Welcome to Kerri’s Neighborhood Bike Shop! Kerri’s a good friend of mine who’s been a bike mechanic for many years now cranking it out at a local shop and finally decided to give it a go on her own. I don’t know a lot about bikes (but hey, what do you expect from a native southern Californian?) but I know Kerri knows her stuff. Whatever you need done to get your rig riding smooth, Kerri GOTchu! Flat tire? Kerri GOTchu! Broken chain? Kerri GOTchu! Tune-up? Yup, Kerri GOTchu! Anyone know who Milky J is? Ah nevermind….
So I’ve been offering to photograph Kerri for awhile now and she’s been VERY reluctant. After a hefty amount of pathetic groveling, she finally felt sorry enough to let me come over and take a few shots. I had it all planned out already and I was gonna kick it out quick. What’s that saying though? The best laid plans…
I knew lighting the place wasn’t going to be easy. But I’ve been there many times and I already had an idea. I knew the shop had a couple windows that I wanted to try shooting some flash through. Well, that idea went proverbially out the window immediately because I couldn’t get access to place my flashes on someone else’s property. Didn’t realize this and I wasn’t sure what to try next. The shop is pretty small and it’s full of bikes, as you might expect for a busy bike mechanic, so softboxes were out of the question…just not enough room.
I decided a shoot thru umbrella would be my next option…just kinda go for the blanket of light. But there’s a lot of shiny bike parts all over the place, and the highlights off of them were pretty distracting. I decided to hang a white sheet to create a bigger, softer diffused light source (so that’s a shoot thru umbrella going through a big white sheet hanging from the rafters) but I still wasn’t satisfied with the way it was looking.
Pretty boring. I was trying to balance that sunlight coming in through the side door, too. But it was still boring. Kerri had to run an errand so I decided to take advantage and switch it up. Broke out the beauty dish with a grid and set it up just in front of where the above shot was taken. Then put another gridded flash outside the door. I felt like this is where I should’ve started once the window idea became impossible and I thought it was already looking 100 times better.
And I even got the sun in there! But Kerri was gone and it wouldn’t be staying there very long. Bummer. Oh well. She wasn’t too excited about posing for any photos anyway (although she did as you’ll see 🙂 ) She got back, though, and I was still liking the feel…
I don’t know if she was making a concerted effort not to face me…I guess when your workbench has all the tools it’s as good excuse as any…but I still liked the more nuanced light and how it was shaping her in the clutter. Essentially the beauty dish was giving the workbench area fill light and the flash out the door was defining her left side. But before I forget here’s the ambient exposure (i.e., without flashes).
You can see how balancing the light on the door (and more importantly that little bike ornament) with the darkness of the opposite corner wasn’t going to be possible without flash.
Anyway, I was really liking the setup I had and I think it paid off with this shot. It’s my favorite of the session.
Give it a click for the larger version.
All in all, I think it went good considering who…er…I mean, what I was dealing with. I mean, whenever you have a tight space, reflective surfaces, and an overall challenging lighting situation, you’re shooting for acceptable. And I like to believe you’ll get much better shots of people in their own space, rather than taking them into a field of tall grass, hanging out on the train tracks, against a brick wall, or any other of the cliches you see so often in portraiture. Doing it this way is challenging and it makes me a better photographer.
Finally, here’s the photo she’s just gonna hate me showing, you know, cause it actually shows her. I added a gridded flash camera left as a key to get a good exposure on her face.
That’s about it. I have to thank Kerri a bunch for finally caving in and letting me come over. Of course, her favorites are the photos she’s not actually in. And you might think that’s discouraging for me, but I’ve found it to be pretty typical of good looking people who aren’t models. So self-conscious! With absolutely no reason to be.
Oh, and remember, if you need any type of work on your bike, whatever it is….Kerri GOTchu!!!