A Shot in the Dark

I arranged to meet my trainer and his fiancee at the sculpture garden in the Bluffview Art District an hour and a half before sunset.  I have no portable lighting, so the timing is critical.  They have agreed to model for me so I can try shooting portraits on location for the first time.

I get there early so I can walk around and look for good places to shoot.  I discover the tall building across the street from the park casts an enormous shadow and the shadow is growing rapidly.

When my models arrive, the light is not good in the park any longer.  But we take a quick stroll through the middle of the district (it’s a bit optimistic to refer to it as a district; it’s more like a short block) reveals some interesting architecture between historical buildings with a nice gate with an arch over it.  Of course, it’s even darker between the buildings, but we give it a try while it’s still bright enough.

We work our way around the area, trying shooting against a variety of backdrops–Bluffview affords a lot of interesting choices in a really short walk, so it’s perfect for this.  We end up at the Hunter Museum on the porch of the Georgian style mansion portion of the museum, sticking with the historical theme rather than walking over to the extremely modern side of the museum.

We play on the porch with the sun setting in the background.  Some red stripes start to appear in the sky and I attempt to get a few shots with the sun-streaked sky as a background.  This does not work at all.  I keep trying to get my subjects positioned so the spot lights on the building are lighting them, but, as shocking as this may be, architectural lighting doesn’t really work well for lighting people.  My shutter speed is way too slow–I coach my models to hold as still as possible, but let’s face it, I need a strobe.

When I review the photos later, I realize one reason why professional photographers often have an assistant.  I failed to notice when my subjects’ clothing did awkward things (like an errant tie that pops out of the bottom of a jacket like a pet snake).  This makes some of the shots I otherwise like annoying.  While the fiancee asked me to watch for her bra straps showing and my trainer was worried about his jacket not fitting properly, I really had trouble remembering to think about it.

I will have to bring Pat next time so I don’t get overwhelmed with trying to figure out how to use whatever portable strobe arrangement I end up with and watching clothing at the same time.

Tisen was happy to see me when I got home.  He thinks he’s my assistant and was mad I went without him.  I didn’t tell Tisen that Princeton, my trainer’s dog, was at the shoot while Tisen stayed home.