Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Double Trouble

     I've had so much available time for the past weeks but my laziness struck me again.  Good thing I got so bored with nothingness that I finally got my butt out of bed to take some photography of my aesthetic.

    When I learned about using a snoot on flash, I had an idea and took trial shots to test it out if it works.  Unfortunately, I don't have those pics anymore.  But the idea remained in me.  Today, I got to execute these ideas and finally got to use my speedlight.

     My work place has a large make-shift oven about 20x30x30 feet.  It's the perfect place for my set-up.  As always, I'm alone doing this thing, so I need to find ways to get what I need.  While my camera is mounted on my newest tripod, I got my oldest tripod to mount my flash and serves as a focus guide.  But since I won't use my flash on a stand for this session, I mounted it back to my camera and started testing shots.

Epilogue 1
First test was to fix my lens's focus.  Using Samyang 85mm, I got it to focus directly on the tripod's head.  Posed behind it to see if I'll get myself in focus as well, and to check out how I should be posing later on.  The tripod will be taken off so it'll be harder to get myself on the spot.

Epilogue 2
Bouncing off the ceiling.  I was wondering about this way of using flash since it sounds more like an overhead lighting.  And yes, it does look like it.  It accentuated my already dark circles.  BUT I also got interested on how the shadows play.  With this lighting, I can see more of my face's shape.  Cheeks and temple tucked as it should, making a diamond shape.

Epilogue 3
Light bounced behind the camera.  I was really surprised how effective this technique was.  No wonder it's commonly spoken of.  It's got the whole package.  I was softly illuminated.  I had some shapes and shadows on my face (though not as strong as the above image).  Even the background has some character in it.  And I got catchlights!  I'm sold!

     I realized though, that I made a mistake on my focusing spot's distance.  The shots are too tight, I won't be able to frame enough of my bodies ("bodies?"  Just keep reading).  So I had to move the tripod a couple of steps backward.  Took another couple of tests shot, and marked the spot where the tripod was.  It's time to cross my fingers and hope for magic.

Epilogue 4
Final test shot.  So farther from the flash means softer light and even softer shadows.  I know I watched video tutorials talking about this effects with flash and stuff.  I also read some articles and books that talks about this.  But none of them registered in my brain until now.  As my dad always told me:  Experience is the best teacher.

     The objective was to bounce the light on my palm which reflects it to my face.  With the use of a snoot, I can focus all the light towards my palm.  I simply tore a carton box and wrapped it around my speedlight.  I'll be holding the light source with one hand, reflect it with the other.  Sounds simple enough, yes?

     The hard part really is coming up with poses.  The flash should be hid from the frame.  It's a good thing there was a challenge in a photography forum (CameraLabs "On Assignment" Novemeber), which gave me the idea of my poses and storyline:  Double Trouble.

     So, okay.  To bring them all together, I have to hold and operate a speedlight with one hand, bounce the light to my other hand and towards my face, and do twice of that with different poses, all in one frame!  So again, sounds simple enough, yes?

Double Trouble -- Reflection
My first pose was to mimic the "mirror image" effect but also subtly defect from mirroring the first half (rear/right).  So far, this was a bit easy.  I got lucky with the alignment of my bodies.  Although, it wasn't intended to look like we're two individuals posing together, the merging points are subtle perfectly to my liking.

Double Trouble -- Curiosity
Okay so I tried to sway from the "mirror image" poses 'cause it was getting old.  The problem was my hands and arms are stuck to this figure.  It was too tough for me to switch hands with the speedlight.  So I settled with just changing angles and emotions.  I think it worked.  In this image, I just got lucky (again) with the alignment, where the hand of the front guy spanned the arm of the other (it was never planned that way).

Double Trouble -- Missed Chance
I knew the back-to-back pose is just too cheesy even for me.  I surely won't take that pose seriously.  But I needed an alternative.  So I tried just one in front of the other.  The problem was my second body's pose (left one).  My mind went blank and auto imitate the first pose... which is worse than back-to-back and also looks cheap.  I hurriedly changed angle but it was too late for me to realize I was out of the frame.  I was too upset to do it again.  Pity, this would have been my favorite.

     In the middle of the shoot, the snoot fell off right after the first pose.  I only had half a second to panic, then think fast what to do.  I just shrugged my shoulders and did the second pose with the flash just arm's length from me.  I was really happy with the result it gave me.  Another happy accident!  And an addition to my arsenal of creative works.

Double Trouble -- Ghost in Action
This was the very first picture of the happy accident.  By the time I saw the ghost, I got really excited and analyzed how to improve this.  I see that the second flash was too strong that it blew out most of the first body's image. 

Double Trouble -- Reflecting
So the key was to tone down the flash's power (and remove the snoot) while switching bodies.  That part wasn't too tough but it took me a while to find how much I should tone down... by then, I totally forgot about the poses.

     I did more of these ghost shots, trying to set the flash's intensity different on each shot.  But I got tired of it.  I realized I'm getting hooked while I'm still not satisfied with my Double Trouble pictures.

     This time, I attempted just one particular frame.  It looks, seems, and sounds, quite simple.  But getting the perfect placement of every part of my body on both poses, is quite harder than I thought.  Arms not stretched far enough, arms not pushed far enough, arms not bent to my liking, the light bounced to another opaque thing besides my face, my head was in a weird position, ect ect ect.  Shot after shot, I see lots of things that just makes me barf.  But I got the shot.  It took a lot out of me, but I got it.  The deed is done.

Double Trouble -- Target Out of Range
This could have been my choice despite the flash included in frame.  But I was still figuring out this pose and didn't think it's my hands that are placed in focus, rather than my second body's face.  But it was the step to finding my final pose for the day.

Double Trouble -- Mission Accomplished
I didn't realize how hard it was to get precise with this pose.  It took me a lot of small changes per frame.  But I'm proud of this picture.  It wasn't an accident, everything was just right.

     Still having a bit of the photography buzz left in me, I went back to taking simple self-portraits with the speedlight mounted back on camera, and bouncing light on walls.  After some minutes, I felt like I got nothing left to do.  But previewing my last couple of shots on the camera's LCD, I realized I looked like I was taking pictures for a HighSchool ID.  Or a passport picture.  Or NBI.  Or any of those bland and ugly mugshots.  Eeek!

     So to conclude the photography session, the story of these photographs, and today's blog, here's my very last shot of the day.

The Scream


  1. WOAH!!! Clap clap clap!!! This is genius!!! Hahahaha! Ang galing galing! I am really like Wow! Jackson job well than! So pleased and yes indeed mission accomplished in that picture,i am not good critic in Photography but I can see a perfection in every angle in that picture... The first picture the shadow is so handsome :))... Woah! Ikaw na Jackson... Those are a kind... All pictures are great! A masterpiece! My mind is rattling in how to describe how nice is it. So hard work! Love it!

  2. Woah is right! I'm impressed! Love the contrast shots. I admire your dedication.