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Sunday, May 16, 2010

••◊ howaaaaaahhhhhh...My pinky will now crush you.

I spent yesterday at Kwon's Black Belt Academy down in Chula Vista helping my friend photograph students and the masters (instructors are called "masters"). Grand Master Kwon was in attendance at a belt promotion ceremony for his Pilsung students (Korean martial arts). Photographs for the students went pretty quick. We basically set one lighting setup and ran 'em through. Then it was time for the boys to play.

We setup a white seamless and an experimental green screen setup in the dojo. Larry Messier, who runs the dojo up north in Temecula, wanted some promo photos. You can see Carlos posing for Clarence in the picture below. I didn't really start shooting until Carlos was finished and Dan, the local master, started posing for us. Below are pictures on the white seamless starting with Dan, then Larry, then the two sparring for us - relax, they did it WWE style - all fake for the cameras. However, they still can crush you with their pinkies! Now if only I could get you to read this out of sync with the voice in your head so you could have the full Asian martial arts entertainment experience.

Clarence wanted to play around with the green screen, so we set one up at the opposite end of the room. Mainly this was an experiment to see if something like this could even work. In my opinion, it only half worked. I set the green to be about a stop down from a normal exposure, partially to try and control spill, partly because I wanted a deep saturated green. We didn't have the luxury of L-reflectors or flagged soft boxes to light the background evenly, so pulling the key took a lot more work in post than it was probably worth. Still, if you don't do these things you'll never learn.

The screen is made up of two sheets. The one on the floor is taped to the one rear upright screen. It was hard to control the green spill from the floor. Basically I had to selectively desaturate parts of their ankle and heal/toe area. Also, for action shots, the screen wasn't large enough. We kept having to shift Dan and Larry in vary directions in order to fit their movement within that sheet. The 1/200th sync speed was a little too slow to catch the action more often than not. I wish I had two more 580exII's so I could just use those TTL with high speed sync. Of course, then I would likely be light limited since we wanted to shoot these things at f/8 or smaller for longer depth of field (have to kinda still predict focus). The spill from the back wall sometimes creep-ed into their clothing, but we were depth limited by the floor sheet; so you do the best you can. Below is a quick and dirty compositing result.

After playing with the green screen I still think it's best to just get it right in the camera, at least for me. I not really a post processing person. I'd rather be shooting rather than sitting in front of Photoshop, but that's just me. Lucky for me, Larry is the Photoshop wiz this go around.

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