Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ladies Restroom photography...need I say more?

On-Location photography with mixed lighting, and a failing flash is a worst case scenario for someone like me.  I definitely prefer the great outdoors, with a simple mixture of sun in the equation.

I was assigned to shoot photos for a case-study this week at the Eagle County Regional Airport.  They needed photos of the partitions in the ladies restroom, along with photos of the GM of the airport and the architect who designed them.  Pretty weird if you ask me....

The shoot started off OK, and I decided that to minimize my editing, I would get lower to the ground, make sure my camera was level, and shoot more zoomed in whenever possible.  The higher you stand, the more distorted the image will become.  The lights were unreadable, I could not figure out the white balance for the life of me.  No matter what gel I placed on my flash, it would not blend with the 2 different types of lighting in the rest room.   WORST CASE SCENARIO!  I made do with no gels (seemed to work OK) and with some heavier post-processing involving adjusting the channel mixer on select regions of the photo.  The flash came off a bit blue, on people, and orange everywhere else.  My flash was failing me even with an external battery pack.  I finally figured out what was going on, and changed the internal batteries and it began to work fine.  Finally, the doors in the restroom were the shiniest metal ever, so a hot spot on the doors was impossible to avoid, and always showed where my flash was placed unless I put it inline with one of the granite slabs in between.

In situations like this, you must not look like you are sweating all the problems.  If the client sees you stressed out, they lose their confidence in your abilities.  I tried to maintain my cool at all times, and worked hard to fix all the issues. 

On top of all this, women needed to use the restroom.  How can there be only one in an airport you ask?  I wish I could tell you an answer....  I would like to tell the lady who spent about eight minutes in the bathroom, and made sure that I would remember she had been in there, that this was NOT appreciated.  I guess you gotta go when you gotta go though.  I will be sanitizing all my gear immediately.

One device that really helped me with this shoot, was my Lumiquest light modifier.  The Quik Bounce lit the 2 men evenly, with just enough light, while still adding some dimension to the image.  I will definitely be using this on my off-camera flash for all indoor events.  The other thing that saved this shoot, was to regularly check the LCD.  Now if only I'd had an Expodisc or a gray card, then my white balance may have been better, but those lights were impossible to read!

You may be wondering if shooting ladies restrooms means I have bottomed out as a photographer.  I'll let you decide the answer, but when my check arrives we will see who's laughing.


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