A challenge. A shower. An odd dude & a leaf shutter.

This one's a little different...

The story goes like this: it's winter, it's sucky, it's boring.  One day I'm reading Robert Boyer's blog and he's just begun posting this great lighting series. So I decide to experiment with some of the ideas — lighting, processing, whatev. Because you know... It's winter and it's sucky, bla, bla, bla.

Along comes Robert — who's also feeling the doldrums despite his aforementioned series — and apparently MY stuff turns out giving HIM a kick in the pants; and so he starts shooting and posting like a madman. I like his stuff, he likes my stuff; I comment on his blog, he comments on mine. It's all good until one day, out of nowhere — and must I say, absolutely unprovoked — he throws this challenge out there: "Take that LaRoque - let’s see what you make next."

Pfff. Dem's fightin' words.

Thing is though, I knew I needed an angle of some sort. Robert is a lighting encyclopedia and his photography is very slick. Beautiful, sultry stuff. And then it dawned on me: I'm going to jump in the shower. Yeah. No way he's attempting THAT.

Ok, to be honest its something I'd been wanting to do for some time; I like the idea of a confined space coupled with the chaotic nature of water and movement. I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to do it without looking too crazy. To pull off what I had in mind I needed to achieve two things: 1) freeze everything as much as possible and 2) make that water look like diamonds. So: high shutter speed + strobes meant leaf shutter: enter the X100. Getting the water to sparkle and give out a 3D look meant backlighting it in some way: enter speedlight. The paint in the bathroom is shiny and I knew I could play with that to create a natural separation from a single light source. Add it all up and I could keep things simple.

Final setup:

  • X100 on tripod set to 1/1000s, f/11 at ISO 200.
  • Elinchrom BX500ri strobe in a medium softbox with the bottom of it just shooting over my head. Placed straight on camera angle.
  • A single bare SB-800 clamped to the shower curtain rod, high camera left. Hugging the wall and aimed over my shoulder.
  • The key strobe triggered via Skyport and the speedlight via good ol' SU-4.

I did a few test shots to make sure the water looked the way I wanted it to and in I went, throwing dignity to the wind.

I took four frames.
Then it dawned on me that my feet were in water, the shower head was spraying willy-nilly, slowly turning the room into a swimming pool — and all of this with a nice big AC powered strobe standing right smack in the middle of it. I had a vision of a Petapixel.com headline in my mind: Darwin Award - Photographer Electrocuted while Shooting Self-Portrait in Shower. Time to stop this nonsense.

I had used an Eye-Fi card so I left everything in place, dried myself and went down to the studio to see the shots. Those four frames are all in this post. I think it worked out pretty well for an intense 3 minutes session. I spent more time trying to cram everything in our small bathroom and setting everything up than firing the camera. But given my predicament, those few minutes were plenty, thank you very much ;)

So now for the question on everyone's mind: was he wearing pants? Ha! I'm not tellin'... Dr Boyer? Paging Dr Boyer?

P.S @RB: I'm quite aware that I'll be completely and utterly toast If you manage to convince one of your beautiful models to hit the shower...