My photography was born in darkness. In all my earliest experiences with a camera, from night shooting to low light enclosed spaces, light was never my friend. As a result, I became adept at strange talents like shooting handheld at 1/6 of a second. Or turning any random object into a improvised “tripod”. Years later, I am established at my craft and the lighting company, Rotolight, reached out to me about using their AEOS lighting kit. I was about to embark on an unforeseen and illuminating experience. I received two large boxes in the mail, and the first thought was how am I possibly lugging all this gear into an abandoned location? Being able to be nimble, and hands-free is a necessity. One daunting location had two Rottweilers roaming the grounds of the property. Hearing them bark as you are capturing portraits of a model made me a believer in being lightweight with my camera equipment. Yet, once unboxed the entire system fit into a black square case, no bigger than a large laptop- with handles no less. As the afternoon sun set we entered the abandoned school. Ashley, my model, my friend and fellow photographer, Rick, and I mused at the possibilities within. We headed for the second floor and its many forsaken classrooms. We found our favorite one. Soon all was set but my inexperience with external lighting caught up with me. I mistakenly placed the light facing our model. The images looked flat and boring. We then tilted the light to her side combining and actually aiding the ever decreasing natural light. By utilizing the temperature control dials, I was able to increase and decrease till I found the perfect amount. Furthermore, I observed how the shadows fell on her face, crucial to side lighting. After all was calibrated, the results were spectacular. (See image above - Sony a7 riii SonyFE 55mm | iso 100 | f 2.8 | 1/160)
Day two brought even more success and importantly, knowledge on how to properly use artificial lighting. Myself, Rebecca, my model, and Jason my friend and photographer, arrived at the abandoned hospital at sunrise. All was still as we maneuvered our way inside. We found our way to a lengthy hallway. Garish colored paint was peeling off the walls and doors around us, a perfect location for our shoot. I unfolded the tripod and placed it behind the bend of the hallway. In addition the sturdy tripod was able to extend fully and shine the light to and even above her head! And when warranted, two practical hand grips allow one to dismount the light and go handheld as needed. We illuminated the ochre wall, the light giving life to the decay around us. Furthermore, we partly lit these astounding rays of light beaming through the window (I had used artificial smoke to create them). Rebecca entered the frame and we knew we had struck photographic gold! (See image below - Sony a7 riii Sony FE 55mm | iso 100 | f 1.8 | 1/640 secs) I was now curious as to the impact of the overall aesthetic of the image, WITHOUT the use of the AEOS light. I swiftly ran across the passage and turned off the light. I asked Rebecca to continue with that very same pose. I pressed the trigger. Looking through the viewfinder, the difference was noticeable. The image was not the same. Most noticeably was the loss of possibly the most dynamic element of the photo; the lightbeams! The potency was lessened. In addition, the wall behind Rebecca had also darkened greatly. She was now immersed in the inky blackness of the hospital. The darkness now the featured characteristic of the image.
As I began the drive home, I pondered on the weekends experience. Overall I was greatly satisfied on two pivotal points. First, I realized that although I photograph in challenging sites, the AEOS lighting kit can be easily be brought and utilized. The battery life was strong. It kept the device going for the two day shoot with no charging! And as stated earlier, the compactness of the system was another strong attribute, for my type of locations. Second, although I had never valued artificial lighting in the settings I am accustomed to, the added source of light had a definate impact on the photographic results. All the images had an extra layer of awesomeness. With further usage I envision only a greater impact as I become more familiar with all its components. The high speed sync flash, and the colored filters to be placed over the light are two examples of other features which I am eager to try for the next shoot.