Sunday, April 7, 2013

Projected Backgrounds

2009: This shot was  made for the cover of the San Mateo Adult School's Summer 2009 catalog of classes. I wanted to highlight some of the current programs in an interesting way. We had just purchased a digital projector, and I was looking for a way to use it in a photograph.

I wanted to show a relationship between the computer generated PowerPoint presentation and the projected image on the wall. I incorporated both visual elements, along with a computer student. I was trying for a "Rosie the Riveter" look, one that reflected a sense of accomplishment. 

To start, I turned off the room lights and made my first sketch shot. You can see that the LDC of the laptop computer and the projected image on a wall. Using Flash White Balance, the LCD is reasonably close, but the projected image is obviously brighter and carries a bit of a color cast.

That small glare spot is from the digital projector just below the lower edge of the frame. There isn't much you can do about it. I could have placed a prop beside the laptop to conceal it, had I noticed it.

I mounted an SB-800 on a boom and positioned it above the laptop. This illuminated the laptop without creating any glare. I darkened the projected image (somewhat) by taping a 77mm Polarizing Filter over the projector's lens, the only "neutral density" filter I had. The image was still bright and it had a green tint, but I didn't have any color correction (CC) gels, so I was forced to leave it the way it was. If I had noticed, I would have put a snoot (think cardboard tunnel) to concentrate the light on the laptop. You can see that some of the light spilled onto the far right hand side of the frame.

Here's a quick reminder: The shot only works with the house lights OFF. I left the lights on (accidentally) and you can see that nothing works.

For my main light, I positioned an SB-800 high and at camera left. I installed a blinder on the far side of the speed light to prevent any direct light from striking the the whiteboard or the flat screen of the laptop. In this shot, you can clearly see how the blinder prevents any light from striking the screen. I added my last SB-800 as a glancing fill from camera left. Here again is the final shot.

I was very pleased with the shot. Had I another SB-800 and a boom, I've have added an accent light above and behind my subject. It took about 2 hours to set up, as it was the first time I tried a shot this complicated.