Micah Lee Photo Shoot

by Vu Bui on July 27, 2009

Makeup, styling and video (her first ever) by Tracie Cotta. Video shot entirely on iPhone 3GS.

Tracie set up this shoot with Micah, choosing “silent film” as our look for the shoot. We decided on Old Town Orange as the location… having an older look than most areas in Orange County. We also decided to add an “environmental portrait” as well as some fashion shots of Micah in his backyard.

People often ask us to explain in more detail our lighting setups… and I’ve already had a few requests on this shoot. So I’ll go a little more detailed than usual and include some crudely drawn diagrams done in Skitch. They look like they were done by a child, but they should explain the lighting pretty well… so don’t complain.

We started the shoot with the “environmental portrait”… it was a simple setup right in Micah’s bedroom in front of his DVD collection and assortment of figurines. We set up two 580 flashes on wireless triggers opposite each other pointing directly at Micah, and an Alien Bees AB800 with a narrow 10? grid pointed up at the poster.

Micah Lee

Diagram:

skitched-1

After that we moved on the the fashion shots, using the backyard and existing garden gnome as background and prop. For these we set up two Alien Bees AB800s as back/side lights and an ABR800 ring flash on camera.

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

Diagram:

skitched-20090727-111641

Before leaving the house we decided to take one more shot out in the front of the house. This shot was lit entirely by the street lamp out front… with backlighting by the security lights behind the house at a nearby restaurant.

Micah Lee

Micah then got dressed and Tracie did his makeup… and we took off to downtown Orange for the whole point of the shoot day… the silent film shots.

The first two shots were lit with a single 580EX flash… held by Tracie… set to 105mm zoom.

Micah Lee

Diagram:

skitched-20090727-113250

Micah Lee

Diagram:

skitched-20090727-112518

We then put Micah up on a staircase which was already backlit by a single incandescent bulb… while Tracie crouched down on the bottom step and used a small flashlight to light his face from below… for a nice creepy portrait.

Micah Lee

The last couple shots were just done with existing light which were mostly provided by street lamps with a little fill from storefront window lights on the closeup.

Micah Lee

Micah Lee

All in all it was a successful shoot… and the music Tracie chose for the video conveys the mood of the portraits extremely well. We hope you were all able to enjoy them and learn a little about our lighting at the same time.

-Vu

  • http://www.robbooker.co.uk/ Rob

    Thanks guys! Informative & Inspiring as always • With 4 portrait shoots in the next 2 days, that’s just given me a couple of nice ideas! • R

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      Awesome that we are able to help you with ideas for your shoots! Hope they go fantastically!

  • http://www.robbooker.co.uk Rob

    Thanks guys! Informative & Inspiring as always • With 4 portrait shoots in the next 2 days, that’s just given me a couple of nice ideas! • R

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      Awesome that we are able to help you with ideas for your shoots! Hope they go fantastically!

  • http://influxxmedia.blogspot.com/ adam

    I love the silent movie images. What a great theme, and perfectly executed. Old Town Orange really helped sell this concept. It looks great in b/w with the low key, long shadows etc.

    I wonder, did/do you bother with permits for shooting in the local cities? Have you experienced any problems, specifically, how do you power your lighting in public?

    Cheers for sharing your setups, great info

    cheers
    adam

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      Thanks, Adam!

      We have never bothered with permits for shooting at any of the locations we have shot at. There have been a few times we’ve asked permission if we knew that just shooting would get us kicked out immediately… but for street stuff we just do it.

      It helps to just look like you belong… well that helps no matter what you’re doing. People are hesitant to question someone who looks like they are doing nothing wrong. There are times we’ve been kicked out of locations… but typically that’s the worst things that happens.

      As for powering lighting on location… it depends on what we are doing. These shots were done with small strobes, so it was super easy (internal batteries). When on city streets that’s what we typically use. When in less populated areas and using the large lights (Alien Bees) we use a Vagabond II to power everything. It takes time to set up but it’s worth it for the power it outputs!

  • http://influxxmedia.blogspot.com adam

    I love the silent movie images. What a great theme, and perfectly executed. Old Town Orange really helped sell this concept. It looks great in b/w with the low key, long shadows etc.

    I wonder, did/do you bother with permits for shooting in the local cities? Have you experienced any problems, specifically, how do you power your lighting in public?

    Cheers for sharing your setups, great info

    cheers
    adam

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      Thanks, Adam!

      We have never bothered with permits for shooting at any of the locations we have shot at. There have been a few times we’ve asked permission if we knew that just shooting would get us kicked out immediately… but for street stuff we just do it.

      It helps to just look like you belong… well that helps no matter what you’re doing. People are hesitant to question someone who looks like they are doing nothing wrong. There are times we’ve been kicked out of locations… but typically that’s the worst things that happens.

      As for powering lighting on location… it depends on what we are doing. These shots were done with small strobes, so it was super easy (internal batteries). When on city streets that’s what we typically use. When in less populated areas and using the large lights (Alien Bees) we use a Vagabond II to power everything. It takes time to set up but it’s worth it for the power it outputs!

  • http://influxxmedia.blogspot.com/ adam

    Thanks for the detailed reply Vu, great info and good to know.

    Having worked with video lighting, that is continuous and not a strobe we had to always lug a generator around which is far from inconspicuous :) I imagine the strobes have lesser power requirements and can use rechargeable (guessing here) batteries that make them really versatile.

    cheers again

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      Yes the power requirements are much less… and it’s a lot less heavy as well!

      All our video lighting we do with small lights (LED power) or on AC. We haven’t done any large location lighting yet!

  • http://influxxmedia.blogspot.com adam

    Thanks for the detailed reply Vu, great info and good to know.

    Having worked with video lighting, that is continuous and not a strobe we had to always lug a generator around which is far from inconspicuous :) I imagine the strobes have lesser power requirements and can use rechargeable (guessing here) batteries that make them really versatile.

    cheers again

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      Yes the power requirements are much less… and it’s a lot less heavy as well!

      All our video lighting we do with small lights (LED power) or on AC. We haven’t done any large location lighting yet!

  • http://www.cameracruise.com/blog Carl Reid

    These shots are awesome. But more importantly thanks for showing us the way. Keep inspiring us Photogs!!!

  • http://www.cameracruise.com/blog Carl Reid

    These shots are awesome. But more importantly thanks for showing us the way. Keep inspiring us Photogs!!!

  • http://www.manaloempire.com/ Lucy M

    Loves it!!! Ohhh!!!

  • http://www.manaloempire.com Lucy M

    Loves it!!! Ohhh!!!

  • Ellis

    I love these shots. Great job guys. You make this look easy.

  • Ellis

    I love these shots. Great job guys. You make this look easy.

  • http://zacuto.com/ Steve Weiss

    Love the silent movie shot, very creative and you really captured the silent film era look.

    • http://vubui.com/ vubui

      Thanks Steve! We were definitely trying. Tracie and Micah did a great job with his outfit and makeup.

  • http://zacuto.com Steve Weiss

    Love the silent movie shot, very creative and you really captured the silent film era look.

    • http://vubui.com vubui

      Thanks Steve! We were definitely trying. Tracie and Micah did a great job with his outfit and makeup.

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