Occasionally you may have a situation where you have to do a lot of images in a very short amount of time. These kinds of gigs can be a little disconcerting if you over think them and get caught in a web of setting up and production as time slips ever so quickly by.
I was asked by a local dance company to photograph all the dancer’s headshots. I had 20 minutes to set up, one hour to shoot, and 20 minutes to vacate for another group coming in. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for setting up studio gear and the times were pretty well carved in stone. There were 28 dancers.
The images were going to be used rather small, about 2.5 inches in a brochure and the Company Director asked if they could also be made into 8×10′s for use in lobby posters.
I decided to shoot with a wide light source and fill card. Keep it really simple. My soft box was not going on this trip as the setup time prevented it, so I took my trusty shower curtain (Target, $12.99) and a few stands.
I also decided to use speedlights as I could be in, and out as fast as possible. I took the usual 550EX and 430EX as they are always in my bag. I use radio triggers whenever possible.
Our workshop site is new and has a lot of fun things… take a look at it here.
On to the simple headshot shoot.
You can see what I did in the lighting shots, but I will explain that the 430 decided to go whacky on me that day. I don’t know what it was, but even fresh batteries couldn’t get it to be stable. I decided to use the sunlight, actually Northlight, coming in the clerestory windows as my hairlight and the shower curtain with the 550 for the main.
The high clerestory windows gave a lot of light, and at the angle that it fell on the backs of the heads of the girls, it created a very nice hairlight. I shot without strobes to get the exposure for that hairlight and then matched the strobe power to the hairlight. Shutter speed for hairlight, f-stop determined by strobe.
Here is another setup shot:
The challenge is to get the speedlight far enough back to fill that shower curtain without having a hot spot from being too close or the speedlight having to be up so high that the recycle kills the timing. I had a lot of shots to do and waiting for a 3 second recycle would be mindnumbing. You can see that I angled the shower curtain (scrim) a bit in front of the subject to help wrap the light around the face a little.
I also have the fill card in front of the subject and to the side. I do not want to waste any fill on the backside of the subject so bringing it forward maximizes the amount of light it catches.
Lighter colored hair worked very well too. These two shots show how well the light works, even for a more ‘glamorous’ look.
I had to be careful not to pick up any of the over spill of the strobe hitting the background, a large 10×20 muslin that I threw out of focus with a wider aperture. I prefer less depth of field on shots like this. Here is one more setup shot showing how far away the speedlight is from the shower curtain. You can also see the over spill on the back.
I hope you enjoyed this simple little way to make images with very little in the amount of expense. Grab a scrim and fire away.