Tutorial: Flinging Flour with Owen Lloyd
This was the second of 3 shots we did with the Lencarta SuperFast lights. This sort of shot is something you only get so many goes at: You run out of flour, coloured powder, and of course, eventually, the model is so covered in flour it changes the look of the images. Shooting continuously on high speed (well as fast as my D800E will go anyway – the lights will go faster) makes it all the more likely to get a usable frame from these sets.
This was the first time I’d attempted this shot, and while we got a few reasonable images – it’s not quite achieved the drama I want. I think I know why and I’ll come back to that at the end of this blog.
Lighting was very simple – one small beauty dish to camera right, with some fill from a gridded strip box to camera left – set up almost in cross-light formation, except the beauty dish on the right is around to the front by about a foot. I wanted to create some three dimensional structure to the flour and one light would give me some definite shadows. The main light is quite far away and so the light would have an edge to it as well as being quite even across the frame.
The idea was to have Keira adopt a powerful stance and stare down the camera, while Craig flung the flour at her back from stage left, and capture the impact. To make it a bit more interesting, I mixed in some deep red Holi powder into the flour. This stuff is made for the Holi festival of spring in India, where people fling this stufr at each other – all day. It’s basically rice flour with food colouring. It washes out but can stain white clothes used “neat”. I only needed enough colour to grab hold of later in Photoshop, so we mixed a weak blend.
One thing I learned from earlier flour shoots, is that it goes everywhere. So we made sure to remove everything that was not needed away from the set. I wrapped the lights in plastic sheets, both to keep the light clean and stop any potential sources of ignition coming into contact with the flour cloud. With the right density, powder clouds can produce powerful fireballs, and we didn’t want any of that on this shoot.
We fashioned a flour launch vehicle from a shoe box lid, and Craig threw it in from the side. I had the EyeFi card in the second slot in the camera transmitting small, basic jpeg’s to my laptop. Lightroom monitors the folder where they land and displays them as they come in. Here James, Garry and I review the shot at the top of this post.bNow I mentioned that this shot isn’t quite there yet and I think I figured out what is missing. I like to create things in the studio that cannot be done easily in Photoshop, and to me, although we have a great explosion of flour in this shot, it doesn’t really give the impression that it is hitting Keira and enveloping her. Check out Craig’s Glass-Eye view clip and you’ll see that it does. The solution, I think lies in the shooting angle. If we shoot this with the flour coming more form the back and towards camera, I think we’ll get a better sense that the model is in the flour, rather than “some flour you comped in afterwards in Photoshop”
I still like it though and Keira kept her eyes open – nerves of steel