Text By Alice B. Miller • Images By Brain Goodman
The Leaf booth drew an SRO crowd last September at Photokina. SP&D interviewed shooter Brian Goodman to find out why and how the new Leaf Valeo 6 helped him capture these amazing photos.
How did this "painted people" project come about?
I was asked by Leaf to demonstrate the power and flexibility of its new 6-megapixel Valeo 6 digital camera back and portability kit, at Photokina, last September. Leaf had arranged to have an artist, Yossi Bitton, who specializes in body painting, with a couple of models for me to photograph. Over the course of the day, he would paint the models into a pre-painted backdrop.
Yossi explained that to make his magic work, the camera needed to remain in the same place all day. But I was there to demonstrate Leaf's new Valeo 6 digital camera with its new portability kit, the whole point of which was to show its mobility and portability.
We decided to start with the camera on a tripod and told everybody in the booth not to touch it, so at the end of the day I could put the camera back on the tripod and it would be in pretty much the same place it was in the morning.
We placed the models in position against the backdrop, and set the camera in position on the tripod. Yossi painted lines on the models, which would act as a guide when he painted them into the background. Over the course of the day, he painted his subjects as I photographed the action. For the final shot, we put the camera back on the tripod and the models back in position on the backdrop.
Was the shoot successful in meeting its objectives?
The effect was fantastic, the illusion complete. The whole process from start to finish was unbelievable. One day, I had my back toward the set and I turned around quickly to see what was going on. As I turned, my eyes passed across the midsection of one of the models who had been painted into the wall. He was gone! Until I raised my eyes and saw his face, he had completely disappeared into the backdrop.
Word spread through the halls about what was happening at the Leaf booth. People would come by first thing in the morning, at midday, and at the end of the day for the grand finale. Since the show ran for six days, we tried to come up with different poses or add new elements to keep it fresh and interesting.
What equipment did you use for the shoot? AFTER THE SHOOT?
We used the Leaf Valeo 6 digital camera back with the Leaf portability kit including the Leaf digital magazine and the DP-67 controller; Mamiya 645 AFD camera with a 55-110mm zoom lens; Apple Macintosh G4 computer; Balcar Monolights; and Pocket Wizard Transmitter/Receivers. No special effects were done in the camera or in Photoshop, just basic retouching and color correcting to the images.
I started with the original Leaf DCB, was a beta tester for the Leaf Catchlight, and added a DCB II about the same time. Currently we own two Leaf Volare and two Cantare XY camera backs, along with the DCB II. We're beta testing the Leaf Valeo 6, and it will soon be an addition to our studio.
What did you use before Leaf? Was there much of a learning curve?
Before digital photography and Leaf, I had been trained in conventional photography. We used the full assortment of equipment that most studios would use35mm, 6x7, 4x5, and 8x10 camera formats, strobe and tungsten lighting systems, etc. Today, most of the work we do is digital. although we use film when it's the right tool for the job. Learning digital wasn't too difficult, as I had had a fair amount of experience with computers and digital files already. I've been a Macintosh user since 1985.
Which of the Leaf Valeo's features do you value most?
It's speed and flexibility; seeing the image in full color and high resolution on the screen in seconds; being able to create on the fly and make changes instantaneously; knowing your exposure is right on the money; and seeing that satisfied look on your client's face when he or she sees you got the shot they were looking for.
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In 1991, Goodman started Public Works Productionsa full service creative agency specializing in photography, advertising, design, pre-press production, and related servicesto have more control over the whole creative process. Clientele includes Apple Computer, Citicorp Plaza, City of Pasadena, Kaiser Permanente, Leaf Systems, Neutrogena, Nissan USA, Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena Humane Society, Scitex America, Toyota USA, Westwood One Companies.