18 September 2010
For the Photo Arts class at Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, I was working on a portrait project. I was making images of people and their machines -- in particular, people enthusiastic about their machines. That's where Mike enters the plan.
From the moment I thought of Mike and his bicycles, I saw him surrounded by them in his garage, so that's the image we set out to make.
Mike went about rolling bicycle after bicycle into the garage, and I found anything I could to prop them up and we eventually began suspending them from the ceiling at different levels using straps, cord, and rope. Some bikes are even lashed to others to keep them facing the right directions. We added his Park toolbox as a perch, then dropped the recumbent bike into the front of the scene. We had bikes top to bottom, and Mike neatly nestled among them.
Next I had to light the scene to accent the key parts. I worked from the back to the front building the lighting. To let the way background drop dark, we turned off the garage lights and worked by the light from the sky.
I dropped the 28-inch Westcott Apollo softbox half-way back into the scene and to the left. I pointed it at the background of bicycles, and found 1/8 power on the YN-460II to be enough to light the bikes. I used the softbox back there, so I could easily keep that background light from spilling into the foreground.
To light the foreground, that's Mike and the recumbent, I popped up another YN-460II shot through a white umbrella on the right side of the scene. 1/16 power was enough there to balance him with the background lighting.
I framed it up with the camera on the tripod, and Mike shifted through a couple comfortable poses, and finally we had the image that I wanted.
Once that was out of the way, Mike had a couple ideas of what he thought would make a good photo. For his stuff, I just lit it with the 2 strobes—the one in front of him in the softbox, and both at about 45 degrees for basic coverage.