wind, snow, rain, sleet or gloom of night... whatever... is something that still applies (to me anyway!) I went downtown with Krystal monday night to shoot some photos for her modeling portfolio. We had already postponed this once due to rain (a heavy consistant rain, only cool to shoot in if you're looking for that runny-makeup drenched-hair kind of thing (which was NOT the intent of this shoot)).

We had done some shots on one side of the street and I suggested we move over to the other side (dodging cars and catcalls as we went) and we started to shoot there. Something out of the corner of my mind nagged at me for a second or two before it came into focus: those clanking clinking sounds I was hearing was hail starting to come down! We were under a few trees and didn't get hit (right away) which gave me time to yell at Krystal "jeez, what is that?" "Hail or something!" "quick, run for cover!" & we pulled under a store front that had a generous overhang.

One of these shots (here on the left with her hand up on her head) was taken just at the edge of this overhang with available light while it was raining (in fact in other shots I have taken around this same time you can see streaks of rain falling behind her... but they're a little distracting). You'll see some hot spots as far as lighting on her right, but some cool side and backlighting. The side and backlighting was actually by design. In the limited room we had to move, I couldn't use the flash because it would have been too overwhelming... so I kept moving her right and left and I kept rising and squatting until the angles were all right with all the different street lighting around. The light on the right was from some blinking little christmas light LEDs in the window that would fire off at random times... so in this image they came out a little hotter than I would have liked, but still an interesting lighting situation overall. Note to photographers, this was at iso 4000 with a slow shutter, hand held, but check out the exif on the white balance: I dialed it down manually to 2650K to neutralize all the amber and tungsten tones from all the street and store front lights! Thats why the light from those LEDs looks so... so... white!

The hail turned to rain & wind and it seemed ugly for a few minutes, but then lightened up, eventually slowing to a drizzle, then it stopped. So we ran back out into the street to get a few more shots using the reflecting lights off the wet pavement as part of the shot.

I think we got some killer shots, although as you can see I was partial to the shots we got after the pavement had been wettened down (wettend? is that a word? looks funny!).

The only shot before the rain that I think we may use now is one where I was trying an experiment and leaving the shutter opened for like 25 seconds, then popping Krystal with a flash right before the shutter closed (yes, I used the stop-watch function on my watch!) Anybody know why I did this?!? It gave me an awesome background shot but apparently I wasn't pitching just enough light on Krystal - I think the flash unit was timing out because I had to hit the test fire button on the remote a couple times in a row to get the flash to shoot (thus also throwing off my timing).

But this is an effect I'm going to try and try again until it's perfect... check out the light trails of moving vehicles! Thats what I was after! This late at night on a weeknight I think the traffic was lighter, so a busy night or at a better location is going to be an awesome approach to a very unique photo.

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