The Ball O Light - Gary Fong In The Steampunk Era
The current line of research revolves around a steampunk event that will be run in May. I've decided to run a portrait set-up and have been assembling the equipment and the lighting. The get-up is no problem - I've been wearing steampunk outfits for the last twenty years at various events and it has stopped being costume long ago - it is clothing now, and old clothing at that...
The camera is the new Moriarty Portrait camera - supplied innocently by Justin Moriarty and the Fujifilm company. Not that they knew it at the time, mind, but I'm sure they will be charmed by the results in the end. Hey, any company that deliberately gives me a sepia setting in the menu of their digital camera ( the X-E2) must expect me to grab the idea and run with it. If they will kindly put a daguerreotype, ambrotype, and tintype setting in as well I will send them a bouquet of chrysanthemums.
Camera sorted, I have turned to lighting. As tempting as it is to devise a lighting system that incorporates a miniature steam engine ( Saito Mfg.. from Japan), a motorcycle generator, and antique light fittings, the work and oily mess involved would make photography impossible. So I have chickened out and opted for electronic flash.
The Elinchrom Quadra system would do it on a professional basis - two light stands, two heads, battery controller, Skyport trigger and such, but I don't own one and I don't want to borrow one of the Rental Department's kits. The idea of steampunk is you think it up and make it yourself.
I do own some Nikon SB 700 speed lights so I turned to one of them and the Gary Fong collapsible Lightsphere. In the top the sphere I dropped one of the silver diffusers - up until now I have never been able to make this chrome accessory do anything. Now it is brilliant. It fires the light out into a flat annular pattern while still allowing some of it to exit the top of the Fong going toward the ceiling.
The result is absolutely even lighting and some degree of reverse fill in the shadows to the back of the portrait subject. No hot spot on the frontal planes of the face and no burn-out on bald heads. ( I have found my own pate useful for test purposes...)
I've got the light on a standard light stand and have found that the legs of it can stand within the compass of my tripod legs - thus reducing the chances for people stumbling over them in the dark of a ballroom. I am thinking of decorating the legs of the tripod to further warn off the punters.
Next experiment will be to reduce the output from the Fong and do a hand-held SB 700 with a snoot or grip for spot lighting. Steam on!