Creating the Photograph: Clement Morin’s “Light Spirits”

Light Spirits

Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com.

Photographer Clement Morin is based Stockholm, Sweden and has been since 2011. He shoots editorial and commercial assignments but dedicates most of his time working as the photo editor for the Swedish photojournalist agency Kontinent. “I enjoy very much experimenting on my free time and since I discovered light paintings I got interested in creating original pictures in-camera–trying to do as much as possible in production stage rather than on the computer.”

His goal in the next winter is to develop this into a series with different scenarios that he wrote together with a friend who is helping him on this project.

The Concept

The basic idea behind this picture is that I wanted imaginary characters to be able to interact with the real world. So the option of adding them later on in photoshop was out of the question. The goal was to capture the light spirits on the set, to see the reflections of their glow in the snow and on the trees, as there would be if the characters had been in the forest for real. This was thought as some form of tribute to the tree spirits of Princess Mononoke from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki, and there was something magical in seeing them appear on the camera screen at the end of each shot!

The Gear

Light spirits diagram

Camera: Canon 5D II

Lens: Canon 24-70 /2.8

Flash for the stencil: Canon 600ex-rt

Soft box: Kaffebrus 45x45cm

Stencil: Cardboard and paper

Side flashes: Elinchrom Ranger Quadra with two umbrellas black outside / white inside

My two friends Victor Guerrero Corbi and Miguel Ramos Carretero

The Shoot

Light Spirits

The technical challenge was also more appealing by working in that way. It took about a dozen trials before we got the timing and the light positioning right. Each exposure lasting about 30 seconds and each shot requiring a couple of minutes for preparing the equipment and getting everything in position, it all came down to taking our time and finding the way to properly be in control of the different steps.

The most difficult part of the project was to find a material of the right thickness to cut the stencil so that as little light as possible would leak. Then the timing for every frame was also rather tight considering the many steps but this is also what made it so fun! Thankfully I had two assistants helping me moving the stencils so that I could trigger the different lights at the right moment.

The shutter time is 30 seconds and the process goes like this:

– Starting the shot in the dark

– Placing the soft box/stencil behind the tree, trigger it through a wireless remote

– Move it to create a second character and trigger the flash in the soft box again

– Hide the soft box and stencil

– Jump in the picture and trigger two umbrellas placed on each side of the trees.

The Post Production

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 15.12.05 (2)

The post processing consists mostly in cleaning some footprints in the snow and light leaking from the soft box and then fixing some shadows.

Before/After

Before

Before

After

After