This Lockdown weekend I built a tent in our Exeter back garden. I’ve got loads of tents but I’d been meaning to do this for a while.
If you’ve been following, the weekend before we had ‘recreated’ a famous photo, a few friends have been doing this in lockdown and frankly the 1.7k likes on a Facebook page seemed to imply people were amused by it so, why not do it again?
Having researched some images I found one that looked fun to attempt and was utterly knocked out to find that the shot of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis (for Donna Karan) had been shot by (my hero) Peter Lindbergh.
The ethos of the Facebook posts is that the images are created with what one can find at home. As I mentioned last week although I have a lot of studio equipment both at home and in the studio, building the tent out of old theatre backdrops seemed more in keeping with the spirit of the page.
Lindbergh understood the beauty of natural light and how to harness it for beauty shots. His passing was announced last year on Instagram with an empty set, this set was typical of Lindbergh, basically a massive tent often on a beach but on occasions on the top of New York towers. Our garden isn’t massive, I don’t have acres of cloth but, with a few light stands and four backdrops we had a mini set. Annoyingly our garden points the wrong way so there was a limited window of opportunity.
And then, the moment I looked at Karin through the lens I though wow, this really is a fantastic low tech way to light beauty!
The photo we were looking to recreate was of a couple, it’s not easy being the subject and the photographer at the same time, I’m not great at the multi-channel stuff, but with the camera of a tripod and a wireless trigger it’s doable and we managed it! However I took a few images at the end of the session with Karin on her own and me behind the camera which was great. I would love to have the space to do this again, properly, that’s not to say I am not utterly pleased with these images.
So, what’s going on with the light here? Natural light is great but varies with weather and throughout the day, clearly it can be harsh and unforgiving particularly around noon. But step into the (open) shade a bit under a tree or in a doorway and you will get a much softer light. Most people will have seen photographers use white reflectors but few realise that these selectors can also be made black for what is known as negative fill, the tent gives a great negative fill which helps ‘sculpt’ the light and the ability to create open shade. Lindbergh’s tent was sometimes open at the back, often with a dark scrim as can be seen on the Instagram post but he also closed it. Although much, much larger than this Lindbergh’s sets are about the beauty and light.
I will revisit this happily but as mentioned this was another fun Lockdown weekend in Exeter!