Some shoots go like clockwork, others are a struggle. This one had some glitches, which is very unusual for shooting at Much.
This is the second time I've photographed her recently. At Fashion Cares she was very relaxed and cooperative with the media. Yesterday she was distracted, skittish and not very forthcoming for most of the media op. I guess she came all the way up to Toronto for the minus seven degree weather.
We were informed she would be available right off the top of the show when she was being interviewed, but that didn't happen. Neither did the concert segment.
After several delays the publicist finally gets her lined up with the MuchMusic sign in the background for a quicky headshot. Just as we start to shoot the room lights (which were our only illumination on her) go off because they are back from commercial break and all we have is Katy silouhetted against the backlit sign. All the studio lights are aimed the other way. She does a 10 sec. smirk for each photographer then takes off for the green room like that's it. Photo shoot over.
There is no question of using a flash in this circumstance. You're not allowed to use flash in the studio. The lighting that had been on her went out because the show was once again live to air. Using a flash would have resulted in security removing me from the premises.
When you see a broadcast of this sort at home it is one continuous feed. But live in the studio there are short bursts of live taping interspersed with long minutes when the house lights come up and everyone sits around bored waiting for something to happen while they run a pre-taped segment. Usually it's during these off-air moments that media are allowed to shoot set up photos (we're also allowed to shoot the interviews or live performances most the time, but this wasn't the case for Katy Perry)
As well, with an audience in place and many tech people scattered throughout the studio (it's a smallish studio too) photographers don't usually show up with bags and a ton of equipment.
Standard for this assignment would be something in the range of a 24-70 2.8 on one body and a 70-200mm 2.8 on another. I'm using the Digital Zuiko 12-60 2.8 (24-120mm equiv.) on the E3, and the 50-200mm 2.8 (100-400mm equiv.) on the E510.
No bag. No flash. This allows for much easier movement and you don't have to annoy them by putting bags down on the floor or work surfaces. Sometimes photogs don't even show up with coats on (nowhere to put them so you end up wearing it in a very hot lit studio environment). It was a chilly trip from the carpark last night.
After our debacle in the dark the woman from Reuters, the guy from Getty and I gather around in a circle to compare and all we have is ... well, nothing really. Just a silouhette of her with a bit of rim lighting and minimal detail in the shadow areas.
So the publicist assures us we'll be able to shoot Katy when she comes back from the green room, but she just blows right past us without stopping when that moment arrives.
So the new plan is to do her next commercial break... which becomes next commercial break ... which becomes just before she does her last live song - as in, just before she leaves the building.
This actually works out, but the lighting is set for the opposite direction from where she is standing, so the single overhead light we're stuck with does nothing but render her make-up grossly overdone. However this time she does spend a little longer giving each photographer (there were six in all) a look.
The problem with the second sequence, which should have been our best shot, was they were set up to do her live singing performance and we were positioned opposite to the key lighting for a complimentary look.
Such is life when you are shooting in the middle of a live TV broadcast.
Also, MuchMusic used to have two studios side by side. The one across the hall from yesterday’s was always a lot better from a lighting stand point. I did Rihanna and Elisha Cuthbert in there and it was just superb. But now E-Talk has that studio (gotta keep Ben Mulroney looking good I suppose :)
So the last sequence where the exposure is good doesn't do her justice, and has a very busy background with the studio audience back there. Thus I decided to try rescuing the grossly under-exposed JPEG from the first sequence.
This required a few trips through Neat Image noise removal program, some radical curves and selective levels adjustments, a little bit of fill lighting applied, and just a bit of light cloning. Surprisingly, banding wasn't as bad as some less under exposed images I've worked on in the past. I expected the backlit sign to blow out completely but it held up fairly well.
In the end we got the photo above, which, while not perfect, is a hundred percent more useable than I ever expected considering what I started with.
Heck, If I was using the new Olympus E30 I could say I actually did it intentionally with one of those fancy art effects filters. You know, the 'Heroic PhotoShop Intervention Filter'
Olympus E3 camera with 12-60mm f2.8 lens.
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