I am new to photography, and am taking a class, our final projec tis coming up, and up until now we have shot outdoors. I chose to do a documentary of sorts following a piercer/tattoo artist for a few days. my indoor shots (taken with a nikon 35 mm) suck! we are shooting 400 t max b/w film. I know I need some lighting while shooting in a dim tattoo studio, can someone reccomend lights I should rent, and their tried and true indoor dim light shooting methods? thank you so much, I am really stressed about this project.
Steady there Anon. Sounds like you're sitting on pins and needles, so-to-speak. Don't let your glue melt. This seems to be a great project and you're using a great camera, even if it's an old Nikon F-2. Also, the T-Max film is good stuff although I prefer Tri-X. I'd avoid flash in this deal because it's distracting to both the artist and the subject. (ouch).
Since you're going to be working in the tattoo studio, regardless of how dim it is, start with the assumption that the artist needs light to do their work. Consider that as one light source and even if it's small, it should be relatively bright. Since you're working in black and white, (again I assume you've seen this place and know the lighting), you can get some clamp-on lamp sockets with a reflector attached either at a hardware store or a place like Home Depot. These are pretty cheap, like about 10 bucks each and all you'll probably need is a couple of them. You can get them with reflectors that are 10" or 5". Use the larger ones for fill light in your background if you need it, and the small ones for accent lighting. Place them where you need lighting, but out of camera view.
You can also use them with standard household lightbulbs and electrical extension cords. 75 - 100 watts should be plenty for what you're doing at that ISO. And, if you've got say a number 11 yellow filter to put on your lens, that'll brighten or at least clean up the amber cast of the lights on your black and white film to produce a cleaner white.
That's about all you should need other than model releases for the tattoo artist and his / her clients to sign off on so if later on you decide to publish the work, you should be covered.
As for your indoor shots not looking so hot, to help you with that, I'd need to know a bit more about what you were shooting, how you determined exposure (is your camera's light meter working properly? If not, change the camera batteries and retest it) and what kind of ambient light you had to work with.
Anything else, drop me an e-mail. Take it errrr....light. <G> Mark
thanks so much! I need to register here (my name is michele,nice to meet you :)) I do think I may be having a problem with my camera meter. It's the Nikon n-70. Last week I was shooting indoors the theme was "a different point of view" I was under the kitchen tabled shooting pictures of milk spilling off, it sounds weird, but it produced an interesting photo, the white milk against the dark mahogoney floors. My teacher said my film was "thin" my camera was metering at f-8 1/500, I took several letting the camera meter, and then set it myself at f-8 60 it still didin't get enough light in the room. I kept all the windows open and had the overhead kitchen light.
I'll chance my battery and see what happens there.
thanks soooooo much, I was panicing, I didn't want to waste the artists/studios time with taking a bunch of shots that don't come out.
Michele, have your camera meter checked against several of your classmate's.
mark, why would b&w film show an amber cast because of the lighting?
Thanks I will do that, I was thinking maybe the asa was set incorrectly? I will try today in class against my friends.
I checked out my location and a big problem is light, they ahve one small lamp in a windowless room. the room is TEENY, with my arms outstretched I could touch both walls. Not enough room for more than one light. argh. this is proving to be more difficult than I thought.
I agree with Mark but would suggest not using any additional lights as they would spoil the mood of the situation. What I would recommend is to use a camera support, maybe a small tripod or rest the camera on something solid. Then expose for just the highlights and let the rest of the scene go dark and moody and look natural, probably the reason you picked a tatoo parlor to begin with. Pick your angles and image content carefully. Don't try and capture the entire room in one photo.
A good photograph tells a story that the viewer can react to in an emotional way. Create something that people want to continue looking at and not see and dismiss in a few seconds.
As an example, this page has a photograph where I posed the subject under a light source and exposed for the highlights:
Larry, I LOVE that picture, where was it taken, would you mind telling me the story behind it?
I was thinking about using 3200 film, I thought the graininess (sp?) might be cool.
I am such an amatuer I almsot feel embarassed asking for advice, but I really really want to learn.
I went to this mom and pop camera shop yesterday, and the woman who owned the store reccomended no add'l lights as well she felt it would be overkill. she siad with 3200 and a 60sec shutter speed I should be good. she is renting me a couple lenses a 19-35mm and she said she would get me a 105 so I could try a few portraits of the people hanging out.
would you use flash? she said I could use the cameras built in flash to guarantee that I would get something on film...I'm just worry, I know even a built in flash is tricky, and I am no pro with it.
anymore advice and thoughts is welcome. I ahve a big project due today,and have to give a speech in Michael kenna, I am so nervous!
You really should register so your name will appear. It's easier to answer someone when you know whom you're speaking to.
The information is under the photograph. But even today I recall what I was thinking when I shot it 30 years ago. I remember that I was new to getting magazine assignments and wanted to make an impression. Looking at him I immediately noticed the resemblence to Louis Armstrong and felt I needed to capitalize on it, but in a unique way. I noticed that they had recessed lights in the living room ceiling so I posed him directly under one. Color wasn't a problem because I was only shooting black and white. Exposure was easy because I came in close and moved the camera around checking exposure. I picked the fastest of the settings the built in meter gave me (so ambient light wouldn't effect the picture) and switched over to manual so wouldn't have to concentrate on the camera. Then I shot a roll of close ups of his face with both the 50mm and 85mm lenses, probably at around F2. I do remember that it was Tri-X shot at ASA 400 because I did all my own black and white processing.
I just filled out the registration. I am waiting for my email confirmation.My name is Michele, and as soon as I get a chance I'll attach a phot of me as an Av, I know it's nice to have a name and face to put with a post =)
it's a really great photo, thanks for sharing with us.
hey larry, I finally got my registration stuff in =) no more anon =)
You'll have to post some photos when you complete the project.
I'll do that =) I'm getting started tomorrow at another tattoo shop. I decided I should probably shoot as much film as I can at a few places. For me it seems I can shoot 100 images and only really like one. I'm a little nervous, everyone was really nice to me, so I hope it goes well.
Be more mindful of what you want to acheive, and look for the light, your eye sees way more graduations or stops of light than film or even digital can record, and many many more than the paper can show. You have to learn how to "see" light the way your film does, and compress the contrast. You'll get it, write down what you want, shoot, evaluate how close you got, re-shoot, vary your settings, practice.
Some thoughts on light. The bigger it is the softer, the farther it is the softer, reverse is true also. Most people prefer a warmer light, use a bastard amber gel over your flash, try it, you may like it. If lighting is making you nuts, use a window that faces north and shoot near it with a reflector (can be a foamcore board wrapped in tinfoil) to wrap some light back around your subject.
100 shots 1 good image? Ansel Adams thought that in a year 12 really good images was a good crop.
Keep at it, your ratio will improve. 90% of photography is knowing where to stand, and what to crop out.
i finished my project and got an A, overall I am pleased though no one picture screams "perfect" I bought the 20d to practice with as I won't have acess to the lab until after summer.