Monday, 26 November 2012

Moments Made. Moments Lost.

Tango in the Gym 6I taught a lighting workshop recently and one of my dance project partners wanted to take advantage of the large space we had for the workshop to shoot inside.

My dance project is about dance outside, however Polina has a mild aversion to the cold, and tango clothing is not exactly intended for being outside in Scandinavia in the fall. In our last tango shoot, she didn't wear her regular dance outfit because of the cold. For her, not wearing the proper clothing took a bit of the glow off of the shot.

When Polina realized that the workshop space was large enough to shoot in, she made repeated suggestions that we could do another tango shoot, only this time with proper tango wear. I can be a little dense at times, but I finally caught on.

Despite a rather long day of preparing for, and then holding, the lighting workshop, I was excited to try out some new concepts for the series. I was afraid that we would try and shoot too many concepts because we had an indoor space, something we were not likely to get again for a while. Shooting too much would be counterproductive and the result would be a dilution of our creative energy, so I thought we would limit our time to exploring only two ideas.

The first concept was to explore the other viewpoint of a composition that Polina had made. In her photo, she was looking over Anders' shoulder. She had posted this image on her Facebook page and the image was so strong, I felt compelled to contact her to see if she was interested in my dance project. Since this shot of hers was the reason for connecting, I thought it would be neat to do a shot of Anders looking over her shoulder. This would be a black and white shot, with a dominant white background, and with Anders as the primary subject.

Saq, who helped me set up the workshop, decided to stay and help me with my shoot, and then get some shots of his own. Having someone help you on a shoot saves a lot of time because you can get everything ready before your subjects show up. While Polina and Anders donned their tango gear, Saq stepped into the frame so we could adjust the background lights and then the key light.

Tango in the Gym 8

Tango in the Gym 7

Without Saq's help,I would have had to wait for Polina and Anders before I could zone the lights in even remotely closely to what I wanted. Even with his help, Saq and I fiddled with the lights trying to tune them in while Anders and Polina worked on the nuances of their tango pose.

Of the images taken for this concept, this is my favourite. It breaks the general rules of cropping, but I like the closeness of it.

Tango in the Gym 6

My second idea was for a broader, more involved, and mostly dark composition. I stuck a light outside the gym with a CTO gel on it to warm it up. I wanted to banish the dark Norwegian sky by imitating the sun shining through the windows. I had to take a couple of photos to judge where the shadows would fall.

Tango in the Gym 2

Tango in the Gym 3

Using these shots I created a composition and marked the floor where I wanted Polina and Anders to stand. Although I was looking for a mostly dark image, I needed the dancing couple to be recognizable. I needed just a small spot of light for their faces and bodies, but the light would be well back, out of the view of my lens. To get what was needed, we had to heavily modify one of the strobes with tape to keep the fill light from spilling over on the wall.

Tango in the Gym 4

I was looking for a mysterious kind of image, so I asked Saq to go outside and be "the creepy guy" looking in.

Tango in the Gym 1

I couldn't see too many people appreciating the humour in this image, so we also took a more conventional capture.

Tango in the Gym 5

With this shot, I felt I had completed my work list that I had set out at the beginning of the shoot. It was the end of a long day and I was starting to feel a bit tired. I still had to pack up all the gear from the workshop and drive home. So while I should have made images from the angles shown in the set-up shots of the shadows, I decided to literally pack it in and I ended the day with some moments made and some moments lost.

As always, thanks to Anders and Polina for their patience and their attention to detail. Whenever I shoot with them, I always find myself reaching for the next level. I must also thank Saq, who was a tremendous help fine tuning things and was a creative anvil to hammer out my composition issues with.