Monday, February 8, 2010

52 Variations - Variation Six


My son, like so many children is a huge Star Wars fan. Its not the Star Wars of my youth, but fun just the same. So with that interest my son asked that I make him look like a Jedi in this week's shot. I said, "sure, why not" he has a couple toy Lightsabers, how hard could it be. Boy I can be dense sometimes.

I'll get to the how we did it bit a little later. Below is what we ended up with. Gustavo holding a Lightsaber while wearing his hooded Jedi robe.

52 Variations - Variation Six - Jedi

Not too bad in the end, there are a lot of things I would change later but I think it gets the general theme of Jedi with a Lightsaber across to the view.

However, as you would expect, the Lightsaber turned out to be a huge issue. It ends up that the toy Lightsabers do not generate any where near the amount of light needed. So I looked at taking the toy apart so I could attach a speedlight to the bottom of the colored tube. I knew that would be enough light. The problem was that my son still wanted his toy and I would have destroyed it to do what I want. I wanted my son to be happy and thus could not destroy the toy, what to do...what to do....

I was stumped. At one point I thought the shoot was scrapped and I would need to find another idea for this week. Of course, I had no other ideas for which I was prepared. I thought at one point I would not meet my goal for a shot this week.

Staring at the 430 EX sitting on my desk an idea suddenly came to me. I had a sheet of 1/2 green gel somewhere. I could wrap the end of the 430 EX and effectively turn it into a Lightsaber. So I found the gel and wrapped the 430 EX creating a tube on top of the strobe. It looked ok, but when held by my son's face it over-exposed his skin resulting in an unusable shot. Also, the tube of the Lightsaber was very transparent, not giving it the feel of solid light. More road blocks, what to do...what to do?

Well, my 9 year-old found the solution. What a creative child.

Gustavo thinks gaffers tap is the greatest thing ever. For those of you that don't use gaffers tape I suggest getting some. Think of it as duct tape that is easy to remove, and it was what I used to attach the gel to the flash and create a cap for the end of the gel tube. Gustavo noticed that the light at the top of our home made Lightsaber was stronger than in the main part of the tube. His suggestion, use more gaffers tape. Brilliant!!!!

Placing gaffers tape along the back and part of the side of the tube there was the dual effect of creating a reflector and gobo for the light. The tube took on a more solid appearance while keeping some the strongest light off my son's face. What a bright kid, no pun intended. :-) In the end we had a 430 EX (aka: Lightsaber) with a 1/2 green gel at 1/64th power as our main light

Once this problem was solved I just had to setup the fill light. A reflector would not work as out Lightsaber did not send off enough light to reflect. We ended up using a 580 EXII at 1/32nd power just a tad to camera right with a 1/2 green gel and a 1/8 grid to fill in the face. Worked just fine and kept the look of the glow from the Lightsaber going.

Below is a quick setup shot. Notice the speedlight based Lightsaber in my son's hand. Yes, that is a radio trigger hanging from the speedlight. And yes, he is wearing a sweatshirt as his Jedi robe. Its the best thing I could think of. :-)

52 Variations - Variation Six - Jedi Setup

So what does everyone think? Most importantly, and as always, did we achieve the goal, does he look like a Jedi?


As always go to the Flickr set for all project pictures by Clicking Here. You can also find a full explanation of the project along with an index of the shots by Clicking Here.