Battle of the bands. That was the directive. So began my brainstorming again. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon with guitars and violins? A foot on an effects pedal? Silhouettes of performers on stage? A burning guitar?
In the end, the decision was made and we decided to burn an old guitar. I decided I wanted to shoot at sunset as we were trying to keep it colourful. My idea basically to set fire to the guitar and have our model musician looking off into the sunset. So, one afternoon myself and a few others assembled on a rooftop in Seoul to do just that.
When I arrived, an angle grinder was also presented to me, and ideas began to flow again. We decided to perhaps incorporate this, and some jumping into some of the shots. So, an exposure test or two later and it was jumping time.
All agreed that a jump was going to look good. So our next step was to prepare the guitar and the safety equipment for a little burning. We setup a softbox to camera left to light the guitar. We could have used a bare strobe, but to prevent the light shooting every which way, I decided to put it in the softbox. I would like to say that the power was around 1/2, or maybe a quarter. My exposure was 1/200 of a second at f/8. We took a couple of tests here to see how the exposure was looking. We knew we were only going to get one shot, and it had to be right. Here’s the result.
It gave a nice shape to the left side of the guitar, but on the camera back the wall in the background was getting a little dark and the guitar was fading into it too much. So, Mr. Hemsey (who was assisting on the day) and I, decided a second flash to light the background and separate things more was in order. That was a bare flash placed to camera right, and aimed at the wall in the background. Here’s the difference.
Note the brighter background and rim-light on the right of the guitar. As we prepared all of this, blankets were being wet, water bottles and fire-extinguishers prepared, and of course the riff to be played by our jumper was being practiced. The soundtrack for the evening was Cubanate, a great industrial band. Once it was all prepared, I lay down and got my frame ready. Then we had three people douse the guitar in lighter fluid (as it burns and evaporates quickly), and the jumper get ready for action.
Then it was all on. After a few failed attempts to light the fluid, it finally caught and we got 3 jumps over 11 seconds before throwing the fire blanket over the guitar and reviewing the shots. We had it. Some were happy, and some were jumping for joy, in the literal sense.
We also did something else a little different this time around. We shot a video of the shoot on the iPhone 4, and edited it on the train ride home using the iPhone.