Let there be... more lights!
Well, through the kind assistance of the school's inventory, I was able to secure four more 500W Bowen strobes. They will SLAVE-trigger off, through their built-in cell windows, from my other four PW-triggered strobes. That means I have a total of eight variable strobes and two minor fixed strobes to work with, tomorrow. So, that's that. I have reached the limit of my portable sunshine. I'll round up the rest of my AC extensions and hope the fuses don't blow when I pull the shutter! :eek:
The school's indulgence has come with a price: they want seriously good looking results from this. I am kind of getting anxious, myself, to be quite honest.
The real difficulty, at this point, is how visibly accessible the "Zepher" will be when I arrive on Saturday. I mean (and I am totally serious about this), this is a true crap shoot. The condition of the barn, according to the person I spoke with today, is... undetermined. Which translates into... whatever will be... will be. I just cannot be pushing tons of locomotive out of my way. If only, eh? :p
As a possible alternative, my instructing professor suggested I do a step-by-step (literally) horizontal panorama and just shoot the thing in a progressive series of overlapping images. Wouldn't that be fun? There is a minimum distance I would have to be away from the train, of course, due to its overall impressive height of 16-feet (5-meters). Probably would require some elevation and he also suggested the use of a fixed rail, to maintain the level and smooth progression to the shots. Well, let me get out my PVC pipe and joints and just build that solution.
Oh, but if I were made of money. :rolleyes:
Rooz, the shots above were simply test shots to illustrate the problem. I thought I wound up with something a little better with this one.
Originally Posted by Rooz
Still, I agree... it needs some work, hence the return trip.
Lighting a train - a variation
On Saturday, I went back to Train Barn 9... and found the track OPEN! -> Yes! (fist pump)
I then went on a mission to try and communicate my need to clear more of the track adjacent to the Zepher. That effort was, in a word, unsuccessful. (You may interject my mental negative reaction to this, if you'd like). But, of course, being the pleasant and mild-mannered photography student, I simply thanked them for considering it and we went back to the barn to take a breath, calm my angst and consider what would take place, next.
I broke down and bought the Tyvek "Homewrap" and with the assistance of a wonderfully helpful friend, hung it as a drape reflector from the rafters, in a 200' straight line. Just as a point of detailed information, the "Zepher" is 350-feet long. We paced it off. I only had 200' of drape, so, because that red train engine was still on the second track, we actually masked it with the Tyvek-drape, to prevent it from reflecting on the Zepher.
Folks, hanging this drape took about an hour and half of concentrated ladder climbing, string routing, drape pulling. I then set up all the strobes. I used every light I had brought with me, eight Bowens strobes and the two splash SLAVE strobes for a touch of fill lighting. Another hour of light set-up and tweaking. By the time I was ready to take the first real shot, we were four hours into this shoot and definitely feeling it. I broke out the 12-24mm... sized it up and fired away, using a taller ladder and my 8-foot tall studio pole to hold the camera steady. I wanted several series of varied exposures and 2 f-stop HDR runs.
The above "working view" shot was taken with the TAMRON SP AF 14mm f/2.8 Aspherical IF
Anyway. here is the image from the prior week, using the direct lighting from the strobes.
α850 - SIGMA 24-70mm f/2.8 DG EX IF HSM
@ 26mm - f/16 - 1/125 sec. -/+ 2-steps - ISO-200 - Synchronized strobes (via PW) - HDR merge - Handheld!
And here is the indirect lighting...
α850 w/ SIGMA 12-24mm f/4-5.6 DG EX
@ 20mm - f/16 - 1/60 sec. -/+ 2-steps - ISO-800 - Fixed Monopod - Elevated platform - HDR - Indirect panel lighting - synchronized strobes (via PW and onboard flash trigger cells)
This second effort took quadruple the amount of time that the first effort did... and I even had serious help, this time! There is a definite shift of improvement, in my evaluation of the shot. I am sure wider drape (we were limited to the nine-foot width of the Tyvek, could have solved it substantially better, but please consider that this truly was a learning experience with limited funds available. Also, acquiring wider material would have required better lead time to order it and have it shipped. Be sure that no one else is paying for this but moi! :cool:
And, of course, as promised... the obligatory "ambient" lighting shot.
α850 w/ SIGMA 12-24mm f/4-5.6 DG EX
@ 22mm - f/11 - 1.6 sec. - ISO-400 - Tripod - Ambient Lighting
Take aways... an artist statement
Over the past two years... a lot of lighting principles were demonstrated by others or performed by me, in an effort to see the effect. The "Family of Angles" is one of them, when trying to illuminate a highly reflective surface (metal or mirrored), but again... as you point out... you really don't know until you step up and try it for yourself.
From beginning to end, this particular thread is a rather detailed explanation and illustration of what I, personally, have experienced. It has not always been fun. In fact, there have been torturous events involved. By being rather extreme, I have tested principles far beyond the standard fare the other students bring in. They simply do not make the reach to do much more than complete the assignment (sometimes) and they get what they get, a degree and someone else puts them through the "real life" ringer.
Ambient lighting can be just fine, but you are left with what you find at the mercy of "whatever" illumination there is. If you are willing to accept that... then there you have it, a rather raw image, uncultivated and... well, as is. Walk up with your camera, snap the desired angle, and then walk away. It really does not require much more than that. The guy in front of you & behind you will, more than likely, lay claim to a similar shot.
Now, from an educational standpoint, I don't really see the value of that kind of effort. By doing so, you have taken all your lighting options and, effectively, heaved them. Hey, it is definitely cheap, I will grant you that. You could probably call yourself a "photographic spectator." You know, a low-impact sort of "green" photography, I suppose.
Personally, I desire more than that from my technical efforts. If it does not work out... I suppose you can drop back to the "as is" position and say that it proves or disproves a point. In this case, I wanted to add my "personal" touch to this normally immovable historical monument, which, in most cases, would be an "as is"-shot. I wanted to clearly demonstrate the variants that technique-lighting can provide and, perhaps, inspire others to step up and make their own efforts and improvements. Again, it may not always be as successful as we would care for... but, whatever it is... my friend, it is your image. You are the photographer. Make your mark.
Adding some style to the vanilla
In regards to the "ambient" lighting variant... I took the below image and ran it through the RAW converter and made three JPEGs with 'daylight', 'fluorescent' and 'tungsten' White Balance settings. I then added them to the Automate HDR process of PS CS5, with a +/- 0.5 exposure to the fluorescent and daylight images allow the process to go forward. It does not like to merge things without some exposure variation. Out it came and I then added a little more contrast.
There was a bit more red than desired, to it, so I used a color adjustment layer with settings of C/R -16, M/G +5 & Y/B +10
Now, my argument for "long exposure" is that the eye does not quite have this capability. This is a 1.6 second exposure, allowing the light and the colors to, you know, "soak in." In a way, it is artistry, also. Unfortunately, without touch up, the blacks kind of get washed out and it just does not look... well, the human eye does not do this.
On the subject of "whacky" White Balance issues, the image below is straight out of the camera, from the "Steam Shop." It made me laugh.
a850 w/ SIGMA 12-24mm f/4-5.6 DG EX
@ 24mm - 1/10 sec. - ISO-400 - ambient (Tungsten WB) - tripod