Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Crombie McNeill Workshop and Ashley Garrett Virtuoso Styling

Crombie reminded me the night before in an email that there was another workshop on Sunday, October 25, and this one was one that I had been waiting for ... a chance to experiment with lighting in a studio setting.

The location was a large space on the main floor of an apartment building, which had been left pretty much open. Ashley Garrett was letting us use the space, I believe in return for a photoshoot of his work. While the workshop went on, Ashley cut a young lady's hair and the process and result were really something to behold. Her name, by the way, is Amanda, and she is a lovely person with really stunning eyes.

I managed to participate in about 30 minutes of the lighting workshop when Crombie pulled me aside and asked me to handle the photoshoot for Ashley's work. I am so glad that I was both offered the opportunity and was sane enough to say yes :-)

This post describes the environment, workshop and a brief trip through the 3 and 1/2 hour styling job. It took so long for several reasons. One, Ashley is now teaching, so this was paced as would be a seminar. I captured just about every single moment on 4 memory cards (had to borrow one from Paul near the end) ... a total of, wait for it ... 1,800 images! Yes, that is not a typo. I got 1,800 images from the D300 alone ... *not counting those you will see here* ...

Blew my mind too.

So one thing to keep in mind ... these images are the snack. The meal comes later when I have culled and processed the 1800 images from the D300. These images are all from the Fuji F70EXR. A small, but capable compact camera. Search this blog for "F70EXR" to see many other posts, totaling over three hundred sample images.

The images you will see here are in black and white. The main reason for that is that the lighting in this room is brutal for photography. There is the rather blue shade coming in from full length windows at the front and the back of tre space. There are the very orange halogens along the walls and scattered throughout the ceiling. And there is the 5000k light (much warmer than the shade coming in from the windows but much cooler than the light on the walls) that was coming from the left of the styling location most of the time.

The difficulty in getting a decent skin tone drove me to go black and white all the way. I am hoping for a better result from the D300.

Crombie assembled the crew of about a half dozen participants and 2 models (a third would arrive later) and began discussing the types of light we would work with.

This was one of three setups in the space ... these are soft boxes with strobes. He used modeling lights to demonstrate the various forms of lighting, as shown here on Anna.

I took a break while the gang got going, each person taking the lead from the strobes and hooking it up to their hot shoe in turn. The strobe setup was at the back of the space and turning and facing the front of the space, we see how open it is. The following image is the only color image in this post, showing Queen Street and facing North.

Back to the workshop ... I waited my turn as some were shooting and others were examining their results with the instructor.

Note that the above image was salvaged from a poorly exposed back-lit image. Not bad, and only possible in black and white.

I managed to get an image of the third model (Chelsea) when they began using the continuous lighting setup. At this point, I was taking a break from using the D300 for a few moments and thought I'd show the continuous lighting and the proximity to the space in which I was capturing the styling work.

Obviously, there were people in my space pretty often ... and I had to be extremely careful with backgrounds, as it was easy to get really ugly combinations of arms and legs and light stands and what-not.

At some point, I wandered back to the strobe area and shot Marie-Eve, without the benefit og the strobes. Just by the modeling lights. Go Fuji!

A more contrasty version with a touch of glow.

After I began running low on memory for the D300 I shot a series with the F70EXR. They turned out surprisingly well.

I love head shots ... it's certainly part of my journalistic style. I always go in for details while trying to capture the action. Here, I zoom in for a shot of Amanda's lovely face, showing the progress so far.

I've had the pleasure of seeing virtuoso performers at the NAC ... brilliant soloists that so things you find hard to believe. Watching Ashley style Amanda's hair gave me the same sense of skill and accomplishment.

SInce the window area was about 6 feet from where Ashley was working, I was able to track the final shooting location, the large window ... this of course gave off a wonderful northern light. Very soft, but very directional. Balderson taught be just how amazing that kind of light can be.

Anna posed there for several people. I think Paul was leading this parade ...

And back to watching Ashley work ...

I walked around into a tight corner to shoot them with the room itself as background. This shows the light from a different angle, but allows you to see the room in behind.

We're getting closer here ... so I zoom in for more head shots.

And we continue ...

You can see here the clips he uses to temporarily get hair out of the way. He keeps up to three of them on his sleeve while he works.

A brief peek over at the natural light area and I can see that Paul is getting Anna to curve herself ... looks really nice.

And back to Ashley and Amanda ...

Things are looking *really* nice now ...

At some point here, Ashley mentioned that he could stop any time if they were pressed for time. This elicited a bit of surprise from Amanda's mother, asking why he could just stop? Ashley mentioned that it's a process, and he can pick up when they come back next time for coloring of her hair. This got a chuckle ... but soon enough he really was done.

I shot more images of the final product, but those were done with the D300 so you'll have to wait for the next post, which will have far more detail on the cutting. Surprisingly though, these images are quite good for documenting the styling. Short of a detail shot on the scissors Ashley uses for thinning edges, which he invented and for which he holds a US patent, I think we have a lot of good detail here. But let's wait and see how the other 1800 images come out :-)(

Amanda and her mother left then, after we exchanged email and blog addresses so they could see Amanda's images. (Remember, I have much better images from the D300 ... these are the light snack preceding that meal.)

Once the photo equipment had been packed up and put into the cars out back, I popped back in to see Ashley's son (whose name I have forgotten ... I'll fix that later) set up to record. He plays a mean guitar and sings quite well too.

And one final shot of Ashley himself in his street garb. A much different look.

So ... a strange workshop for me ... not what I envisioned, but in some ways much, much better. Met some interesting people, watched a real professional do his thing, shot images of a beautiful young girl ... good times. Now if only I can squeeze out a few dozen hours to cull and process those 1800 images from the big cam ...


DannySees said...

Some really great pictures here! Thanks for sharing the experience

Kim Letkeman said...

Thanks. That little F70 continues to amaze me in low light.