Last weekend, a friend asked me to photograph her cosplaying as Link from the Legend of Zelda. The theme was to have a dark and a bit foreboding scene/atmosphere to them. At the last minute while shooting though, she said to me, “Oh but I want them to be really nice too though.” That essentially means that I needed to try to find a way to mix both beauty (which is what I usually do) with my darker side. I usually keep the two separate when it comes to shoots, but in this case that needed to be put aside.
So if you were in the same position and shooting in Prospect Park, Brookyln (in NYC), how would you try to pull this off with multiple looks in a couple of hours?
For starters, I threw in a strange challenge: I put my 5D Mk II away for this one and used the Olympus OMD EM5 still on loan to me from Olympus.
Also used was the Yongnuo 560 EX II.
To create a world and a certain mood, you literally need to do the former. With that in mind, I was trained in the classical way to light back in cinematography school. Yes, that’s right: I use video lighting techniques to light still photos.
What is that philosophy:
- Turn off the lights
- Add one light
- See how it affects your scene and move it around until content
- Add more light
- Repeat two steps before
So how do you do this out in the open? If I had proprietary Olympus flashes, it could be done using High Speed Sync. But instead, I was using an extremely powerful monolight: the Impact Litetrek shooting either bare (with the reflector on it that comes standard) or with it aimed into a 42 inch translucent reflector. That way I would get lots of soft light and maintain lots of versatility if I wanted to diffuse any natural light. So in order to this I needed to combine a low ISO, high shutter speed, narrow aperture and the Light Craft Workshop Fader ND Mk II ND filter.
Granted, this is how they used to light a scene back in the film days.
It’s All About Your Lighting
When walking around the park, I looked for some of the most forested and darkest areas that were reminiscent of some of the spots in the Legend of Zelda series. When shooting it is important to not only try to do research into your subject to understand it, but also to be able to adapt to locations.
Here are a couple of photos with the details of how we shot them.
While the above image looks very simple, it wasn’t so simple to get it to look like this. It required lots of playing with the colors and saturation + luminance levels to make it look like Kodak Portra.
At the end of it all, it still seems as if the OMD did a damned good job. I was able to recover lots of detail from the blown out areas and the color depth was extremely workable.
More Image Samples
Here are some different looks and images.
So what do you think? How did the Olympus OMD EM-5 do on a photo shoot?
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