Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fun with Low-Key Monochrome

I was in a creative mood today, so I decided to try something interesting. Before I go any further with this post, I've realized that I need to explain what "Assassin" is, which will both help this photo make a lot more sense, and explain the title of the photo from this post.

Assassin is a game being played at my school by about 70 people right now. Essentially, we are given a "target" by the person running the show, and our job is to eliminate that target using a whisk. Then we report our kill, and receive a new target. We are also being constantly hunted by someone else, but we are not told who. I always need to be watching my back. Last man standing wins $50. It's a blast.

Anyway, I decided to take somewhat of a satirical picture showing what might happen to us all psychologically in the long run.

click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr
Aperture: f/5.6
Shutter Speed: 0.6 seconds
ISO: 100
Focal Length: 42mm

The lighting and setup for this shot was ridiculously complicated. I used three separate desk lamps, each with a custom-shaped DIY snoot. One was about 10 feet to the left of the camera, about the height of my head, pointing at my face and the chair. That light provided the illumination on the right side of my face. There was another one just to the left of the camera, barely above the level of the table, and pointing slightly up. That one provided the illumination on my right hand and the wire whisk. The last light was on the right side of the camera, higher up, lighting the back-right corner of the table, which provided most of the ambient light as well. Other than those three directional desk lamps, the room was pitch black.

The "beverage" was actually just water with green food coloring. I chose green because there was no other green anywhere else in the shot, so I figured it would give me very independent control over the tone of the liquid. That idea worked out nicely.

I'm extremely pleased with the way the lights behaved. It took a lot of effort and experimentation. I had no assistant, which meant I was stuck with guessing at pre-focusing, setting the self-timer, hitting the shutter release, running to the chair and posing, then checking out the results. Then I would tweak the lighting slightly, rinse, and repeat. In the end though, it paid off. It's nice when plans come together perfectly, with the lighting, pre-planning of drink color, etc. for post processing, and everything else that went into the creation of this shot.


  1. Awesome! I think you need to make this your new profile pic!

  2. I didn't think your dad and mom kept that kind of stuff around the house. I'm surprised. But it's probably just for cooking. ;)

  3. This shot is brilliant. I love it!!! Excellent lighting for that dramatic noir "scarface" feel to it! Very nicely done! Your b/w tones are spot on - very true blacks and whites with excellent contrast and shadows.

    Reminds me of the show "community" - if you watch it, last week's episode was a paintball last-man standing game for a coveted prize. It was a satire of every disaster/warfare/action adventure movie!

  4. I love the lighting as well. I find the photo very humorous with the type of drink, and the whisk. It looks like a very serious moment to I see these utensils. Great work!


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