Alex Minkin Stormtrooper Barbecue
Actually, i'm just about the right height. Not that I'm considering a career change or anything, but being the goon in full armor is pretty cool. Figuratively at least, because plastic armor and a full body suit make for one sweaty photographer. But I've never had more fun on a shoot than with this. More after the jump.

Costume rentals are starting to be the dominating feature of my budget when it comes to doing my independent shoots. But wardrobe has always been a hard to find item, and is usually the one thing I've had to rely completely on my models to provide for themselves.

But rental shops can be hard to find sometimes. One that was very close to where I work went out of business years before I even picked up a camera. Now, my nearest reliable source is a 45 minute drive each way. Worthwhile for big concepts, but combined with the price (stormtrooper armor is $100 for up to a 3 day rental), it's something that needs to be planned out a bit more in advance.

But as you may have seen, I sometimes neglect to plan things entirely out. Like the fact I was lacking both a blaster and the right boots. I ended up wearing some Nike's (ironic since Adidas made licensed Star Wars shoes) and ski boot liners. Neither was a perfect match, but the ski liners ended up being acceptable. Improvisation is an important skill in photography, and I seem to inadvertently test myself rather frequently.

Alex Minkin Stormtrooper 1
But mismatched shoes aside, there was one major issue in shooting this piece specifically. It's white. All white. And I wanted to shoot it on a white background. Holding the edges on the lit side proved exceedingly difficult, the thigh and calf nearly disappeared into the background.

I did get to try a light modifier I under-utilized at school and never had the chance to use at home. The PCB Parabolic, basically a giant 6' odd silver bounce umbrella with a giant diffusion panel. Huge, soft light close up look absolutely gorgeous, and nothing is bigger than this. It's super even since it's bouncing from the light to the back of the mod before it hits the diffusion, unlike a giant softbox which has a hotspot and quick falloff. This is definitely a great mod to use for full length shots.

My old modifier of choice was the PCB Giant softbox, which you could fit two or three people standing up inside. But with the aforementioned hotspots and falloff, it made full lengths difficult sometimes. Light would falloff at either the head or feet, and since an unlit head doesn't do a portrait photographer any good, legs and feet were usually neglected and shifted in color temperature. The new PCB Parabolic doesn't seem to have that problem as much.

I do still miss the Profotos a little bit, especially for commercial work, but now I'm finding that I'm also missing the C-Stands we kept in the commercial bays. They're ultra-sturdy, stable, and support a lot of weight. Even my heavy duty stands bend when they have a boom arm and a small softbox, and I've had two try to take a dive already. But no more new equipment till the big move to LA.

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