SHAWN'S NINJA JOURNAL
My friend Jenna Marshall, whom I have photographed several times over the years, contacted me prior to my participation in 1 Stop Closer and suggested a creative photoshoot idea involving warrior ninjas dressed up in nothing but black electrical tape. I sat on this idea for a while as I didn’t really have a platform for how those images could be presented. Not long after, David Nault approached me about the idea of doing a “behind-the-scenes of photography” web series and Ninja became one of the first episode ideas that we discussed.
Here I am demonstrating to Jenna my mad flying sidekick skills as she ducks for cover.
SPECS f/11, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100, 45mm lens
SPECS f/11, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100, 30mm lens
A location shoot like this is never without challenges. I struggled for a while to find an alley that would be an appropriate backdrop for the photographs. I certainly came across many different cool looking alleys but the problem was always logistics. I knew that we were going to have a fairly big lighting setup and we didn’t want to have to deal with accommodating vehicle traffic through the alley (like playing street hockey as a kid yelling "car!") or obtaining city permits to close down the alley for the night. Instead, we found this alley beside the Primal Instinct Tattoo Parlor. It was a perfect location but we were unable to obtain power throughout the night at either of the adjacent businesses. Our solution was to run portable power generators.
Aside from the strobe lights that I was running for the actual photographs, I also needed to power hot lights for the video crew to use to illuminate the set. Strobe lights for photography require very little in the way of wattage; however, hot lights do. Aaron wired up two 2000 watt portable generators and that was enough to cover us for five Einstein strobes and two 1000 watt hot lights.
We placed a tarp on the ground to protect the bare feet of our two models and then used one of those half Bosu ball thingies as a bouncy object to jump off of. Our second model, Meredith Kathleen, was an Olympic gymnast who won all kinds of national awards for trampoline. So having her model for us was really helpful for some of our jumping shots.
Cheri Chung is a brilliant makeup artist and I always love getting the chance to work with her. She created these designs entirely on her own and they worked beautifully. I felt so bad for the models when the tape was removed as it pulled on their skin pretty hard. Wherever the tape had been, their skin was bright red after the tape was removed. Once all of the tape was off, Jenna and Meredith looked like they were still wearing their ninja outfits – just with red lines instead of black!
I absolutely love working with Nicole Pidherny of Loyal Hair Therapy. She is so creative and talented with her hairstyling. Nikki and I have worked on many shoots together over the years and I prefer to just give her a general concept and let her run with it because I know that what she designs and creates will be awesome.
SPECS f/11, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100, 34mm lens
In terms of lighting, for this setup I used a beauty dish placed quite close to the models to act as their key. I then had a large vertical softbox placed just to the left of frame and this light was primarily to act as a very broad fill source to reflect in the tape and the blade of the sword. I wanted to ensure that the models popped out from the background and so this was why I used a ton of backlight. An Einstein strobe was placed within the actual frame of the image. I also placed a strobe behind a pile of garbage and threw a full CTB (blue) gel over top to create some cool ambience in the background.
These creative shoots are not only a great way to sharpen your skills and do something different but they are a ton of fun.
SPECS f/11, 1/200 second exposure, ISO 100, 24mm lens