Can You Protect The Universe And Those You Love?
Recently we were presented with an interesting opportunity (which further details will be shared at a later date). We were all really into it as it could get us in front of an audience that may not normally come our way via the internet.
But we quickly realized something: a lot of the material that we had for Taco's Treasures and Mermaid Child were holiday themed. And we felt that showing such work around this time of year may not go over as well. While Phee and Allybelle had stuff we could pull from there was still a gap for the other two.
So what do we do? Plan out a ton of shoots over the course of a few weeks. Some doing multiple characters and even multiple sources in one day. Yep, it was going to be quite a bit of work.
One set we knew we wanted to do was Sailor Moon. Taco had been working on both Sailor Galaxia for herself and Eternal Sailor Moon for Mermaid Child especially with an eye on entering them into competitions (which they did win Best Wigs at AKon 28). Plus Allybelle had been putting time into recreating her Sailor Venus but this time around with additions to make Super Sailor Venus. So this was a good chance to get photos of those three in a studio setting.
Since this wasn't tied to a holiday theme I knew I wanted to put more attention to the characters themselves along with possibly trying out some narrative pieces. With some of the story that surrounds these three particular characters and the scenes used trying to do something more with lighting was something that needed to be done.
Originally with some of the lighting ideas I had in mind I decided to try DJ/stage lighting since I had seen some really neat things with some setups that our musicians friends employed. One item was the American DJ Revo 4 as it did some really neat sunflower effects that I thought would be really cool. But in testing I discovered something rather quickly: it just straight up was not bright enough. Even when I attempted to use it as a rim light you couldn't even notice it was there when I had any other light source on a subject in front of it... even at the lowest power. So that had to go.
On a whim I decided to do some testing to see what I could possibly do with using a snoot. I had a velcro wrap around one I had picked up a while back and tried it out. The results were... not great. It allowed for way more light spill at the end than I had really wanted. Then I remembered an article I had read a while back where a photographer actually used a cereal box as a snoot to great effect. I don't eat cereal so I had to think of the next best thing... which were cardboard mailing boxes. I grabbed a couple from the local post office and tried them out. It was a lot closer to the look I was wanting.
Another piece of this was that we wanted to try some things with haze or smoke. There were a number of different videos we had seen from Gavin Hoey at Adorama TV were he used smoke for some really neat effects. Though investing in a smoke machine with good controls wasn't quite in the cards at the time. Then we learned of a neat product called Atmosphere Aerosol that was basically haze/smoke in a can (thanks to Joe Edelman for suggesting that in one of his videos).
Ordered a five pack of cans... made some snoots... tested things out at home... and I really liked the possibilities.
Didn't quite work in the studio. Primarily since we were not able to procure a proper background stand prior to the shoot. We attempted using PVC pipe but the speedlites were too heavy and would cause the pipe to sag.
I thought this might be a possibility... so I already had backup plans in mind. One of them stemming from what I had learned from testing out the Revo 4.
The Bowens mount bracket I had also had four cold shoe mounts. When I first got it I never thought I'd use them. Good thing I had it then.
I stuck four Yongnuo YN560 series flashes on them and stuck various colored gels on them depending on the character as a rim light. With the Atmosphere Aerosol we got some amazing results. For those shots where we were not using the Aerosol I was typically shooting at the X-T2's base ISO of 200. But for the smoke shots I did have to shutter drag and go to ISO 800 to really pull the details and color out of the smoke. But the X-T2 is so good about only having a small bit of grain at that ISO I really didn't have to worry about doing anything about it in post processing. The key light used here was a Godox AD200 going through a Wescott 60" umbrella.
We were all really happy with the pics and learned a lot in the process. And given that not a lot of people have done Sailor Galaxia, Eternal Sailor Moon, or Super Sailor Venus we think this will make a lot of Sailor Moon fans happy.