A funny thing happened on the way to the shoot. Apparently, you have to get a certificate of permission to do any sort of model shoot in the Necropolis. I was informed by the groundsman and after some discussion, I was eventually let off for this time only and allowed to continue as long as I didn’t have any recognisable writings on headstones or monuments in the shots. I actually wanted to take advantage of the view and backdrop so in the end it wasn’t a big deal but I have had a lot of trouble finding out exactly who to contact should I want to do a future shoot in the Necropolis so any hints appreciated.
Anyway, the afternoon was bright though hazy. The sun was shining down but veiled with a thin layer of cloud. I still needed to bring down the ambient exposure by using an ND4 and used ISO50, 1/250th, and around f/4 to f/5.6 depending on the exact flash output and balance against daylight.
I placed the flash against the sun to allow the ambient light to partially fill in the shadows. I also used a reflector on a stand and arm to bounce the flash onto the back of the model. I used the sunfire surface to add some warmth and to match the sun.
I used a Bowens Gemini 400 flash powered by a Travelpak and the small battery. This gave around 300 shots at about half to three-quarter power on average. I mounted an octobox with both diffusers (probably could have gotten away with just the outer panel). I tried to place the flash as close as I could to the model to get a soft light, though at the cost of less even illumination. A strip light could have been a better choice had I had one.
I shot with the 16-50mm/2.8 and a Cokin P filter holder. This combination does vignette at the wide end so I had to either zoom in a bit or crop in the post-production to get rid of the mechanical vignetting. To be perverse, I added in artificial vignetting to accentuate the tunnel effect.
After the flash had finally run out of juice, it was time to do some available light portraits. The lay of cloud had thickened up a bit and though still partially sunny, the light was soft. I retreated to the shade to get an even more diffuse light.
I didn’t need the ND4 so I could take off the Cokin filter holder. I switched to the Tamron 70-200mm/2.8 so I could back up a bit and zoom in from a farther perspective. I positioned the model a bit away from the background so I could blur it out. In post-production, I added a bit of contrast and highlight adjustment to make the model separate from the background even more.
It was very handy to have a helping hand with the equipment. Even though the Bowens kit is “portable”, it’s not something you want to have to lug with you for very far. Together with all the extra bits and bobs (octobox, reflector, stands etc.), any help is appreciated.
Thanks to Sarah for modelling and to Francis for assisting despite a bad leg.