How to ruin a perfectly good shirt

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Older posts, Shoots in short

An empty chutney bottle at my home just begged to be put to a new use. And since I had been experimenting with high speed flash all week, it wasn’t long before the bottle got washed, the studio set up and ready for a stock shoot featuring myself as the unfortunate idiot.

I say idiot, because, in my infinite wisdom, I thought I’d mix some dishwashing liquid into the bottle with the food colouring – just to soften the blow on the shirt that no doubt was going to get splashed. Now that may have half saved the shirt, but the soap did what soaps do to your eyes. In case you were wondering, that grimace was not an act. It’s the real thing. It stung like hell.

Splashed - the series

The fun part of this shoot though was experimenting with the lighting – and more specifically, the trigger. I set up everything, checked levels, then switched off all the modelling lights on the Bowens heads, closed the blinds, darkened the room completely, and set a 3 second exposure on my D700. The camera was set to timer release to allow me to get into a pre-focused position. With a Pocket Wizard remote trigger held out of shot, I then waited for the timer release to open the shutter, squirted the bottle, then hit the Pocket Wizard trigger half a second later to pop the lights. This recorded a brief second of exposure, catching the fluid in the air, and in me in the eye.

I had only one shot at it, since I knew the first squirt would cover my shirt. A very gentle first attempt however missed my shirt and face, but made a huge mess of the floor. But because I now had my timing and positioning right, I went for it, and hit a bullseye on the next attempt. Mine.

The aftermath - from Photoshop to mop expert

This was the studio setup – a beauty dish on a boom as key light (f18), flanked by a softbox far right and grid spot corner left. The back lights were one stop hotter than the key light to put some cheekbone definition into the shot, and the black doors in the front were an attempt to keep some of the keylight output falling onto the backdrop, which I wanted to keep a shade of gray.

And the shirt? It made it, thankfully. Dishwasher helps.

  1. Stephanie Nieuwoudt says:

    Nice blog. hehehe

  2. Roxanne says:

    There’s no progress without experimentation. Thanks for the chuckle; ever thought of applying for a job with Leon Shuster?

  3. Isabelle Luker says:

    You certainly suffer for your art! Reminds me of something my mother used to say: “Shake and shake the ketchup bottle. First none will come, and then the lottle.”
    Have fun!

  4. This is brilliant Jaco; thanks for a good Friday chuckle. Did you get ethical clearance for experimenting with a human subject or did you suspend your human status for the occasion? It would appear to be the latter.

  5. Lebogang Ditshwene says:

    Great blog!!

    Love the facial expression in the last two shot!!

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