The Humbrella - The Mary Poppins Of Light Shapers
1. The studio had far better a backdrop than I could have set up. I should have sussed it out beforehand and I could have saved carrying the kit.
2. Several speedlights set to different powers and under control of the CLS system on a Nikon are capable of dramatic light ratios. 18 dancers are too many faces to try this on. Down came two of the lights and one SB 700 shot into an umbrella...and the even light got all 18.
3. The TTL system works perfectly all the time except when it doesn't. Then the M system works all the time.
Moving on to Wednesday night and the 15 Japanese Geisha dancers in their studio...I discovered that their place has no adequate backdrop. Fortunately I had not unpacked the car from the night before.
1. A standard backdrop stand set doesn't stretch to 15 people, even if they are Japanese and you can stack them like cordwood. If you gaffer tape the legs of the backdrop stand to the studio floor you can stretch the muslin drape sideways...makes 6 metres...and if you use welding clamps to attach it to the uprights it will work. The center section needs propping up with a pole and there will be wrinkles but these can be overcome by...
2. Lighting soft. Again the umbrella with two SB700's firing into it for extra power. Spectacular makeup jobs and colourful costumes lend themselves to pure illustrative light and this is what worked.
Note that the common factor in these two nights is the humble umbrella. In my case it was a small Elinchrom packed as an afterthought, but in future I am going to deliberately take the big Redwing I own. Bigger really is better.
Bigger is also available here in the shop. Promaster, Profoto, Elinchrom, all make bigger brollies. There are cheap and cheerful Promaster light stands and umbrella adapters that fit together perfectly and take up little room in the field pack. I think that they will be the better answer for a lot of out-of-studio experiences in the future.
Also please remember to pack gaffer tape and welding clamps.