For quite a few years there has been a link-up between Blythe Bridge Camera Club and Cheadle CATS. On Sunday 23rd October it was time for their full dress rehearsal and time to setup a photo studio in the school canteen.Wendy arrived with her usual early promptness and soon the large car ( SUV type vehicle ) was loaded with the gear. Converting the canteen at Cheadle Academy into two photography studios takes quite a lot. Once inside the two setups started to be put up, one a dark grey / blue mottled cloth with an Octabox for the key light and two gridded strip lights to provide a separation kicker.
The other setup was a blown white background with a gridded beauty dish for getting something nearer the ‘character portraits’ that I prefer to plain flatly lit blown white background style.
I emphasise ‘blown white background’ because ever since the development of ‘the internet photographer’ many mistakenly call this ‘high key’ which it isn’t. High-key is not easy to do and requires the right subject matter as well as lighting. To be high-key the tones need to be in the upper third of the histogram.
Lighting levels were, as is usual for me, determined by using a lightmeter and then in-camera custom whitebalance was set. Setting the lighting and cameras up at the start makes the processing time afterwards much quicker and more accurate. Given that the more challenging issues were going to be dark clothing on a dark background and the other white clothing on a white background it all becomes manageable as opposed to a nightmare of attempting recovery from the raw file.
Once the cast have been made-up and got into costume it is then a very quick positioning, posing and photographing sequence. In this respect it is much like when I’m photographing a Prom or a Ball except that some of the costumes are not exactly what the person would ever choose to wear !. Also some cast members had several changes of costume, particularly that master of non-disguise, Leclerc.
I was glad that I setup the beauty dish to use and I left the white background unlit when using it.
Once the cast photos were done it was dismantling time and then some performance photos where the technical skills required are quite different.
All lighting equipment used for the was Hensel with Lastolite backgrounds and some Manfrotto stands supplementing the Hensel ones.