In July 2010 I had an assignment to photograph a forensic officer down at the local Midland Police station. Straight away I’m thinking of a shot that looked like something you would see in the police labs of the TV show CSI Miami, however one thing I was told in my early days at Community was to not prepare for a certain shot just incase it doesn’t happen.
Journalist Nic Harrison attended the assignment with me to interview First Class Constable Jason Bertolini of the East Metro District Forensic Investigation Office.
After Nic’s interview with Bertolini, we were shown a room where they tested evidence in for a possible photo location. It didn’t give me any instant inspiration and my idea of a CSI Miami look was fading away fast. With some quick thinking I asked Bertolini if he could grab some cotton swabs after running through the idea of him looking as if he is about to obtain a sample of something with the swabs as I laid on the ground shooting up at him.
While he went to grab the swabs I setup two 550EX units on stands, each fitted with a coloured gel (red and blue). These were then positioned so they would fire towards the ceiling lighting it up in different colours.
Lighting the detective however was a tricky thing as none of my light stands would go low enough, and firing a straight flash at him was not an option. When the detective returned I tried various bounce flash techniques, but none of effects suited the shot.
I then recalled a flash technique I had used in a previous shoot a month prior when faced with the same dilemma. I had placed a translucent umbrella on the ground, and using my umbrella attachment for the stand I hung the flash upside down on it.
From the above shoot I figured out I could have simply put the flash on some flash feet on the floor and firing it upwards would have achieved the same effect, so when it came to this shoot with the Bertolini I did exactly that. Fitted to the flash on this occasion was a ¼ CTO gel that produced a soft warm light when shot through the umbrella.
Looking back at my photos from this shoot, I was quite surprised to see this was the first photo I took of the detective with the final light setup. We tried some others shots without the mask, as well as him holding a cigarette butt with some tweezers but the first swab shots were the winners.
Shoot Details :
Canon EOS 5D Mk2
16-35mm f/2.8L USM
1/400th @ f/8 – 200 ISO
2 x 550EX flash units with Honl coloured gels
1 x 580EX flash unit with Honl 1/4 CTO correction gel
PocketWizard TT1 and 3 x TT5
Manfrotto light stands