Haste Makes More Haste

Never volunteer. All twelve actresses ended up participating in an ongoing lighting experiment as I rushed to make up for my late arrival. The first four got a very dark background.

Better-trained and/or more considerate clerks at local businesses always like to assure me, as I wait in line, that they will be right with me. And I always reply with a smile, “If I was in a hurry, I wouldn’t be living in Ojai.”

But I sure got into a hurry last night. I was updating one of my websites (www.deanzphoto.com) and lost track of the time.  Around 5:45, I realized I was supposed to be at the Petit Playhouse in Oxnard at 6:15 to photograph headshots for the Elite Theater Company’s production of As It Is In Heaven.

I pulled on some shoes, threw flashes and lenses into a bag, and drove carelessly fast for almost an hour. I arrived half an hour late and thoroughly rattled. Somewhere along the way, I lost my AFKA mantra.

As some of you may recall, AFKA is the life-changing acronym I picked up from David Hobby last March. It stands for Ambient, Fill, Key, and Accent. Control these, and you become a master of light.

Thinking I could solve the background separation problem with a second fill light, I ended up with "River Cop" lighting. Interesting for a portrait, but not quite right for a foyer headshot. I was just working too fast and not really studying my LCD.

Unfortunately, my brain does not travel as fast as my car, and did not arrive at the theater until I had already photographed four of the twelve women in the play. They did not get a background (Accent) light, so their dark hair blends into the dark background. It’s not a deal-breaker, but it bothers me.

Of course, by the time I got some background light going, the light-haired women stepped in front of the camera. For them, I should have turned DOWN the background light for better separation, but I just wasn't thinking clearly.

The background was not the only lighting problem with this set of twelve photos, but I haven’t decided whether to cry over this spilt milk on my blog or not. After all, most people don’t notice my mistakes until I tell them about it. Hmmm. Maybe the other acronym that will help my photography is for me to STFU.

By the time the twelfth actress stepped in front of the camera, I had pretty much figured out the lighting. But it was time for rehearsal to start. The moral? Always use the alarm feature on your iPhone calendar.

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Filed under Dance and Theater, Lighting, Portraiture

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