Boundaries Project. Part 3 / by Neil Alexander

So I finally managed to get the permission I needed to stage the next shoot for my Boundaries Project. I wanted to stage an Arson attempt, and I had in mind the clubhouse of the local tennis club. In keeping with the theme, and just to make it that bit harder for myself, I wanted to do this at night too. I’d arranged with the fantastic Patrick, to meet at the club around 9, so I got there an hour before to survey and set up. I started by taking a few test shots with my new EP-1 to try and get some idea how I should compose the frame, bearing in mind that the last time I’d been here was as a child many moons ago. I’d remembered the layout pretty clearly, but some fairly major alterations had taken place since, so it was just as well I’d got there so early! I decided that I wanted the basic composition to appear like this:-

Once I’d surveyed the scene and decided on my composition, I then had to figure out how to light it all. I had to contend with a whole barrage of unpredictable security lights and motion sensors skirted all around the outside of the clubhouse. I decided that I could use one of the security lights to my advantage, but the rest created too much light, or lit parts of the scene that I wanted to stay dark. By using the floodlight on the front of the clubhouse, it nicely lit the middle part of the scene, so I then had to work out how to light Patrick. I also wanted to highlight the jerry can that he’d brought along, as this was a principal part of the final scene. After quite a bit of farting around, I concluded that the best spot to place lights to light Pat & the can was to tuck them just behind the wall at the end of the front of the clubhouse. Setting them up after that was a little of a challenge. As I moved around, I kept triggering security lights, and then seconds later I would be plunged into absolute darkness as they timed out and switched off again, and my eyes re-adjusted. The solution was to move the gear away from the sensors, and piece it all together in the pitch black. Which I’m quite pleased to say that I managed without too much cursing. Connecting pc-sync cords and tricky hot shoe mounts in the dark is quite an art! So in the end, I set up one SB900 on a stand set at F2.8 1/32 power. Set quite high up and pointing straight down at the jerry can. For some frames, about 3 feet to the right, I placed another SB900 and used this as a key to light Pat, but for this particular frame it wasn't used. I placed the camera on a tripod at the far end of the building and using a cheapo wireless remote, to trigger the camera which in turn fired the strobes via Pocket Wizards. Camera was set to 1/4 sec F2.8 ISO200. I put the remote on the camera so that I could adjust the positioning and the level of light from the strobes whilst Pat moved around - I didn’t want to be running up and down the front of the clubhouse all night!

Anyway, all in all I'm quite pleased with the final image, and I think its a keeper for the project.