Rocky Horror Studio Set Up.

Setting up the Studio

Setting up the Studio

Health & Safety

The first area of concern is always Health and Safety so ill begin with a recap for the studio environment.

What is important is that the models, make up students and fashion students will all be entering into the studio area which often presents hazards, particularly to those who are in an unfamiliar environment. As a result I explained the risks to anyone who arrived in the studio area prior to the photo shoot.

The Studio

Health & Safety

There are always hazards and dangers when working in a studio. Below is a list of some of the more obvious risks.

1)      Tripping – Cables should be laid carefully to avoid them becoming a trip hazard. Use the closest electrical socket that avoids trailing cables across areas where people will walk. If this is not possible then the cable needs to be covered with matting or hazard tape.

2)      Heat – Certain lamps and flash units can get very hot. Avoid touching them directly and leave time for them to cool down prior to disassembly.

3)      Heights – When working with items above head height then ask for help from the lecturer.

4)      Falling Equipment – Always follow specified guidelines when erecting equipment for use. Secure cables under light stands and position light heads over the light stand legs. Space the telescopic light stand extensions evenly and do not over extend beyond the stands centre of gravity.

5)      Electric Shock – Do not touch or handle electrical equipment with wet hands and keep all liquids including drinks away from electrical sources. When disconnecting the light head units always turn off at the mains before pulling the kettle lead.

6)      Dazed and confused- Bright lights and powerful flash units can cause temporary blindness, disorientation and confusion. Avoid looking directly into the light sources. If your vision becomes temporarily impaired then wait until your full sight has returned before continuing. Certain medical conditions like epilepsy can be triggered by repeated flashes. Ensure that anyone in the vicinity, including your model is not affected by this condition.

7)      Damage – Accidents can happen, if something gets broken then inform the lecturer. Light bulb glass is particularly sharp so take extra care if one gets broken.

The Lighting Set Up.

We are using two lighting set ups for this shoot. The first is for the models in the stage costumes. These were the images that needed to be moody and I was aiming for an effect similar to that achieved by Kenny McCracken. As such I set up my studio as below.

This is the lighting set up for the Phantom character.

This is the lighting set up for the Phantom character.

I wanted my images to be like Kenny McCracken

I wanted my images to be like Kenny McCracken’s

I opted for a two light set up. The key light was mainly directed at the upper half of the subjects body, this was to provide sufficient illumination so that the outfit and model was clear. I positioned this light close to the subject and adjusted the power to return a meter reading for an aperture of f/16. I also used a large soft box light modifier and stood the light at approximately 45° degrees. I set the light this way because the angle would provide definition in the features and costume, the proximity to the subject ensured the light fell away quickly giving a nice black background and the soft box diffused the lighting.

The second light was there to allow me to control the mood. The higher the power of this light the greater the illumination of the subject and this allowed me to create a lighter or darker atmosphere. After a few experimental shots I opted for a meter reading 2 stops below the key light of f/8.

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I have shown below the test shots I took prior to the main photo shoot with the progressive changes to the lighting.

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.This was both lights at the same power f/16

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.
This was both lights at the same power f/16

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.This was Key light f/16 and fill light f/11

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.
This was Key light f/16 and fill light f/11

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.This was key light f/16  and fill light f/8

I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.
This was key light f/16 and fill light f/8

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I did a series of test shots to see how the lighting affected the image.

I angled the fill light downwards slightly so the lighting would never be completely even, however I felt the first image did not provide enough contrast and even though the clothing and face were well lit I thought I could bring the fill light power down to add to the mood. With the fill light set at f/11 the image took on a far more dramatic atmosphere and still maintained good cover of the clothing and face. Given the nature of the subject matter though I wanted to take the fill light down further so I set it to f/8. Once I saw the result I instantly felt this worked, the clothing and face has started to slip into darkness but it is not so bad that it fails to meet the client expectations. I also felt that this gave the subject a feeling of emerging from the darkness, similar to the models in the Kenny McCracken images.

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3 light set up.

I used a 3 lighting set up for the narrator.

I used a 3 lighting set up for the narrator.

The Narrator was a very different character from the rest of the cast.

The Narrator was a very different character from the rest of the cast.

Because the character of the narrator is quite different from the majority of the cast I wanted to change the lighting slightly to reflect this. I still wanted the same mood and atmosphere that the 2 light set up gave me so I didn’t want to change my key or fill light so I decided to introduce a 3rd light. This additional light was attached to a boom arm and positioned above and behind the subject, shining down. After some experimentation I opted for a open reflector light modifier with a red gel attached. I chose red because there is a red theme running through the film, from the lips on the poster to the clothing and many other areas. My goal was to change the background slightly so it had a red hue. The first problem I encountered was that the black backdrop absorbed too much light and I changed it to a grey one, the next problem I had was that the light emitted was either too bright or barely visible. It took a bit of practice before I got the lighting looking how I wanted it but I found the effect quite pleasing.

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