Sanna and powder

I have mentioned before that I am putting together 10 images to submit for the first level of the Photographic Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) honours system. At the Licentitate level (LPSNZ) you are supposed to demonstrate proficiancy across a range of photographic styles. Quite often the photographers have used different genres to do this.

I have taken a slightly different approach in trying to show diversity of approach but within the same genre. This is risky but it stays true to my main area of photography.

I already have most of the images shot and are finishing it with two images that emply macro techniques. While normally used on flowers or insects I decided to employ the technique on faces.

I had seen a Lindsay Adler video where she had used coloured powder on a face and shot it up close. It was amazing so I sought to do the same. Sanna works part time at my work, and as she had very vivid eyes, I asked if she would help me.

The powder we used is the same as that used in the “Color Run” however its origins are with the Hindu Holi festival. It is a very fine cornstarch which is deadly on lens so we were taking no risks.

We shot in Sanna’s apartment with her sitting on a wooden stool. A large tarpolin was spread on the floor to ensure that none of the powder stains the carpet. I even bought a $2 t-shirt from a thrift store so that there was no risk I would ruin her clothes.

I had a single studio light with a gridded seven inch reflector to give me a very precise light. The camera was metered at f11. Given that it was a macro shot you have very little depth of field to play with so the camera was set on a try, and live view was used to focus to lens. As a final precaution the camera was set to self timer.

We started with shots without the powder to check that the exposure was right. The shadows on the original images were too dark so we positioned a large mirror to act as a reflector and fill them in a bit.

An initial shot to test exposure
An initial shot to test exposure

I started shooting with my original macro lens which is a Sigma 70-300mm that has a macro switch that can be set anywhere between 200-300mm. I was initially using this lens becasue it enabled me to shoot further away, and therefore avoid the risk of powder damage.

The problem is that the lens is very hard to sharply focus, and as we had placed rather than thrown the powder I decided to swap to my Nikon 105mm macro which is a much sharper lens.

sanna-3I was really pleased with the results. One thing that was quite surprizing was how black the background went. This was shot in a well light kitchen with windows on two sides, so to the huma eye is was quite well lit. But the camera set at 1/200s at f11 pretty much eliminated all ambient light.sanna-4

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