Last Sunday was the 16th Grande Séance organized by Studio4Fun. I think I explained enough what that is about in previous posts (Life is like a box of chocolate, Behind the scenes, models and toilets and Thanks you for Doing this). You would thing after 15 editions of an event, everything would become business as usual; follow the cookbook and everything will be fine and dandy. Well, yes, up to the 15th edition. For the 16th, the Grande Séance hit the road and changed location. I believe it is a good thing.
For a long time, all the GS were held in the RCA building where Studio4Fun launched their 1st studio. For the GS, they would rent multiple vacant rooms, scattered all over the enormous building and setup studio equipment in them. This caused a lot of walking around for everyone and made the setup and tear-downs of the studios a long and exhaustive process. This time, the GS was hosted in a school gymnasium. Everyone under the same ceiling, no getting lost in a building. No major issues occurred (other than a breaker that blew forcing a few setups to run on a fuel powered generator and managing different flash trigger systems because we ran out of channels) which proved that the GS is a mature event ready to be exported. For those of you who thought Montreal was too far for you to attend a GS, keep an eye open; it might be heading toward you some time.
So, transitioning from beautiful gritty bright studios with huge windows to… a green gymnasium with no natural light. Wow. Who knew there was that much ugly institutional green paint available in the province of Quebec. If you don’t know what I am talking about, they used the same green for hospital scrubs (well, the ones that are green anyway). With fluorescent lighting and a beige floor, you can say hello to mess up white balances. But that’s fine; after all, there is enough flash power in there to overpower ambient light. I was volunteering for the event. My role, along with Beethoven, Kevin and the reps from Lozeau, was once again to make sure one of the 4 zones was functioning right. We had to supervise the activities, iron out the trigger issues the participants might be experiencing, ensure proper rotations were made between photographers and models and push the photographers and model to step forward and meet people. I like that last part.
“If you build it, he will come”
Whenever I would see a model standing by herself, I would talk to her and ask her to shoot a few images. I say “her” because all the guys (only 4 or 5) were already in very high demands. Being a volunteer means I don’t use the light setups; I reserve those for the participants. When you step aside like that, you bring a little bit of attention from the other participants on what you do and it is good. Not everyone would consider shooting available light when you have these entire studio lights next to you but then they see you doing it, they approach (or you signal them to come over) and they give it a try.
“I don’t like the green wall”
Green in black and white is gray. What’s wrong with gray?
This time it was a little bit more challenging. We were normally in light flooded studios and now encased between 4 light-tight walls. ISO had to be bumped up to a max to be able to shoot fast enough to minimize camera shake. I would have use a monopod normally in such situation but walking around all day with a stick would not have been practical. I accepted the fact the images would not be tack sharp and dealt with that. I shoot pretty much all day on the same settings; ISO6400, 1/250th, f4 to f7.1 depending if there was a light source nearby or the model’s clothing colors. This made post processing a breeze as I was going for a full black and white series. Once I had one image done in Lightroom, the same settings were applied to the rest of the photos. The noise reduction was minimal since I did not want to cause a bigger loss of sharpness than what a high ISO introduces in an image and I knew my light distribution was alright so noise banding should not be apparent.
Yeah… so the green walls were ugly and nowhere near the background and light source qualities the large glass block wall the RCA building have to offer but using that as an excuse not to shoot would have been too easy. I often quote Homer Simpson by saying “Trying is the 1st step toward failure”. Isn’t it how you learn?
Oh, thanks again Hai Au for what you do.