Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Are you moving house?"

A while ago, I did a shoot with the absolutely lovely Valentina with Lily doing makeup for me.  It was a Tuesday.  Tuesday night is club night for the Dublin Camera Club. I finished the shoot, left the studio as it was and dropped the two girls off where they needed to be and then went back for the club business.  When that finished I went back to the studio, tidied everything up and started bringing them down from the 3rd floor to the hallway on the ground floor.
That's when the remarks started.  "Are you moving house?"  "I only need a camera.  I'm glad I don't use the studio."  "Do you need all that?"  Etc., etc.

Well I do bring a lot of stuff into the studio.  But it depends on the shoot.  The situation with the people who make these remarks is that it is very similar to those who say "These are great photos.  You must have a really expensive camera!"  Some people have admired my studio photos but they don't look beyond the image and see the work that went on behind it.  So what did I bring?  Did I need it all?  Probably not.

I brought my camera - the one I used was the Canon 5D MkII.  I usually bring two lenses - Canon 24-70mm L f2.8 and Canon 100-400 L f3.5 but sometimes I also want to bring my Sigma
These will go in my camera bag which is quite big.  Why?  Because I photograph outside of the studio and I need to bring a range of equipment to cope with what I might be asked to do.  That will be an extra camera body (Canon 6D), two speedlights, flash meter, extra batteries, an intervalometer, etc., etc.  So when I go to the studio, there is an anxiety creeps in that if I remove gear, that I will remove something I might need.  Worse, if I'm doing a gig somewhere else I might grab the camera bag forgetting that I took some of the gear out.  So ..... I just take the camera bag as it is.

I also bring triggers for the Bowens units.  I find I can't depend on the sensors to detect a flash and trigger.  I don't like using the cable to trigger one Bowens unit either - I had a nasty (and expensive) experience involving cables so I use triggers.  I have a nice aluminium case that stores the triggers and their cables.  But this case also contains 4 speedlites and holders to attach them to stands.  I use these outside the studio.  There's no point in removing what I won't use so I bring the box 'as is'.

Next up are softboxes.  Yes, the studio has four Bowens units and two of them have softboxes - one large and one small.  The main softboxes I bring in are two 'Strip lights'.  These are narrow and long softboxes that also have a grid you can place on the front that gives a narrow soft light.  Because they are so long they will also light a standing person from head to foot.  I usually use them to rim light people from behind.  Sometimes I bring an Octobox but not this time.

Since I was going to do some relatively high key shots I brought my own Bowens 750 unit because it has a bit more power than the club's Bowens 500s.  I use it in a particular way to achieve nice white background and floor.  I wrote up how I did it a while ago and it can't be done with regular stands.  I have to use a boom and the boom needs to counterweighted so ...... I bring in my own stand.  So that's a Bowens unit, power cable, stand and weight.

What else?  I like to use fill in reflectors.  I try to avoid using fill flash and prefer to bounce the main light off a white surface.  The only white surface in the club's studio is a couple of sheets of polystyrene and they have to be either held or propped up against ..... something.  So I bought one of my own.  It's not the fanciest piece of equipment or is the best made but it works AND the reverse side is black so I can use it to blank off other lights/flash that would otherwise cause lens flare.

Occasionally I like to play with slow, or even long, shutter speeds or try some shots that are the equivalent of double or triple exposures.  These require a tripod so I bring that just in case.  The list is growing.

That more or less takes care of the photo gear.  What else?  Props - that's what!  In the studio I have left a swivel chair, a 4' x 6' mirror and dock for iPhones and MP3 players.  I also had a fan there but somebody broke it.  No point in bringing that stuff home.  It's just too big.
I also dress my models.  Yep, I have a collection of dresses, tops, shoes, coats, capes, corsets, body stockings and a range of materials that I buy to drape the models with.  I bring some of these in bags and large plastic boxes.  And then I have accessories.  Spectacles, sun glasses, bracelets, rings, necklaces, wigs, blah, blah, blah.  The majority of these go in a large makeup kit I bought.

So that was everything.  Sometimes I don't get to use much of it because the shoot takes an unexpected turn.  Other times I'm wishing I brought something that I left at home.

So I guess the guys who make the remarks would probably have built the pyramids with a shovel and a bucket.

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