First thing that came to my mind for this shoot was “I should get a lightmeter.”
Taking this shot of world-renowned cosplayer Yuegene as Kaneki from Tokyo Ghoul made me realize how important metering in the dark is. I am convinced that shooting “blindly” to meter for background and then to subject can be a time-consuming process. From what I understand, a lightmeter can help shorten that duration, and above all, looks more professional.
This also happened to be my first time doing a shoot utilizing a tripod because “I have to”. I usually use a tripod to do tests or shoot without one for my night photography.
For those who love tech talk, the settings for this shot are:
Shutter: 1/6 sec (this is the reason why I needed a tripod)
Focal length: 130mm (on the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM with IS on)
Aperture: f/14 (because I needed to keep things sharp)
The shutter speed is set as such because I wanted to get as much light as I could from the window lights in the city in the background. The ISO was a cause for concern as it could get pretty noisy but thank goodness for the 5D Mark III’s full-frame goodness, ability to handle lowlight and Lightroom, noise wasn’t much of an issue. It was still a little grainy but I had it fixed in post.
My bigger concern was losing details to overblown highlights and dark shadows . As it is, the shadows here are pretty much too dark for my liking initially but after a bit of tinkering, I thought hey that works – it created a bit of drama in the image.
Here’s Kaneki walking down the streets with the city in the back, and he pulls off his hood to reveal his face with part of it still in the shadows.
I could have used the Macro 100mm f2.8L IS but at this juncture, speed was everything and the 100mm wasn’t ‘fast enough’ at focusing in the dark, even with a helpful focusing light thanks to an assistant. In fact, most of the time, it was struggling to find its mark. It got frustrating.
Furthermore, with the 70-200, the image would have a ‘flatter’ feel to it, which is what I wanted.
A Canon 580 EXII provides a backlight to separate Yuegene from the background and one of my Bowens Gemini Esprit GM500 with an octobox was placed to the right of her to act as a keylight. A reflector on her left provided the fill required with light falling in from both the speedlight in the back and the keylight itself.
Overall, this was a really fun shot to get done and Yuegene approves of it (which is really important to me, considering how big of a following she has).
Anyway, I might be looking into one of the Sekonic lightmeters soon. Maybe something with a touch screen or back LEDs so I can work it in the darkness of the night.
See more of my collaboration with Yuegene at my Facebook page: Tokyo Ghoul’s Kaneki Ken feat. Yuegene Fay