Saturday, 23 April 2011

"Female" + "Martial Artist"

Two Sides of Krystal KnowlesWhile some women have their place cemented in history as warriors (Joan of Arc, Boudicca, Catherine of Aragon), their numbers are much fewer than those of men. Indeed, history records some women as having to fight disguised as men: Hua Mulan, Hannah Snell, Kit Cavanagh. I was pondering all of this when I was taking some photos for Angela over at a couple of months ago. Chikara is a magazine for female martial artists and as I was shooting, I was mulling over my perception that "female" and "martial arts" is still not something that is expected to be said in the same sentence, even with the sacrifices of women like Nichola Goddard etched into the public psyche.

I wanted to portray a female martial artist as both a woman and a fighter. To do so, I decided to try a technique I saw in one of Joe McNally's photos where he used both strobe lighting and continuous lighting to create a dynamic multiple exposure in-camera. I thought it would result in the perfect image to tell the story of a "female" + "martial artist".

I explained my idea to Angela and she recommended Krystal Knowles as a subject. I also explained my idea to Mike McCarthy and he found me a great location and agreed to help me with the shot. I would like to say that everything went as planned and my genius as a photographer allowed me to bag this very complex shot on the first try, but I cannot. Even with Angela's and Mike's considerable help and several hours of shooting, I was not able to put all of the elements together in a way that I was happy with. Getting the static and the dynamic lighting to balance properly AND create a multiple exposure in the camera (and not in Photoshop afterwards) proved to be beyond my skill level.

I went back to square one and pored over my shoot notes and photos. Mike had suggested (several times!) to simply create the image in Photoshop from multiple images taken separately, but I wanted to create as much as I could in-camera. After much thinking, I came up with a revised plan.

I rented some movie lights from Dave over at PSPS, a production service company here in Halifax. The movie lights would allow me to control the dynamic lighting, since I could turn them down or up to suit the exposure. I then worked with Charlie at Neptune Theatre to find an opening in their production schedule when I could spend a few hours on their stage. The dark theatre with its black backdrop drapes would allow me to not only control how the light bounced around, but it would give me ample space to create the composition. Everything aligned this past Tuesday when Charlie had an opening and Krystal was off at the same time, so we quickly locked in the shoot.

I set my lights up on Monday afternoon.

Set-up - Two Sides of Krystal Knowles

As this was a workday, I was on my own to test and adjust the lights. I made do by clamping a broom to a light stand and giving the camera's self-timer a workout (allowing me to jump into the picture and pretend I was Krystal).

Set-up - Two Sides of Krystal Knowles

With everything adjusted as closely as I could get it, I met Krystal and Angela the next day and was able to put everything together for one shot, which I call "Two Sides of Krystal Knowles".

Two Sides of Krystal Knowles

See a larger version of this shot here.

Many thanks to Krystal and Angela for their patience as we went through hours of shooting which was nothing more than an exercise in learning for me. Also thanks to Mike for his help and advice during the first shoot, which helped tremendously in setting the stage for the second shoot. A special thanks to Charlie and Dave in finding ways to get me a discount on the rentals. Without their help, I could not have afforded to create this image.

1 comment:

JayM said...

Joe would be proud. ;-)