How do you get a nice image when photographing with fluorescents?
Last week I was given the task of photographing TV2 News Presenter Lasse Sjørslev, and how pleased was I when it started to rain and snow just a few minutes before the shoot!
Knowing that Lasse would have to change clothes at some point, I went looking for a warm and dry location close to where we’d arranged to meet, and ended up lurking around the graffiti-covered walls of Nørreport Station. With the stench of piss and drugs filling my nostrils, I was confident that I had managed at least to tick off one of the requirements set to me by those who had hired me: make it look gritty.
The fluorescent lighting down there was certainly a challenge (as can be seen on the video), and there’s no better time to experiment than when you’ve got a tight deadline. So I quickly slapped a green gel on over my flash and changed the camera’s white balance to accommodate for the fluorescent bulbs overhead and off we went.
We soon discovered that leaving plastic bags and other light items lying around on a train platform was a bad idea. Thankfully my friend and assistant Luke was on hand to make a mad dash towards the tunnel before they could disappear forever.
After a few portraits inside we decided to take a risk outdoors and Lasse slipped in to something a little more comfortable. He returned wearing his running clothes and thankfully the rain and snow had stopped for now, so we headed over to Israels Plads – a newly-built square just a few hundred yards away.
The whole point of the photos was to illustrate that Lasse will be running this year’s Copenhagen Half Marathon; a race that promises to be one of the best in Northern Europe. So naturally I had to get a safe shot in the bag, which we achieved with Lasse running towards the camera over and over again. The reason it took so many attempts is because none of us could figure out what face he should be pulling: smiling; determined, neutral; crying, perhaps? I’m pretty sure we settled for neutral. Well, that’s what we got anyway.
The last thing I needed was a super-strong portrait; something that combined the urban backdrop of Copenhagen, sport, and some awesome creative lighting. Off came the gel from the flash and down I went on the floor, getting completely drenched in the process. Once again, Luke was standing camera right with an SB-800 mounted inside a Lastolite Ezybox Softbox to soften the light, which I triggered with the Nikon D800’s built-in commander mode. Hey, I know this all technical jargon to most of you, but for the photographers out there this info is Gold!
A nice coincidence occurred with the light and the rain that had fallen: a beautiful reflection on the tarmac. I made the most of this and made sure that I could see Lasse’s entire reflection and didn’t cut any of it out. This just proves that you can plan for every eventuality, but there’s always something that can jump out and surprise you. Thankfully this time it turned out to be something rather nice.
Check out the video below and, as always, let me know your thoughts in the comments box.
Thanks for reading…