A few months back, I was given the assignment by Sinar Bron Imaging (www.sinarbron.com) to produce a series of location fashion shots to illustrate the quality and flexibility of the new Sinar eMotion 75 digital camera back and Broncolor Verso A2 portable Power Pack. So, I decided to put the new equipment through the ultimate test: a series of location shoots in New York City—in one day! This would allow me to test the quality of the equipment, as well as its ease of transport.
Once I received client approval, it was time to turn concept into reality. The most stressful first step was managing the logistics: Talent, location scouting, and making the whole project fit within budget. I put together a crew that would ultimately help translate this concept into real imagery. I found a model with an intriguing look and a sense of elegance, but not someone with a familiar face from a recent ad campaign. I selected fashion, makeup, and hair stylists who understood the mood of the images I wanted to produce. I knew my two assistants would be able to keep up with the fast-paced assignment and multiple technical challenges.
The next step was to secure a permit to shoot in and around New York City from the Mayor’s Office and a special permit for our shoot on the Brooklyn Bridge, a high-security alert area.
Fortunately, the weather was on our side. We had a deep-blue sky and scattered, patchy white clouds. We met the crew at the stylist’s studio and drove our location vehicle to our first stop: the Brooklyn Bridge. Shooting at a specific time to get the look I wanted added to the pressure of staying on schedule.
Equipment was my next concern. The Sinar Bron Imaging equipment was easy to transport and to set up. I was anxious to find out how it would actually perform on location in an environment that had absolutely no room for error and no time for re-shoots or set changes.
Since the back was designed for tethered and untethered operation, I was able to move around freely, a tremendous benefit at this and other locations. The unit’s 6GB shock-resistant, solid state memory holds up to 160 images (RAW, compressed).
I also shot simultaneously onto high-capacity CF cards and the built-in solid state memory for increased file security. The Verso A2 portable power pack provided ample power. I generally shot with the Broncolor Ringflash because it combines natural and artificial light so precisely for critical control of the output. At our next stop, the Flatiron District, I shot with the back, power pack, and Ringflash. The breakdown and setup of the gear was really fast and easy.
Our final location, Times Square at twilight, was the most challenging. The sidewalks were filled with pedestrians, mostly tourists, and the streets had an endless stream of cars and yellow taxis. The same lights that make Times Square a worldwide attraction presented a considerable lighting challenge for us. My stress level was extreme.
Minutes before twilight, my crew and I scrambled to find parking—never an easy job in New York—for our oversized location vehicle. We needed a parking spot large enough to hold the length of four cars! Hair, makeup, and wardrobe had to be done quickly. Model Elizabeth Parker, from Elite modeling agency, was dressed in a sexy, red dress by Emannuel Ungaro, which made “crowd control” that much more difficult.
I had the Verso power pack attached to a rolling hand cart with a couple of bungies. One of my assistants rolled the power pack as I walked and shot in and around Times Square, searching for the perfect location.
Twilight is a difficult and challenging time to shoot. My concept was to capture that excitement in one frame. The Sinar eMotion 75 was mounted to a Hasselblad camera with a 40mm lens. The Broncolor Ringflash connected to the Verso actually allowed for a continuing modeling light—a unique technology developed by Broncolor—that helped the focusing operation and eliminated red eye. I was able to shoot with all this gear, handheld, at 1/30 second exposure.
I focused on balancing the quickly disappearing daylight with the neon lights and the Ringflash. I had to constantly change my settings to adjust to the changing light. Using the RFS transmitter mounted to the hot shoe of my camera let me dial the power settings on the Verso A2 RFS up and down and judge the images instantly and accurately on the Sinar eMotion 75’s 24-bit color OLED. The OLED has a terrific translucent histogram for instantaneous and continuous reading to control exposure accuracy. It was extremely useful in helping me stay on track.
When I got back to the studio and opened the 190MB files, it confirmed that I had consistent exposure and eye-popping colorful images. The clarity of the images and their natural optical sharpness was unbelievable. It was the first time I had digital files that didn’t require any software sharpening prior to printing. The assignment was a big success. We got our images, and it was all much less stressful than we had anticipated.