Text By Alice B. Miller • Images By Lois Greenfield
Lois Greenfield is, from many perspectives, the consummate still-life photographer. Her compositions, classic examples of form and content working in sync to become stunning visual statements.
What sets her apart from other still-life photographers is that her subjects are rarely still. More often than not, they're leaping, spinning, or flying across the studio.
"For most of us, a calendar marks the linear progression of time. The days, weeks, months move forward, never to look back. Time, however, is cyclical, marking the earth's daily rotation around the sun. It is only our construction of time that deludes us into thinking we are moving forward when we are actually spinning in place.
"I've created these photographs for the Broncolor 2003 calendar to be meditations and mythologies suggesting the nested orbits of the sun, moon, and earth."
THE DANCE OF TIME
The craft of dance photography is no easy matter. Like good acting, good dance photography makes it all look deceptively easy. Capturing fleeting moments in time requires enormous levels of concentration, not to mention lightning-fast reflexes, technical mastery, and teamwork on both sides of the camera.
Viewers of Greenfield's work often assume that her complex images are pieced together after the fact in Photoshop. Not so. Her unique events in time are carefully planned and executed by creatives that live and love their craft.
CENTER STAGE: BRONCOLOR
Alas, no matter how fast you hit the shutter button, if your lighting system isn't up to spec, more often than not you'll miss the shot. Which is why, after trying lighting equipment from a variety of manufacturers, Greenfield ultimately chose Broncolor.
"A unique quality of Broncolor light-shaping tools is their ability to accurately render the precise look of the actual flash exposure," she explains. "The integration of the modeling lamp within the flashtube with the physical design of each Broncolor reflector results in the most accurate modeling light in the industry. What you see is truly what you get."
What this means is when lighting her set, Greenfield's team can light their subjects and background knowing exactly how each element of the image will look in the final exposure.
She is particularly fond of the Broncolor Satellite soft reflector for lighting her main subjects. The light it produces is both soft and crisp, and skin tones are rendered in a creamy, flattering manner. Umbrellas and a variety of Broncolor reflectors light the balance of each shot.
"Having the ability to set output levels in increments of 1/10 of a stop repeatedly and consistently is worth the price of admission," says Greenfield.
Then there is the fact that digital readouts display the exact output levels of each head. Unlike most other packs, the ready light on Broncolor packs will not flash on until the pack is totally up to speed, which means the color temperature of each exposure is consistent. So whether you're shooting film or digital, the first exposure and last will be comparable in both color and density.
As an aside, Greenfield is so fond of the Broncolor lighting elements, she actually used some of them as visual elements in the calendar images, which you see throughout this article. The balloon lamp becomes the moon; the Picolite is a star.
As satisfied as she is with product quality, she is equally pleased with the reliability of Broncolor's customer service. As photographers know all too well, if there's nobody on the other side of the phone when problems arise, all the technical excellence in the world is for naught.