Lighting a model for a projector photoshoot is not as easy as you may think but well worth the time invested to achieve a rather different take on light falling on your Muse.
In the 1960’s John French photographed models with floral and 60s style patterns projected onto their bodies instead of clothes. These black and white prints represent the versatile and exciting possibilities that projections can offer artists and photographers.
I wanted to try projector photography and see if my own projector lighting mixed with some interesting projected screens was in fact as good as they say?
Modern projectors are digital and have LED bulbs and fairly sturdy to your mum and dads version with the lamp which would often break, however generally they have a low light output for capturing images and if purchasing you would need some basic bulb power.
With so many types of digital projectors out there which will be great for projector photography, how do you know if the one you have or plan to buy is the right option for you? There are a few things that you’ll need to consider including brightness, size, and definition. Brightness is essential so looking for a projector which has at least 3,500 Lumens. That way, your projected image will still be visible even when you’re working with a different light source if you plan to.
For my test, I chose to illuminate the model with only the projector light source. My Projector was purchased from amazon and was the VANKYO Performance V630 Native 1080P Full HD Projector, 6800 Lumens 300″ LED Projector which is reasonably bright and seemed to be perfect for what we were achieving
Now you don’t have enough light to shoot fast, but there are two ways to get around this.
You can use slower shutter speeds which of course limit how fast you can work with the model and of course use of a tripod is essential, or you can increase your camera’s ISO and speed up the shots, in turn, allows faster working. Higher ISO does tend to clean up the mids and highs of the image.
Best Images for Projection
Although you can technically use any graphics you really want, it can really be of benefit to use photos that don’t have too many distracting elements but has some negative space where you can place your model. Some awesome examples for a projected image include the skies, clouds, and open landscapes.
Patterns also work really well for a projected image. Placing a subject in front of the patterns would create distortions that look futuristic. You can try anything from graphic lines and shapes, and maybe clouds and flowers in fact it could be anything which allows for the contrast which you will need.
We chose for our projector lighting test a selection of grids rather like venetion blinds but also for our video some moving grids and graphic blocks.
Using your Projector for Best results
A studio with very little ambient light or darkened room of your choice is essential so as not to ruin your exposure. Any ambient light will be cumulative to your final exposures. It would help if you also had a plain wall, preferably white or light, so the image is projected. If you want a small projected image, place the projector at least four feet away from the wall. But if you desire a more significant projection, put it at least 8 feet or more. Remember that the farther away you are, the larger the screen.
Once you finish setting up your projector using supplied HDMI cables, the next step is to adjust the focus, which is located near the lens. First, turn on the device. Once the menu appears on the screen, change the focus dial as you would with a camera lens until everything is sharp. Now go to the Keystone dial and move it back and forth until the perspective of the screen looks straight.
Now that the screen is sharp and straight and your image looks sharp across it all, then plug your computer to an HDMI port. Use the projector’s buttons or the remote to access the menu and select HDMI to watch the screen of your computer appear on the wall behind.
Using your iPhone or Ipad to connect and preview patterns
We used our iPhone to connect to the HDMI port of the projector for projecting your projector photography images. Our experience was as our images to prject were loaded ino the photos section of the iPhone they were of a certain size and although this was great for headshots it was clear you would really need a large space to get a full length or even 3/4 length shot. The reason for this we worked out was purly down to the scren size of our device.
For our next attempt we would use the larger iPad for projection so that the image would be bigger and project larger, this would allow for a good standing shot, however if not it was plenty good enough for portraiture.
Some readings from the shoot will give you an idea before retouching how we set up shooting specs.
Lens was the 105mm
ISO was only 80, the large aperture of the 105 allowed this otherwise we could easily have been in excess of 400 ISO
Exposure was 1.6 seconds at F14 – Again the lens helped as did the higher power projector.
All images were handheld
Some Extra Information about Projector Photography
– Projectors can help to enhance your photography ideas and concepts for your portfolio
- They add a slightly different perspective on how you view light and subject.
– Easy way to add colour or pattern to your subject
- It can create avantgarde style concepts.
5 TIPS & IDEAS TO TRY
- Projecting Mexican masks onto a model face.
- Project text, shapes or graphic designs to create graphical bodywork onto the face.
- Great for illuminating the nude form, add some creative shapes to this for a more advance result.
- Projecting slideshows of images over the face, with slow shutter speed and creating motion blur exposures.
- Use moving graphics from YouTube to create animated sequences or even your psychedelic film like we did.