Friday, July 31, 2009

Studio on my back

This past weekend, I was asked by my friend John to come by his apartment to work on some photos of him and his roommate, Suzanne. They live in an older apartment building on the outskirts of Williamsburg and Bushwick, and Suzanne has decorated their place with all sorts of neat-looking vintage furniture and nick-nacks.

The two of them - John, being a rather fashionable fellow and former stylist, and Suzanne, being an actress - had a surprisingly wide variety of cool vintage clothing that they wanted to get dressed up in. We figured it might be fun to go for that classic "old time photo" look.

Mind you, we hadn't discussed this beforehand - all I knew going in was that we would be shooting in the apartment, and there might be a cat.

So I decided to try to over-prepare myself, and set to put together a rig that would allow me the option to use up to five lights, with an array of modifiers to go with them.

I looked at the directions to get to their place from my place, and unfortunately, there was no direct route. The nearest train stop is a good 15 minute walk, and there isn't a bus that goes near there, either. I didn't want to deal with calling a car or trying to find a taxi, because dammit - I've got a bike.

Normally, I'd pack two bags - my Pelican 1514 hard case, which would carry all of my camera gear and the strobes, and then my trusty Kelty backpack, which would get stuffed with all of the grip equipment. I've travelled this way many times in the past, and when I'm only walking a few blocks here and there (to and from the train), it's no problem.

This time, however, I figured I'd test my limits a bit.

As I was unpacking my gear from the Pelican case, I was struck with an idea - "I wonder if this padded divider insert would fit inside my backpack..." Sure enough, it fit inside perfectly. With room to spare, in fact. With the dividers in my pack, I was able to load up just about everything I'd normally put into the Pelican case. Since there was still room on top, and I needed some tension to ensure that everything held in place, I started placing my various modifiers and grip gear on top of and around the insert, until the bag was nice and tight. It zipped up without a problem.

Finally, I grabbed a pair of flimsy - er light-weight - light stand bags, and managed to stuff the remaining gear into them, and then secured them to the sides of the backpack. I picked up the pack (which must've weighed a good 40+ pounds), and it felt well-balanced. Sure enough, once it was on my back, it felt great. Looking in the mirror, I kinda felt like a little kid who was pretending to be Boba Fett or something (I know, I know, he didn't have two things pointing out of the sides; he had the one thing pointing out the middle. I said "little kid", okay? sheesh.)

With the pack secured, I hopped on my bike, and proceeded to shoot the following pictures:



and, going for the weathered/aged/vintage look:


I was so impressed with my pack-job, that I decided to make a little video of myself unpacking it all:

studio on my back pack job vid

Further details and a close-up shot can be found here.

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