Tuesday, March 11, 2014

GPP Dubai - Day 4

This is day 4 of Gulf Photo Plus and the second day of the Greg Heisler workshop. On the schedule today is a studio shoot with a violinist and then it's off the Emirates Towers to shoot Chef Claudio Melis at the Alta Badia restaurant.

Our violinist was Parascovia, a young lady with a striking crystal encrusted electric violin. Very cool, but as it turns out, very hard to light. Greg came up with the idea of doing a simple yet elegant portrait against the curtains of the auditorium where we were shooting. He wanted to make the violin sparkle though, and that was the hard part. We first tried a ring light hoping that would set the crystals off. But it turns out that the it's too hard to get the ring light and the violin angled just right to make it sparkle. So, we move on to a large softbox to get the stones to sing.

That worked well and we got the elegant portrait we were looking for. This first setup was relatively quick, but today we saw a different Heisler from yesterday. Today he was more trial-and-error and experimenting more than the one click Heisler from before. Nothing else was different though. He was still very aware of what he was doing. Still extremely precise about every body position, every angle, the location of the violin, etc... The whole workflow was still the same, he was just taking a more casual route to the final image.

Since we had plenty of time left, we decided to do a different look. Just before our model arrived we had been discussing the old Hollywood glam look with the high contrast and hard lights, so Heisler thought it would be fun to go for a look like that. We changed the lights around, put our model on a couch and started again.

A few adjustments...

...and we have our second look. Two very different images made in the same location of the same person.

After a quick lunch, we hopped on the bus and headed to the restaurant. What an amazing location! The Emirates Towers are these twin towers with a very distinct and geometric shape. Inside it is as luxurious as you might think such a place in Dubai would be. The restaurant is on the 50th floor and security has to swipe a card to allow the elevator to go there.

The view is stunning! The restaurant is beautiful, but full of glass, which can be a photographer's nightmare. Greg introduces himself to the chef, discusses a bit of what he has in mind with him and then sets off on scouting the place. He walks all around the place looking for just the right angle, taking pictures from different locations, with different lenses, different settings, just really exploring every angle. When he finally decides on his composition, he sets up his tripod and starts working on the lights.

The idea with the lighting was to add a green gel to the lights, then correct the green color cast with a magenta filter on the lens. This would cancel the green color cast on the chef, but add magenta to the sunset sky amplifying those colors. A cool trick for sunset photos.

Everything is tested before ever calling the subject over. After all, you don't want to waste their time with light tests and such, plus it will make you look like you don't know what you are doing.

The photo at the top of this post shows the actual shoot with Chef Claudio which lasted at most 5 - 10 minutes. Once again, Greg demonstrated that the quality of the image is in the time and effort you put preparing for it. The more work you put in upfront, the bigger the reward when you press that shutter button.

Day 5 will be the last day of the Heiseler workshop. I'm really looking forward to it.