The Haircut: Location Specifics and Motivated Lighting
So we are here at the Historic Flight Foundation, and we are about to start setting up to shoot, but before we do that, I want to take you through a little bit of the process that happened when we first arrived. So the first thing that we saw when we came in was we had to position the planes, and we have two different setups that we're doing today. We are doing a setup that involves one plane, which we are doing first, and we have a setup that involves two planes that we are doing second. But in order to, kind of, get ourselves ahead of the game, we, actually, setup the two plane shot with the orientation of the planes to begin with 'cause they had to be brought out, kind of, taxied along, and positioned in place. And what we had to do while that was happening was I had to, kind of, help direct because I was looking through my camera with the lens that I was planning to use because the choice of your lens in a shot like this does, actually, make a difference on the composition. How far...
things are away from the camera changes based on the focal length, so a more wide, a wide-angle lens is gonna make something in the background seem further away, and a longer lens is going to make something seem closer. Again, like the theater shoot, I'm using a relatively medium length, focal length lens. I'm using a 90, which is a little bit closer to a 70 mil lens, or if you're on a full-frame, something like an 85 is probably gonna be a very similar look and feel. And the reason I did that for this first shot is because it gives me a better sense of compression to the background, and I didn't necessarily like the smaller plane that I got from the 55 mil lens. So what I ended up doing was using a and making the background seem a little bit larger, the plane seem a little bit larger. And another great benefit of it is, it's gonna make the background a little bit more out of focus, and it allows me to go down to a 2a in this particular instance, again, helping with that depth of field. The weather today is a little bit hazy, we were anticipating a very sunny day. We, kind of, have something that's relatively close to sunny, and we came out, and I wanted to check with the direction of the light. Again, this helps with how we position the planes, and so, what I use for that is an app called Sun Seeker, and it allows me to do, like, an augmented view of the scene, and so I could hold it up and I can, actually, plan to see where the light is going to be throughout the day. And for us, it's going to be, kind of, arcing in the sky over on this side, so it's, kind of like, our right side and a little bit behind version of this shot, which is what we're doing first. And then by the time we get to the secondary shot, it'll almost be frontal. And that was just, kind of, we needed to plan where things were gonna go. We're also working in a relatively confined space, we are shooting at the end of an active runway, and so, we have to be, kind of, careful since we are in that space that we are very safe and precautious, and we are taking all the necessary precautions to make sure that, you know, everything is good. So for this, with that weather, I knew coming into it that we were gonna have a little bit of a sunny day. So with the inspiration image, it's a very cloudy day, so even though here in Seattle, we also are likely to have that kind of weather, today is not one of those days, today we have a sunny day. But what we're gonna do is turn it in to something like a cloudy day by using some scrims and overpowering daylight, so we are still gonna try to create that effect based on the tools that we have, and I think this is an important thing to remember, we are on a sunny day, but it doesn't necessarily have to look that day if you can modify it. And so my approach for a day like today is to, kind of, work around the sun, and how do I manipulate the thing I cannot control? And that is the sun, and so that's, kind of, my approach to motivating the light of the scene. The sun is coming from here, how do we diffuse it on the subjects? How do we soften it up, how do we make it look like a cloudy day? And for that we're gonna be using the scrims and some lights to overpower daylight. We're gonna be keeping the direction relatively similar to that light overall. I don't want to compete with the daylight, I want to create a slightly more modified version of, an augmented version of reality. This is because, if I, let's say, put a light way over on the left hand side when the sun is to the right, it looks artificial. And that's not necessarily a bad thing every time, but in this particular case, we're trying to make something that looks natural, and so we don't want to fight with the light that's already there. Okay so, what we're gonna do is just revisit this list that you saw me talk about last time, which is what I do when I approach the scene. And so, obviously, I come in, I check the practicals, I check the environmentals. what does the space look like, what can I do, what is it going to look like over the course of the day? How can I modify what's there, what can be changed, what can't be? And so that's usually the first thing. Then I get out a camera, and I start looking at the frame, and in this particular case, I was using a 90 millimeter lens, an f2.8. That's a medium format, so I want a full-frame, it's about a 70, 72 millimeter. I would probably say, if I were shooting this on a full-frame, I'd go 85. 85 would give me almost the same, kind of, look and feel to the image. It would, actually, also give me an extra bit of f-stop underneath that, so I could open it up to as much of, like, maybe even a 1.2, if I were using an f1.2. So that's probably what I would use to translate that shot on a full-frame. I'm gonna adjust color temperature, figure out what I want this day to look like. On a regular cloudy day, it's, kind of, a blueish gray. So I was probably looking to use a slightly cooler color temperature. And then I start looking at contrast, color and tonal contrast. How is my subject framed in the shot? How is the shadows on the face looking? Is it too bright, too dark? What does the scene look like, are there any colors that are jumping out, should there be? So forth and so on. So before we, actually, start talking about setting anything up in terms of gear, maybe we'll see if anyone has some questions about this particular step.
Yeah, we did have a question about, in case it's windy or rainy when shooting on location, do you have any kind of protection to protect the subject? Like, how do you, especially in Seattle 'cause it does, it's summer now, but yeah.
So when it's windy, there's not really a whole lot you could do. It depends how windy it is, I wouldn't really use huge scrims on a really windy day, it's bad advice. There was a slight breeze with a few little, like, slightly more than soft gusts through the day, and it makes me real nervous when I'm outside, when I'm shooting with this stuff. And it's heavily anchored down with sandbags, but even still, it becomes a sail with a long enough, a strong enough wind. I've worked with ones that were double the size, that were, you know, 12 by 12's and stuff like that, and I've been with them as they catch wind, and you can't do anything, you can't catch it, you just have to get out of the way, and you hope that, you know, fortunately no one was around 'cause we don't set it up with talent near it, and it was in the middle of a big open field, but, I mean, it just catches wind and it goes. So, one of the things that's especially helpful is to use it at much more of a flat angle if you can. That's gonna be less susceptible to catching wind, it's the, when you start getting it like this or this is when it catches, and so that's just, otherwise it just, kind of, flows passed it. And so that's really helpful when you're using scrims. As far as rain, I mean, I wouldn't be outside with all the gear in the rain, so I would be inside hopefully before that happens. We've been on sets, recently, where there was a rain issue and it's just, you're waiting until the last minute, and then everyone grabs stuff and runs in when you can. So, you know, you can obviously protect people with an umbrella, but you can't really protect the gear. So, I mean, you can sometimes throw tarps and stuff over it, but generally, man you just wanna, you wanna get that stuff out of the weather conditions before you can. So, with call sheets and everything else, if I'm shooting outside, I am constantly, constantly, constantly checking weather. It's always a huge consideration for me, and you always want to be safe with that if you can, and avoid problems for yourself. So, you know, I've seen producers and stuff on call sheets, they put the weather, the weather for tomorrow is gonna look like this. Know that if you are expecting weather at 7:00 p.m., you should probably try to be wrapped by six or whatever the case may be. Or hey it's gonna rain in the afternoon, great, for the afternoon shots, we're gonna make sure we're inside, we're doing the inside stuff. So you can plan your day around what the weather is supposed to be like. It'll make your life a lot easier versus being, like, aww man, I needed to get this shot at this particular time, and I don't have a backup, and then what? So you always gotta prepare for these different things. Good?
Yeah, let's do one more.
Could you talk about the model release, and also how you bring your team together, the makeup artists, hairdressers, assistants, especially if they haven't worked together before. And then what social media or classifieds do you, like, how do you find those people, I guess?
You said, the model release?
So, that will depend upon the usage of the images. If it is just for my personal use, and I'm not ever gonna be using it in any commercial capacity, you can sometimes get away with, kind of, a good faith model release, but when you start using it for commercial purposes, you can run into some issues. So in the instance of stuff like this because it's going out to everyone, I mean, you have to, you know, dot your i's and cross your t's to make sure your releases are covered. It's always helpful if you can get it. The downside, especially in a place like New York is, you're really not gonna get people to work for free, usually, to sign a release, like where I am at least, and so, we have to either pay people or, you know, that's usually the solution is you pay someone to use it for full release stuff, so that's definitely a consideration. It depends upon where the images are going and what they're being used for. As far as getting everyone on the same page, mood boards are how I do it. I've also... There's a makeup artist I worked with awhile ago, it was one of my favorite things that any crew member's ever done in terms of preparation, but she, actually, printed out pages and pages of mood images. Things that she had done, directions that she wanted to go, even just pieces of, like, little attachments and stuff that she had, and it was all just categorized on these pieces of paper that was kept in a plastic sleeve on a binder, and brings it in for the whole crew, and sets it down and so that everyone can get on the same page visually. So I also like that, you could do that with mood images, print out your Pinterest board, put it in some sleeves, leave it on the table, everyone can look through it, get constant reminders and refreshers about what's happening. For this particular shoot, we had drawings of the, we had the sketches printed out that we could show people, this is what we're going for, this is what this needs to look like. That was very helpful. It's all about communication. People can't come into this kind of stuff blind, they have to have a really good idea about what they're doing. So you see the mood images beforehand, you talk them through it, you explain to them what the image needs to look like. It's just really about having that conversation way ahead of time, and making the subjects aware of what this all needs to look like. And then what was it, social media?
Yeah, the second part of that question was, sort of, like, how do you work regularly with the same makeup artists and stylist, or how do you get people, when everybody just walks in, nobody knows each other, how do you get, 'cause you're gonna be working and you need it to work smooth, how do you get 'em together?
I do like to try to reuse the same team members if I find people that I like and stick with them. A, they know how I work, I know that they're dependable. I know that they can execute whatever the goal is pretty well. Sometimes they're not available, so it's helpful to have a couple of backups. But yeah, no, I will regularly keep the same people for that reason, once I test someone out, find someone I like, I just use them over and over again. Same with assistants, I like to use the same assistants over and over again because the more you use them, the quicker they're going to be for you because they know how you work, and where things are, and stuff like that. You regularly test new people, but yeah, yep same people if you can.