With little advance notice, I arrived at the local high school in the late afternoon to shoot a promo photo for an upcoming performance. The Gulf Islands School of Performing Arts (GISPA) is a school within Gulf Islands Secondary School (GISS). The talented GISPA dancers have the opportunity to perform their newly created piece, Heartbeat in conjunction with The 605 Collective. The promo shot would be submitted that same day to the local newspaper.
Time and space constraints made lighting the shot impractical. The students we’re pulled from their classes and would need to change, get the shot done, change and get back to class. Further, the dance studio and seemingly every other space in the school, was booked by classes. Five minutes of our limited time was now gone.
Looking up from the busy mulit-purpose room I noticed what appeared to be a well lit area. This mezzanine hallway seemed to be a possibility. The dark overcast afternoon provided some directional light from east windows and from the two story multi-purpose room. Below a crop shows the available light catch lights in the dancer’s eyes.
The architecture provided an interesting background. It was coming together. Ten minutes gone.
The dancers tried a few poses from the opening of Heartbeat and we worked to mirror the background architecture. The students were a delight to work with: focused, creative, and thoughtful. After every few shots they had a look at the camera screen, made some suggestions, then regrouped. People walked through our shoot; it is a hallway in building of 650 people. But we soon had our shot. Fifteen minutes gone. The dancers headed back to class.
The shoot initially looked almost impossible: a dark (as in f/2 at ISO 3200, black background that would not reproduce well on newsprint), a double booked facility, no chance to reschedule… It’s good to occasionally have this kind of pressure. I’m sure it makes you work on creativity. And it feels great to construct a successful shot in a tough situation.
I knew the 1D MkIV would help in two ways. First, ISO 1600 is completely useable on this camera, and not just for newsprint. Second, once we had the final pose, being able to capture several frames in a very short time assured me that there’d be no issue with blinking or facial expression. I chose the 35 f/1.4 as it is a superbly sharp and fast lens and would allow appropriate coverage and depth of field. The soft east window light provided some drama in an otherwise typically dark building.
Did I mention the kids were great?