Anatomy of a 2-Shot


NOTE: My apologies for the lack of visuals on some of these blog posts.  When I transfered them over, the images didn't make the journey from my old site.  I am slowly getting everything sorted, so check back and hopefully the blog you're looking for will be restored in short order.  



So this would seem to be a fairly basic 2 shot, right?  Looks like a single key-- maybe a little fill on the background-- basic stuff-- right?


This arguably “simple” shot wound up taking over an hour to set-- and I thought the struggle would make a nice blog entry.



So I’m going to get a shot of Thea Andrews and Simon Baker-- We’re doing the interview in the courtroom set, but the back wall isn’t lit.  Let’s fire a test and see where we’re at--

Okay-- first off-- white balance is obviously set to daylight-- I’m going to need to go to tungsten and CTO gel any strobes I use.  


The interview has a Kino-Flo set-- so I think-- let’s take a natural light shot to see what the room is telling me.  If I’m lucky-- I can get away with no strobes, dial the D700 up to ISO 3200 and save a lot of time.

Not-- horrible-- but there’s a big overhead fill light that’s casting a shadow off of his head, onto his shirt front.  I can’t do much about that-- and the background is nearly gone.  So I’m going to have to opt for strobes.

Two strobes now.  SB-900 up and left, SB-800 right aimed at the back wall at full power, gelled CTO, f/9 at 1/100, ISO 320, 38mm.  


I’ve obliterated any sense of the wall.. That’s a problem.  I can save some extra room light by dropping the shutter to 1/60, the slowest shutter I can get before I will risk introducing lens blur at 38mm.  Still-- I’m thinking-- full power out of an SB-800 and nary a trace of the background?  And another problem...


The strobe isn’t firing consistently on the background either.  Switch from CSL to SU-4 optical-- still intermittent.  Can’t risk a background malfunction when I’m going to get one crack at this shot.


So I move the strobe to the left side of the room with a better line of sight and go back to CLS.  Now I’m even further away from the back wall-- and I realize a shutter speed drop isn’t going to help much.  I’ll move the ISO up to 2000, dial down the foreground SB-900 to compensate (well, the camera TTL will do that for me).  

Better-- but still not enough pop on the background, right?  And there’s a fall off.. Time to add a second SB-800 to the background.  But now I’ve got 3 strobes on 1 channel, and I know the 2nd background strobe is going to ignite the background-- 


So as I add the 2nd SB-800 (batteries are dead, of course.. ugh)-- I split the background SB-800s to channel A and put the foreground SB-900 to channel B.  Now I can independently manipulate the foreground and background lighting from the camera menu.

Now we’re cooking!  I know the light is basically there-- now it’s just a matter of finding the balance.  


What I didn’t think of-- note to self-- is at this point I could have just dialed the ISO back down and I would have been there.  Instead, I dialed the strobes down in power.  Same result, because you can’t see noise in a D700 image at ISO 2000, but still-- a better option would have been to dial off the ISO.


But adjusting the strobes down did the trick and when my talent step in-- I know the lighting is where it needs to be.


This was the shot I’d envisioned starting out.



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    Response: good
    What's up, just wanted to say, I loved this blog post. It was funny. Keep on posting!
  • Response
    A Vast Wasteland - Photo Blog - Anatomy of a 2-Shot

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