Gorilla Saturday

Saturday was filled with unexpected situations and nonexistent equipment. I learned that the ability to adapt to your environment and make great images with the limited gear is what sets apart the good from the great.

I wanted to share my experiences on two different sets on the same day and how we made them work with what we had.

Saturday, November 14 2015 
1100 hours
Las Puertas Warehouse
Albuquerque, NM

I was invited by a an ABQ friend, photographer and director Mukul Gadde to assist on a photo shoot. These photoshoots are a lot of fun and I get to experiment in lighting with strobes.

When I arrived, Mukul told me that he wanted to shoot slo-mo video on his Black Magic URSA along with the stills. He had an Arri 4 light kit that we would light with. It had 3 stands, 2 beat up scrims, no diffusion and several busted barn doors. I was not expecting to shoot video so I did not bring my kit. Heres where it gets fun.


The theme of the photoshoot was dark clowns. We chose to shoot on a small stage which was backdropped by a cool medieval, victorian, tapestry archway thing. I set up the two 300w fresnels as backlights on either side of the stage. I was going to bounce the two tweenies into something as a key but Mukul forgot his reflector. What to do? Luckily we were in a giant warehouse with everything from electric wheelchairs to file cabinets. I wandered around the warehouse looking for some type of bounce. I found a small 3×4 dry erase board. Perfect! I just happened to have a c-stand in my car for the next shoot that day so I mounted the white board into the c-stand and shot the tweenie into it. We needed a little more exposure out of our bounce key and we had one more tweenie but no more stands. I found a small 4 step rolling staircase which was nearly the same height as the bounce.



The lighting, the set and the model/clowns looked awesome and Mukul got some fantastic images. We also did some really cool slo motion stuff with the same setup, balls, bears and clowns. He said this was his happiest photoshoot and we all had tons of fun.

This shoot was successful because of our ability to improvise. I hear a lot “we could have done better if we had better equipment.” Excuses are for lazy people. It’s not about the equipment you have its about how you use it.

Shoot 2
Lantern Fest
Saturday, November 14 2015 
1630 hours
Sandia Speedway
Albuquerque, NM

That evening we were shooting some pickup shots for Angelina’s music video “I will remember,” at the Albuquerque Lantern Fest. It was a small crew with limited equipment. We had no power so battery everything again. I planned to use a china ball to key Angelina as she sets off her lantern with all the others lift into the sky. Joss built a small rig that we could mount 3 led video lights to inside the china ball. The problem was that it had to be put together inside of the china ball so it was a ship in a bottle type situation. While putting it together I dropped one of the lights right through the side of the ball. No worries, I used the big hole I accidentally created to have better access to mount the lights. Then the whole thing fell off the c-stand and came apart once again. Knowing that this was not going to work and launch time quickly approaching, I shredded the china ball to show it who’s in charge. Diana salvaged part of the china ball, I repositioned the lights on the rig and the Jellyfish was born.

created from a destroyed china ball
created from a destroyed china ball

We used this as a key and our backlight was from a Dracast led panel. We only had a cheap, lightweight stand for the Dracast and we needed to be fairly high to act as moonlight. We did not have a sand bag nor a rocky mountain leg so I grabbed two granola bars that were in the crafty bag put them under a leg to level it and hung the bag which was full of water on the stand. Stable as a rock! Amazing images by Diana followed. Another improv shoot a success.

Lantern Fest

I have had better results on some of these seat-of-the-pants shoots than I have had on shoot where we have all the equipment and time in the world. I guess too much time to think is not always good.

What rigs and IFD’s (improvised film device) have you come up with?

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