Monday, 27 May 2013

On location portrait photoshoot

I received an email from the pharmaceutical company Nobel Biocare asking if I would be free to take some portraits of a dentist for an article that they will soon be publishing.

When I  responded positively that I was available, I was sent details of the shoot and the requirements of the image that was needed. Basically it was a vertical format, preferably three quarters or head and shoulder with a slightly out of focus background. Another proviso was that the dentist shouldn't be wearing his work clothes. 

All very straight forward except it was to be taken in his surgery during business hours. There would be patients in the vicinity. I decided to travel light and although all my gear remained in my car, I used only my 5d MKII with my new 24 - 105 zoom, a Speedlite 430 EX2 and an interesting diffuser that I picked up on a Swiss auction site for a few Francs. I love this device as it gives a lovely almost shadow free light.

The new diffuser in place

I arrived half an hour early at the practice and looked around whilst Dr Sleiter tended to business. As the background had to be slightly soft, I looked for a location that had something on the walls that wouldn't detract too much. I saw two rooms that I thought would be suitable for the image. In one room, the ambient light was measured at 1/80sec at f5.6 and the other recorded 1/200 sec at f5. These apertures were chosen to render the background as slightly out of focus.

When Dr Sleiter was free, he changed out of his dentist clothes and selected a shirt which (in my opinion) wouldn't clash with the surroundings or background.

We started in the first  room and I selected 1/80sec at f5.6 manually on the camera. The walls weren't white and this was seen in the image as the flash reflected from them. The resulting image is warm, which I quite like.

 1/80sec @ f5.6 with flash

My only concern was the background. I wasn't sure if it would distract too much on the magazine page where it was appearing.

After a couple of more pictures we moved to one of the surgeries where it was a lot brighter. I started (with the settings established earlier) with a head and shoulders of Dr Sleiter standing then I had an idea. What about making the foreground out of focus?  

1/200 @ f5 with flash

 To be safe, I first asked him to sit on one of the dental chairs and I took a head and shoulders pic of him.

 1/200 @ f5 with flash

Then I swung the dental equipment in front of him to give some sort of "meaning" to the image. This is my favourite of the bunch as it immediately says to me "dentist in his environment".

All in all an enjoyable assignment that went very smoothly with the minimum of equipment and setting up.

It will be interesting to see which image they use in the magazine.

Thanks for reading.

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