Pixel Peeping: Fr. Fulco's Location Shoots
Hey everyone, I’m back! In this installment of Pixel Peeping, I’m diving into the two location pictures I have put below!
First off, let’s talk about these photos, and how they came about. To go in order, we’ll start with photograph #1, which is the photo of Fr. Fulco wearing the bunny costume, smoking a carrot cigar. He’s also the director of the Archaeological Studies program at LMU, so we shot in his museum.
My first point here would be to mention that I had never been in the room we shot in. Let’s just say that this in itself made it hard to pre-visualize it.
We shot in a sort of history display, as it had tables lined with glass. Those tables had exhibits on display inside, with more mirrors surrounding them. They were lined by silver, metal brackets that were pretty shiny. Let’s just say these display cases, in a dark room, are a photographers’ worst nightmare. It leads to reflections and stray light galore.
I decided to put him at the edge of the room, against the wall with a clean-ish table. That’s where we really committed to the smoking the cigar (or should I say, carrot) concept. If you look at the outtakes, we have SO MANY different poses for the carrots. But the one you see above is the one that ended up sticking. Again, go with what you’re given, right?
But before all that, we had to light the setting. The room dictated a couple of things – we’d have to light to avoid basically any major hard environmental reflections and general weirdness.
We went with a two light setup. I bounced light off the wall right in front of Fr. Fulco to keep the light close and soft, and we had a light pointed at the ceiling for fill. Nothing direct came from the fill light, and all the shadows (and reflections) it produced were pointed downward away from the shot. Easy, right?
(I’m well aware that Fr. Fulco isn’t a DJ – that’s just the best option for a table in the diagram maker.)
Another issue with pre-visualization is costume production. Let’s just say that shooting a portrait of a guy wearing a gigantic bunny costume isn’t easy, and we had to frame a million times, until we found the right combination.
The second picture, with him standing, was difficult in another way: framing. (But as you can see, it was difficult for the same reasons as the previous photo as well.)
I shoot a Phase One camera, and yes, Phase One cameras are expensive. We didn’t have access to a lens wider than, say, 50mm equivalent in 35 mm (80mm in Medium Format land).
Which is another thing I picked up from this shoot: frame for your environment if you can’t frame how you visualized something. Especially in a small room. Look at the background – we decided to adjust the shot to ensure it would make as much visual sense as it could without being distracting or unintentional looking.
Instead of the full body power shot we wanted, we settled for a more relaxed look here with a similar lighting setup, except with a softbox in play rather than bouncing light off the walls.
Do I love the shot? Yes, especially with how much of Fr. Fulco’s character shines through here. Do I wish I shot it in another room? Absolutely — I believe we could have done a lot more here.
I think the takeaway here, at least for me, is to understand the space. Don’t try too much, or too little – just work with your constraints as best as you can.
And rent a bunny costume. It’s funny, trust me.