Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chihiro Noda starring in "A Change of Plans"

Chihiro Noda
Update: Thank you to Ardean Peters for the fun behind the scenes coverage!

Maria is a wonderful makeup artist. Together we've been planning one particular idea for maybe two months now, maybe longer, but it involves a sunny day and a chaise lounge. We've already had to cancel it once because of rain. This time around it was looking promising until about an hour before we were supposed to start. Too late to cancel again, so...what do you do¿? Make lemonade and hope it at least stays dry.

I was really looking for that summery, care-free, washed-out look and wanted to shoot into the sun to get that effect, sun! So we changed locations and the entire concept at the last minute, which also worked out well. I still have plans for the chaise, but had the weather not been so lousy, we wouldn't have done this particular project, so it's all good.

Originally we even had a different model booked, who cancelled at the last minute. Chihiro is actually a makeup artist (!), but agreed to step in as our model. She said she'd never done it before, so I thought very hard about things I could have her do so that she wouldn't feel awkward trying to pose. It turns out that she's a dancer as well (!!!), which I only learned when we put the Cambodian guitar down. I thought she made a pretty convincing model and she's super cool - very easy to work with!

So where did the Cambodian guitar come from? Well, the short answer is: from Cambodia.

I saw it at a garage sale I happened to pass and bought it (for cheap) from a guy who went to Cambodia to visit his brother who'd been living there. I saw it and almost caused an accident trying to get the bike across the street to take a closer look. I thought I might be able to fix it up and actually play it. Yeah...I'm still working on that, but it makes a great prop in the meantime as it turns out.

We were also lucky enough to have Ardean Peters on hand, who you might remember from our adventures with Mike Gayden. We've both worked together with Maria before on a couple of short film projects and that's how we met Nancy, who was also there to help with creative ideas (and to help us carry all the gear). Nancy's also had some experience playing violin and was able to give Chihiro a fast lesson on holding the bow convincingly.

So no washed out care-free Summer Sun. So to try and match the ominous clouds we went for something more dramatic with our lighting setup. Cristy and Maria traded off booming the umbrella overhead to create that shadow under the chin and give the jaw some shape. Then we had two kicker or rim lights both about 45° behind our model to add drama and separate her from the dark, industrial background.

After we exhausted the possibilities with the Cambodian instrument scene we thought we should somehow use the truck, which was parked right there. I know...maybe that's already been done, but we had to give it a try and keep the creativity going in search of more drama....

By this time though, we had lost quite a bit of light and it was really hard to try and get any of the sky in the scene, so I gave up trying and just went with a near black background.

I love the idea of people coming together and throwing out ideas to try and while you're there you might as well try them!

We set a couple of speedlights in front of the truck's headlights and really...I hadn't planned on taking the stands out in post, but...I had extra frames without the stands in front of the truck and so I decided to spend the time putting those frames together with with ones that showed the stands in the shot and wound up with this after doing a lot of cutting, pasting, cloning and free-transforming:

But I wasn't sure if it was maybe better suited to a portrait orientation instead of landscape. What do you think?:

What luck - Chihiro also turns out to be a dancer!


@lv1nX said...

Nice series buddy :)The aspect ratios for your cinematic reel is a bit off. It's very close to 1:1 ratio with the black strips. Make it closer to 16:9 or longer. Try to elongate it and then adding thiner black strips. Otherwise, I like it :)

shayne gray learns photography %$#! said...

Thanks Alvin - quite right. It was actually 1:1, but looking at it...I don't think the border makes much sense because it's too dark at the top for many monitors to even see where the picture ends and the border starts. I just replaced it now.

On a side note, I have noticed that a square picture gives you the largest possible display on some sites in standard view like Flickr.

shayne gray learns photography

Craig said...

Fantastic man - saw some of these over on Flickr, but the one with Chihiro holding her ankle is spectacular - she was a good sport and a great find :)

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