Making Zombies…

(Nikon D3x, 200ISO, Nikon 28-70mmF2.8@48mm. 1/30th@F6.3. Single 750Watt Studio light through a 60″ and 42″ umbrella on each side of the camera about 12 feet up. Single Dynalight 400JR set to 1/4th power fired by pocket wizard to low camera left. Single AlienBEE 400 Watt studio strobe set to 1/2 power from behind the crowd attacking the skaters from behind. Single 400watt AlienBEE studio strobe bare bulb to camera right set to 1/4th power fired by magic eye).

Despite ‘South Park’s’ bold statement that Worcestershire sauce being the only way you make zombies; last September for the 2010 Naptown Roller Girls calendar I attempted to make my own. With several hours ahead of us, myself and some very talented people got together at the Roller Derby Practice space here in Indianapolis with about 15 volunteers and skaters to play with a little blood…..

The blood didn’t exactly wash off, and we didn’t know that at first. Everyone stood outside against a white wall where we had sort of a zombie assembly line. Inside two people worked face makeup, and applied a little bit of the edibile face blood; while outside we just splattered blood everywhere in an attempt to make everyone look like they had just come out of a Rambo movie. At one point. one of the girls decided to wash her hands after using the bathroom to discover that the blood didn’t wash off. When she came out in a panic appropriately my response was; “Zombies don’t wash their hands…”. It was a wild idea for a shoot, we wanted to incorporate all of the volunteers into a shoot for the calendar this year, as the volunteers really do help make the league what it is today. What a better way to thank everyone, by covering them in blood, and working them in a cold space for 6 hours with he promise of some pizza at the end. Zombies eating pizza? Brilliant.

The shoot was WILD. The space we were in might as well be a black hole for light. If there was a way to install the sun indoors, we probably try just to give all the girls a little sun. It was so incredibly dark that it took an 8 light setup in order for us to get enough light just to expose the scene at F8 125ISO.. The basic setup for one of the shots is shown here:

That setup was the setup for one of the shots, with a wide surround of back lights while one even farther back popped everyone as kind of a key light. It started me out at a very even lighting, which I could then shape as necessary. Sometimes it’s easier to light even and ten form, other times it’s easier to cut away at the darkness. In this case I wanted to see everything, and then remove as I went, which after post processing gave us this shot here:

(With an 8 shot setup I’m going to leave the lighting for guesswork. If there’s a big inquiry it can bea nother blog and I’ll diagram it out, but the punchline is Nikon D3x, 100ISO 1/40th@F8. 8 Lights).

Anybody who’s read my blog knows that this style of post processing isn’t my thing. I guess it goes back to one of my New Years resolutions to try new things with my photography. These were not processed before the calendar was released, I revisited the shoot for this blog entry because I wanted to play around more with these things before potentially putting them into practice on my own. Not to say some of my shots haven’t been re-worked like this; I just wasn’t the one that did it.

I Loved the idea of the zombies, and next year I have something pretty solid planned for the big group photo but we’ll just keep that under wraps for now, as I’ve got a few things to pitch to the league’s board before we get started. Thanks to Mike Guio, Tom Klubens, Jason Pittman, Michelle Pemberton, Melissa Brooks, Megan Gill, and Heather Burdette for all of their help in making that crazy Saturday work the way it did. Everybody was a trooper (especially the ones where the blood didn’t come off).

(Nikon D3x, 160ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-F4.5@18mm. 1/30th@F9. Single 750Watt Studio light through a 60″ and 42″ umbrella on each side of the skaters on top of the platform. Single Dynalight 400JR set to 1/4th power fired by pocket wizard to low camera left to add fill to the front of the platform, Single AlienBEE 400 Watt studio strobe set to 1/8th from above behind camera for depth on the hands. Single AlienBEE 400 Watt Studio Strobe to camera right bare bulb set to 1/4th to camera right about 40 feet back as a side fill. I’m not sure this last one made a difference, but it is in my notes so I’ll put it in here.)

The problem with a lot of the shots that the skates weren’t as visible in the images as we all would have hoped. Considering this is for a Roller Derby Calendar the skates were somewhat of an important visual. The shot we chose was pretty close to straight out of camera, which is the style that I like. There are more photos posted on my facebook Photo Fan page here. Leave some comments if you wouldn’t mind; let me know what you think about the excess post processing. The final shot that was in the calendar is the last image in this post. Thanks in advance and as usual; More Soon. 🙂

(Nikon D3x, 100ISO, Nikon 18-35mmF3.5-F4.5@21mm. 1/30th@F9. Single 750Watt studio light with a 60″ umbrella above camera right set to 1/2 power fired by pocket wizard. Single 750 Watt Studio light to low camera left fired through a 42″ umbrella set to 1/4th power fired by pocket wizard. Single Dynalight 400JR bare bulb fired by eye sensor to behind the crowd left set to 1/8th power. Two Snooted Dynalight 400JR’s set to full power fired by Pocket wizard on the ground to cash shadows of a few zombies that I separated from the pack for that purpose.)