GPP Group Shot = Pressure That Can Make Diamonds
On the next to the last day of Gulf Photo Plus I was informed by GPP organizer, Mohamed Somji, that I had the “privilege” of shooting the group shot of all the GPP staff and photographers. I would be given 15 minutes to set up and execute the shot with 25 to 40 people.I have done countless group shots in my young career but never one that had folks like Joe McNally, Drew Gardner, David Hobby, Chase Jarvis, David Nightingale, and on and on and on. No pressure.
Last year David Hobby shot the group photo. He did it available light and had the photo posted on the web in 30 minutes. He was smart. David kept it simple. I however had could not leave “well enough” alone. I wanted to make a picture that was a tribute to some of the photographers in the photo and I wanted to keep with the OneLight theme so I decided I would get everyone in the auditorium and light them individually with one light and then comp them together in post. I have “painted with strobes” a few times in my life but never on this scale. It isn’t the most technically brilliant photograph I’ve ever made in my life but I had fun doing it. Everyone in the room had fun bustin’ my chops for taking this on. Hobby had a GRAND time playing with his wizard in his pocket while I was setting this up too.
How I did it = Pretty simple
• I set my camera up on a tripod so that each shot would align in the final image to be created.
• I had my studio manager, Erik, walk around the room with a Nikon SB-25 mounted on a tripod. On the SB I placed a Lightsphere that I have painted black. I call it my Darksphere. I then bunjee’d a 20º grid on the front of that. I like to have my grids placed off of the flash tube to get a cleaner circle of light.
• I exposed somewhere around 5.6 at 250th of a second to kill the ambient light in the room. I just needed the light on each person. There are 29 people in the final shot and I used 28 frames to capture them all. Chase and his wife, Kate, were lit together for one shot.
• I tried a quick multiple exposure shot on the back of the D3 to see if my idea was going to work. In this you can see Erik holding the light on the stick.
This is what each individual shot looked like…
This is what the group shot looks like without the auditorium showing through…
Here is the auditorium. I would use this image to mask parts of the ambient back into the group shot.
Once the people were together I could then bring in the image above and again, using layer masking, I painted in just enough of the ambient light to mix in with the lit shots. The final shot was 34 layers tall. 28 layers of people and 6 layers of ambient light and details like the the strobe painting on the back wall panels. Here it is again…
So…To Joe McNally – I know you eat 30 Speedlights for breakfast every morning so excuse me while I meagerly try to pull it off with one.
To David Hobby – My light rig for this shot not only has a bunjee cord on it, but it has a LightSphere that I spray painted black to keep with the DIY / Modify philosophy you preach so well.
To David Nightingale – 30+ exposures to make one final image! How do you do it so well? You can see how much of a hack I am.
To Drew Gardner – If only I had a water buffalo and 300 gallons of strawberry jam then you too would have a tribute here. Maybe next year I’ll shoot it on a Phase One. Oh wait! I don’t have to shoot it next year! Some other light monkey will have to do it!
To Chase Jarvis – You talk about pushing yourself. Well… I pushed myself on this one!
I could have done this or that or the other to make this shot better but I had no time to really think it through. It was a good exercise for me though. I’m glad I did it this way.
I have one more Dubai post to make this week and then we are back to regularly scheduled blogramming.