For the most part I am a people shooter. I am about as interested in shooting images of static things that don't interact with me as I am in watching the proverbial grass grow. Today my buddy Les Picker enlisted my assistance in shooting some location/interior shots of his latest installation of wall art in a new restaurant prior to them firing up lunch service.
We are going back tomorrow but I did want to post a short blurb on setting up shots for something like this. I am not going to go into any details as Les will probably be posting some detail later from his perspective and I only took a few shots with my trusty LX5 to get some initial ratios as a starting point for our endeavors.
Here is my starting point from guess work - quite literally my second shot and the point at which we transitioned to a tripod mounted D700 with 24 tilt-shift Nikkor for the real deal.
Our starting point consisted of one light in the room behind the glass that reads Carsins'. It was pretty much in a bare-bulb configuration sans reflector that we ultimately re-engineered to reduce the brightness in the doorway and make the gradient on the window frosting more controllable by putting a 10" narrow beam reflector on the light and shooting that into a 48 inch white disk across the room. We had very little location flexibility with that light because we were short one radio slave and it had to be optically triggered.
We also fine tuned the ambient ratio a bit by about a third of a stop more than what you see in the above illustration. The ambient was a strange mix of incandescent, quartz, and cloudy daylight coming through large windows to camera rear. I decieded to shoot at a daylight WB with and leave the flash unfiltered as the ambient mix at daylight complemented the warmth of the walls and cherry floor. Other colors would work better in reverse - namely shooting so that ambient was neutral and then filtering the lights to produce the color temperature that was pleasing (typically a little bit warmer than the shadows for my tastes).
There were two other lights - one you can see a hole in the reflector on the right of the frame. This was a 7 inch reflector with a 30 degree grid spot focused on the large 6x9 foot mural on the back wall. the other was on camera left with a 40 degree grid. Ultimately we went with a much tighter 20 degree grid on that light. to make the falloff around the image array on the left wall far more apparent.
We shot everything manual with pocket wizard radio slaves as we were using my thermonuclear powered big-boy lights *4800 ws' vs those puny battery powered overpriced plastic things Nikon and Canon sell. Even if we did choose to use 3 dozen SB-800's shooting manual in this kind of set up is far far far easier and more consistent than wrestling with trying to outsmart the computer on your camera every shot with TTL.
We are going back tomorrow to finish the job and filling in some of the shots with people at the tables and walking through the scene with some motion blur, etc. etc. It's always good to have your shots figured out and all the lighting figured out prior to introducing live moving people to direct into the equation. For the static people I will probably add a 22" dish with a giant grid spot to light them in the foreground at about the same ratio as the images or maybe a little under. Stay tuned. In all seriousness if the details of this kind of thing are up your alley feel free to shoot any questions my way.
Keep an eye out on Les' site as I am sure he will be posting all the gory detail soon.