This is the Blog of Swiss Photographer Nicolas Henri

More from the underground (+ video footage!)

A little while back I posted about the promo shoot I did for czech guitar hero Milan Capak. In the meantime we got around to finish post production on the images AND assemble a little behind the scenes video! This also marks the first official NICOLAS HENRI > On Location, a series of making of videos I will be posting from now on. I hope you’ll find them inspiring…

But let’s get back to business first. The briefing of the TC Records Ltd. management was to create an industrial and dark look for Milan. After the creative meetings we agreed on the idea of an iconic fighter, who lives underground and only comes out to play, an enigmatic character if you will. The styling dept. created a sort of uniform all wrapped up with straps of cloth like a mummy. As you’ll see in the video we the washed him down with baby powder to create a dusty and moldy look as if he’d been living down there for ages…

Which brings me the location: An abandoned and drained water cistern, built a century ago. Scouting the place a week before the shoot was a blast. It must be the coolest place I ever shot in. You walk down a small metal staircase into the heart of darkness… the echoes from your steps suggest a large space… until you switch on the light (no, there’s no fluorescents down there or anything - we brought a construction light, 50m extension cord to connect above ground) and this massive space unfolds. Columns and arches, never ending either way you look. Rain water from above runs down the walls, the air humid and freezing cold (in May!).

This is a nice example of what location scouting can do for you. I have made it a habit to scout the places I’m supposed to work in. It’s the first step of the “No Worries - Package”. Obviously you realize it will be dark and you’ll need lights, when your client tells you about a place like that. But when I stood there in the heart of darkness, experienced the vast space, I realized that this was going to be tough to light. In addition to my Elinchrom Ranger, I rented another two Elinchrom 1200 (Ws) RX heads, got extras extension cords, took sample shots at the scout (at ISO 3200!) and used the time before the shoot to come up with a lighting concept - actually a few concepts in case things didn’t work out as planned.

More after the jump!

Posted by nicolas_henri on September 2nd, 2008 :: Filed under Artist Technique, Lighting, Making Of, On Location, Photography, Photogs at work!, Uncategorized, Underground
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Shooting Underground

Yesterday we went out to shoot promo material for Milan Zappack, a musician represented by Favoured Nations Entertainment. The location was an abandoned facility of the town’s water supply built around 1900. The place is drained now and we shot in the main reservoir. Really cool place, a few thousand square feet, pitch black with echoes and everything… Below is a first shot, no processing done on it:

I lit the background with Elinchrom 1200 RX heads with wide angle reflectors on either side of the place. Full power on both of them. Milan was lit with a Ranger Speed AS unit and two heads. Quadra softbox high on camera right and a backlight behind the subject camera left. I used a bunch of Skyports to trigger the lights and I really got those working at their limit. With all the Stone (and possibly metal built within) I couldn’t get every head to trigger every time from certain positions. I wonder whether Pocket Wizards would have done better. Most of the time it as enough to move myself a few inches or just try a second time.

I could have definately used more light though. The place is vast and the walls suprisingly non-reflective. Plus all of the those columns really swallow up the light. I was a little hesitant about using the equipment down there. The humidity was insane. While it was really cold in there everything was clammy and wet after a few minutes. Plus the floor and walls were wet as well. But thnakfully nothing arched or blew up - sometimes you just need a little faith :-)

After five hours we emerged to what turned into a rainy sunday evening…

More on this shoot (incl. a little making of video) coming up soon…

Posted by nicolashenri on May 19th, 2008 :: Filed under Lighting, Making Of, Underground