Saturday, January 8, 2011

How I do Doubles with Models

 Happy New Year!

From Polaroid Minolta Pro

 2011 has brought me to a point in my life where I want to share more. I have spent the last two years shooting like crazy and I'm not taking any time to review what I've learned or to record it anywhere. I have a few notes in my flickr stream that help remind me and share some basic info.

  I think it's time for more. So this year I am aiming to write down the lessons I learn, as I learn them. Weekly, I will be posting shots I took and what I got out of it. Hopefully, this will be helpful to others out there, but also serve to review what I'm running up against and succeeding in.

  So there is something I've been playing with since May of 2010. I started trying to shoot people in a studio setting. Nothing fancy, mind you. I just have a second bedroom I set up as a studio with a few things.

 I knew I was going to try and use models as something central to double with textures and other  background items. To make sure they stood out and had plenty of negative space to fill with the 2nd exposure, I bought a few yards of Black felt from a craft store. It took about 8 yrds of felt to cover 1/4 of the walls a ceiling in the room. So the corner is black and doesn't reflect much light, now.

  I started working with friends and girlfriends to just have fun in the studio. No pressure for results. I used my LC-A+ for these. I use a Lomography ringflash for my light source. The connection on the hot shoe adapter is bad and is no longer reliable. It would also block my viewfinder, which was annoying. So I use it off camera and I have found this to present me with a many more lighting options. Since I use an off camera flash, that I have to trigger manually, I shoot in the dark.

  I don't mind telling you, it is a bit odd to stand in the darkness joking with your models. It usually takes about 3-4 minutes and our eyes have adjusted and see each other. I have a light on in the living room, so there is a bit of ambient lighting. We're not blind in there.

-  My first real session was with Sky Taylor. I had covered the wall but not the ceiling, yet. So I ended up with a lot of white ceilings coming through in this roll. Lesson learned. I had a roll of Fuji MS 100/1000 that had already been exposed in Las Vegas. I was nervous about how the cross processing would affect the colors, for some reason. I wish now that I had crossed the hell out of this. It would have had such lovely tones. I had shot the glass flowers in the ceiling of the Bellagio reception area.

Sky had little experience modeling and I had none with models. We started off with her in a bikini.I wasn't sure how much the glass flowers were going to come through on the multi iso film. Sometimes they were brighter than others.

Here is a accidental ceiling shot but I was surprising her with silly string in the dark. So after this roll came back, I swore to always cross process. I always end up missing the colors. I also covered the whole 1/4 of the room in felt instead of just a section of the wall.

-  The next session I had was with an old friend, Jolie Gracey-Musick. She worked at an ice cream shop with me for a while. Now she's a burlesque dancer. She volunteered to help me out. I used Fuji Sensia 400 and Kodak Ektachrome 100VS. 

  She and I laugh a lot so we had a great rapport. She's been doing burlesque long enough that modeling came pretty easy. I used the ringflash again. The first roll I shot on the Ektachrome 100VS. The LC-A+ has a fixed aperture of 2.8. You can run into some real focus problems if you are shooting at three feet and don't keep tight to that. Several shots came out slightly more blurry than I would like. I triple exposed this roll. Jolie was the first layer, then I shot the blinds in my friend's house on a lunch break. On the way back from the lunch break, I shot a layer of asphalt with a wrist twist. 

This is what it looks like with some sky doubled over it.

 So three layers got a little bright, even for 100 iso film.
With just a diffuser over the flash

With a red gel over the ring flash.

The Sensia 400 roll was shot randomly through two days, before I shot with her. There were several accidents on this roll that made me very happy. I had shot this with the diffuser off of the ring flash, accidentally, I had them pull the roll a stop to keep it from being blown out. 
I love the snarl mixing with the cacti.

This was a really lucky match up. Accidents are my best friend!

The take away from this batch was to be more cautious with my selection of textures for triple exposures. The blinds and the spinning asphalt was too busy together. It all might have been fixed if the binds had been 3-4x as wide. I also learned to let go and not always plan my doubles. Accidents couold be better than my intentions.

  I have a roll I shot under water with a model, Teresa, but hardly anything was salvageable from the roll. I used a 100 iso film with a flash that was too weak, under water. Then I exposed a parking garage interior for too long. 

Here is one of the only shot where you can see what I was going for. Not the most flattering shot of her. She would soon forgive me and shoot again. We had much better results.

-  The next shoot was with Cate Blouke. She does some stage acting and was happy to mug for my camera. I used some more Fuji Sensia 400. It really high-lites red colors while leaving everything else a more uniform tone. I loaded the roll in my Canon EOS Rebel 2000 and laid out some red LED xmas lights. I had to use the Canon as I didn't know what distance to capture the lights in an out-of-focus state or bokeh. I shot the strand of lights on a black felt sheet. and exposed the film for about 1/15 of a sec. I don't know how to set the aperture on my Canon. That thing is too complex for me. So I don't know how tight the aperture was. I rewound the roll and strung it into my LC-A+.

I went to a craft store and bought some red, yellow, and orange feathers. Getting these thrown over her right was harder than I thought it would be.

From LR- Cate vs Bokeh
I have some silly headgear I buy when I see it in stores.

  I'll be honest, I didn't learn as much from this session. I was starting to get more comfortable with giving direction to models. Asking for an emotion or body position wasn't as awkward. Kate was a natural that took direction well.

  Next week I will show you what happened when I met a body painting artist who wanted me to catalog her work with some double exposures. More ladies but wearing only paint. I mixed them with Las Vegas, water lily pads, Round Rock, TX, and Downtown Austin. Things get better looking when I have a second session with Jolie and Teresa. It only goes up from here. Stay tuned!

  As always, thanks for reading. You can follow my current process on