Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leko Redux

Life has been fun and busy of late, with all sorts of interesting diversions and distractions thrown in my path. My last day job relocated out from under me, and I have been looking for the right job. I had a positive interview a couple of weeks ago and a follow up interview has been scheduled for this week. I look forward to confirming that it is a good fit. I have had several really fun and adventurous photo shoots (and I really need to get some samples out here) that have filled the coffers a bit and fed my soul. In early December the aerial dance troupe of which I am a member - Cycropia - had a corporate gig that was fruitful and exhausting. It was particularly challenging because as we assembled at the venue to start make-up, we learned that a dear friend (of 30 years for me) had died quite suddenly and unexpectedly. We were distraught, but had to suck it up and put on a happy face to perform. The show they say.

For one of the recent shoots, the client was performing for the first time in a burlesque show. The event was a women-only show, dancers for dancers, and the venue is lousy for good photos. So she hired me to get good performance shots. We set up the studio sparsely, blank wall and hardwood floor, and rigged the Leko spotlights rather than the strobes I mostly use. I have had the Lekos since late 2009, but seldom find an opportunity to use them (here is one such occasion) so I was delighted to do so. Those pics came out great, and if the client doesn't object might post one or two here. We'll see. In the meantime I was inspired to try some other things with them, so yesterday I took myself in to experiment. The results are not quite what was in my head and that is OK. It was an experiment.


The studio is not capable of rigging aerial apparatus, but I wanted to make it look like I was being supported by the silk (which in this case really was fine silk rather than an aerial silk which is sturdy tricot). The artifacts on the wall are dirt on the Leko lens. I can't decide if I REALLY need to disassemble and clean them, or if I like the vintage spotlight look. There is little doubt that I could create this same shot using a strobe, and probably in far less time than this took, but again, the learning was the point. There is something unique about having the spots in play. Plus when irised down to a narrow spot, they add great shadows.


The vignetting is from the lights themselves, boosted a bit in post camera processing. In the burlesque shoot the shadows of the client/performer were and integral part of the composition. I often shoot against black backdrops and do everything in my power to prevent or eliminate shadows so this was a new treat. In these two experimental photos I kept the shadows strong, but was not so concerned about them in the composition. In the second I planted myself just a few inches from the wall to get a strong outline, and it adds a strong visual element.

If you are interested in the technical details here they are. The Lekos are not particularly bright so the camera was set quite differently than I would with strobes and it contributes to the overall look and feel.

Camera: Nikon D300
Lens: Sigma 30mm prime (on this camera it is equivalent to 45mm)
ISO: 1000
Aperture: f/13
Shutter: 0.3 seconds
Light Source: Single Leko spotlight at about 20', camera-right about 6'
Post-Processing: Image free rotated (the top one), minor tweaks to levels and brightness (especially the top one), converted to B&W, adjustment layer added with moderate sepia toning.

And might I add that I am quite pleased that my body still looks like that at 50. *grin*


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