Black Balloons project

Posted on Sunday, April 1st, 2012 at 12:27 pm

It is spring again.  We have an early one, almost a month and a half early this year.  My outdoor shooting should start again.

While browsing some casting calls, my attention caught on a black balloons project.  Not that many details were attached to it which means there is room for some ideas to be thrown in there.  Rather than shooting in studio, I suggested shooting on the street.  The challenge would be to find a place, not too populated as we decided to do it in the St-Patrick weekend…

We headed to the Old Montreal.  I had done a shoot last year and if you get there early enough, there are no cars on the street.  Unfortunately, not that weekend…  We had to confine ourselves to an alternate location.  Lucky enough, I knew a few that were far enough from the parade location.

We were under a very limited schedule.  Everyone had other things scheduled in the afternoon and by noon the sun was high in the cloudless sky, casting heavy shadows all over the place.  Because of this, I needed to either keep the scene in the shades or in heavy light to eliminate the large light dynamic range.  We shot for about 3 hours in 3 different locations.  My favorite was the final location.  I was driving around, looking for Smith Street (the neighbourhood changed a lot, making it really difficult to find).  I scouted the place by myself rather than bringing Vaitea and Marie-Claude with me because I had a good idea of what could be there.  After counting too many homeless people sleeping, I turned around and searched for another location.  This was a great move.  I parked near a big blue garage door that would be perfect for that last outfit Vaitea had.  The way the sun was oriented was also creating some nice shadows on the clean brick walls on one side of the street.

Overall, I am happy with the results.  Vaitea was incredible in front of the camera and Marie-Claude was great with her makeup.  It is not easy to work on someone’s makeup when sitting in a truck.  The wind made the shooting conditions a bit difficult and caused me some grief, especially when I saw my Westcott Apollo 28 turning into a sail, throwing my very heavy boom, Alien Bee, and Vagabond II to the ground.  Lucky for me, it landed on the rear end of the boom arm and rolled over the Apollo.  The strobe survived but the softbox was in desperate need of TLC…

At 1st, the shoot could have been a disaster.  It could have been called the Black Cloud project.  We were missing 2 people because we could not find each other’s, the balloons were no longer floating in the air, Old Montreal streets filled up early, someone parked his car right in the spot we found as plan B, the ground was so soft Vaitea’s heals were sinking in, the strobe fell down, the softbox turned into a banana shape, the location was squatted, the sun was turning everyone blind.  These conditions either break your moral, or push you further.  There was no way we were going through all of this and quit; I kept focused, looked around, thought of plans C, D, E and F and pushed them until I would get the image that would make us 3 happy.  I have spent the past 3 months indoor, in studio, where light is consistent, wind is inexistent, cars are not driving towards your back.  It can be repetitive as we sometimes fall into routines where we setup our lights the same way, over and over again, because it works well with that Photoshop preset we made.  Outdoor, on location, your light will always be different, minutes after minutes, forcing you to think quickly.  It brings you into a different gear.  Results are less predictable as you might have some ideas on your way to the location and all the sudden you have to go back to the drawing board.  I am happy to have responded to the Black Balloons project.

One Response

  1. Vincent says:

    Awesome as usual. Next time, bring your human light stand to avoid wind problems!

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