Occasionally I get asked what gear I use. I totally understand this question, I used to ask it all the time too. It can help, it can point to what is needed to achieve a finished result you aspire to. Of course, over time, you start to realize that the gear is not nearly as important as the result, and the maxim "whaever works" is totally true - it really doesn't matter if the results are good! What I have I use because it works for me, for what I do, at this time. Will it change someday? Will I? Perhaps, probably. But for now, it has settled into a method that I can depend on, and that helps - when the uncertainty factors are dialed down.
So, without further ado...
The MASTER SHOT - welcome to the dark basement of toys
In this shot, my "stage." a 9 foot roll of medium gray (dove gray) paper, about $65 per roll, and I get about two sessions with each roll. To the right, you see my 50" octabox diffuser, and this was my best purchase, and the most vital piece for my lighting. It's large enough to illuminate an average human standing, and it gives off a soft, beautiful light that wraps gently around a person's features. I side-light almost exclusively, so this is my key light, my main source, and it's large enough to spill over most of the background paper and illuminate it. To the left, is a long, thin softbox, I think it's 40" - and it has now replaced my smaller, 13" softboxes (on the far left) that were fine for faces, but not big enough for a secondary light for side-lighting. Over the expensive red chair prop from Pier 1, which you will see in many of my images (the Collective, for example), is the monster, the beast. It's a 16" beauty dish, named aptly, because when I do use it, oh my, the light is gorgeous (see: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shibbopics/8297303106/in/set-72157632449605530
), but oh, it is a PAIN to use. It's very heavy, and it needs a counterweight, moving it is not easy, and as I prefer it to be an overhead, heavenly light, it is difficult to get up above it to adjust the flash head. there is a sweet spot for the light, but it takes time to find it, and I spend a long time adjusting both the model and the light when I use it.
Other than that, not much else is used! I will cover the lights themselves in a bit...
a closeup of the 50" octabox and the 40" tall diffuser...
There are times when you want a sparse, minimalist image, and other times you want a challenge. For me, someone who does not do well shooting outdoors and prefers the controlled setting of an indoor studio with controlled lighting, any time I want to convey an outdoor environment means piecing it together one layer at a time. The downside to this is it can be dificult, hard to blend, and you need to gather the needed pieces from somewhere. The positive side of this is I have total control over the exposure of each element, and can choose what the sky is doing, where the light is falling, etc. For this one, I wanted a rich, fully realized outdoor environment. I gathered the pieces on a day trip to the location this image is named after, and started to assemble them. Here is the layer palette of the composition - 48 layers in all, some obscured by grouping:
Sometimes a concept forms without your knowledge, or despite your desire to create one entirely different. It reminds me that although I believe art an creation is mainly a force of will, there are other elements at work, and all of them come from within - that much I do believe.
It started a few weeks ago with making "the Myth of Fingerprints" - another in a little series of merging natural elements like tree textures and plants with human form. This one was a little different though, at least for me. This plaintive, lone character in a field seemed to say something more to me, despite the simplicity of the image, despite that lack of other elements in the piece. It was, at least to me, like a snapshot from a dream, or an imagined life just out of reach.