Hi, this is Jay P. Morgan. Today on The Slanted Lens I’m going to take you back to the days when we used to do all of our images in one shot. No Photoshop, no AI, none of that business. Everything had to be composed in the camera. Effects in the camera. Everything was suspended, no wires. So we’re going to show you exactly how we did this shot. Porter’s here to help me and he’s going to die if we don’t get going. So let’s take a look at how we did this shot.
So this is a go-to rig I’ve done a million times. This is a 2”x8”. It goes through the front and the back of the ladder. So the front, when you put weight on it, sits on the rung of the ladder in the front. And the back pulls up on the rung from behind. Now I’ve had A-frames, done this with A-frames before, and you have it go out so that their foot is kind of leaving the frame to cover the board. But in this case the board goes straight towards the camera. He lays or sits on this little seat up here and covers up the entire end of the board. And that covered up board hides this whole thing back here. We threw a bunch of plants in the front to hide the rig, the ladder and everything below it. We just got the plants from a home improvement store and this is one that we had in the yard here. We put it on top just to give it another layer to make sure we don’t see the top of the ladder. But a very simple system.So the one thing I did do to this is that I took a piece of one by material that’s the exact same width as the width of the ladder. I shot three screws into it and into this board. And now this board can’t move right and left. If you don’t do this, this board will swing right and left and the person on the other end feels really uncomfortable because it doesn’t feel very stable. So I put one here and I put one up here on the front of the ladder. So one on each side of the A-frame of the ladder. Now this board can’t go back and forth at all. So I put a little weight on the back of this ladder so that it won’t pull up. It didn’t take a lot because we’ve got spikes in the ground here that this ladder sits against. And we have a board on the front that moves all of the weight to the front of this board and keeps it from cantilevering. A little bit of weight back here. We threw the compressor on and a sandbag and that really kept, that was plenty of weight so this doesn’t lift up.
Now let’s look at that board. So this board is really critical because it is behind the bushes and when he puts weight on this it pushes this down and hits the ground. Now in order to lift the back of this you’ve got to lift everything off from this now. Which is only about 5 ft. And so you’ve got in the back, you’ve got more than 7 ft. And so it really makes it so it’s pretty, it’s impossible. This is a 2”x8”x12’. So impossible to lift that back the minute you put this board in. This board could have been back here further and would have been fine. But I just put it right behind the bushes and now it just gives us a great fulcrum point that cuts the cantilever down to 5 ft. Which makes it really easy. But the reason you don’t use a 5 ft board is because you can’t weight anything here. You got this way back there. It gives you a ton of distance back there to put weight in. You know, a 20 lb. back there is like 60 or 100 lb. up front here. I’m sure there’s a calculation for that but I’m not really a math guy. But I know that that cantilever, when you cut it down to here, 7 ft behind and 5 ft up front, it really makes it so it’s a lot of weight that it has to lift. So that board is pretty critical.
So if you don’t have a smoke machine I just take a fan. It could be a box fan, any fan you have at your house. And you throw flour through the back of it. If you throw flour in the front of it, it kind of poofs. But if you throw it in the back of it, it gives you a nice stream and it looks like smoke or dust or dirt as you hit the skateboard and kind of exploded as he was falling. So flour through a fan. I mean, if you can get Fuller’s Earth it’s awesome because it’s a tan color and it looks more like dirt. Flour is very white. But Fuller’s Earth is amazing. But just throw a little bit through that fan. And we kind of moved this forward because it was hitting him in the face. And so we let the smoke kind of come forward. It lays a layer in the front of the image with him in the back. And it makes it so he doesn’t have to get it in his face. So there’s an option for smoke.
My first camera, a beautiful Pentax ME with interchangeable lenses. And everything looked magical in that camera. It was fantasy land. And I thought, man if I could make a living doing this how crazy, fantasy! And then you know, to go and work with all the great artists that I have been working with is just, you know, incredible! So my advice for young photographers out there: find your voice. Find what it is you really want to tell the world with your art. Try not to copy everyone else. It’s okay to, like Mick Jagger said, it’s great to steal from other artists but make it your own like they did with all the great blues songs that the stones covered. Hey, I’m Rob Shanahan, I’m a drummer, a photographer and endorser of the SKB case. They get all my gear and my drums safely to where I need to go!
All right, what makes this work is this little seat situation. It’s a 2”x8” and that 2”x8” has a little seat that we’ve attached. We shot screws into this little piece of half inch plywood. And then that plywood’s got some foam wrapped on it. So Porter, talk about what you had to do to make this work. So it cleans everything up in the camera. So I had to be hanging off the edge here with my button-up shirt over this. So I’m hiding all the wood and I had to put my arms like this and my legs like that. And this just kills my back. And you had to slide over the side of this board so that the board doesn’t show underneath his legs. Yeah. So was it comfortable? No! How many times do you think you did it. I don’t know, a lot. Probably 50 to 100 actually. But it looked great. We got the flour coming in through the fans. We got him in position with his legs up and his hands up.
We have these glasses on fishing line. We used a green fishing line. It doesn’t show up as much as the clear. The clear just acts like fiber. It just shows the light and just explodes with light. So a darker, I wish we could have found a one pound brown fishing line. That’s my favorite because it just doesn’t show. It kind of just disappears. But we moved this back and forth to where we got it into the white part of the sky behind us there. And that made it so that the glasses, the line on the glasses disappeared.
So he took his hair and his mom teased his hair back and gave it just a little bit of lift. A little bit of mousse in it. Mousse, yeah, a little bit of mousse in so it sticks out. And then of course we had two fans down here blowing so it kind of blew his shirt back, blew his hair back a little bit just to give his hair a little bit of motion, a little bit of interest so it’s not going forward. Because everything’s in one shot he’s not actually jumping or running he’s just standing there. So the wind’s got to look like it’s blowing his hair back.
So to light this setup here I made it very simple. I wanted a rim light from behind. I warmed the rim light. A very standard thing that I do very often. I put it back. It’s an FJ200. I like these 200s. I’m traveling right now so it’s just nice to have a small compact strobe. So the FJ200 has a CTO on it and it just has a small reflector. And that’s going to give me a rim light. I was using the rim light of the sun itself for a long time until we lost that. Then we added the FJ200. On the camera left side here. I’ve got an octo box slightly behind Porter. It’s giving us a nice rim light on his face. And then I’m just opening and closing the shutter. I mean, sometimes I was at 1/200th of a second, almost wide open at like f/4. Well I wasn’t wide open, I was about f/4 or sometimes f/5.6. Because I want a little bit of depth of field. But I would go from 1/200th of a second down to 1/30th of a second.
Throwing the skateboard was hard because we’re just tossing the skateboard and throwing the flour. And we had to time that so the skateboard comes up, the flour blooms and gives us the image. So it was kind of difficult to get those to time right so I see both of those. But you know, in the days of film you didn’t have any other options. You couldn’t use it. You had to keep shooting till you got one that worked. And you didn’t know. You didn’t know. You had just keep shooting. That’s why we would shoot 100 sheets of 4”x5” film or 200 sheets of 4”x5” film until you feel felt like, okay, I think we’ve got it. Hey, let’s take a look at some of those images when I added that FJ200 as a rim light.
Two things I always did when I did a shot like this was, I would either put a pit like a pole vault pit underneath the person so if they did fall off they would land in that pit. Interestingly enough, I never had anyone fall off. But then I also would put a belt around their waist that would belt them to the structure. Some kind of belt or webbing or something we could secure. That would keep them from falling off. Tonight we just used a mattress that we had here. An old mattress so that if he did fall he would have something to fall into. And also it gave us something to throw the skateboard into.
So Porter, why do you want to be in a YouTube channel? Because it’s cool! Really? Yeah. So does that mean I’m cool? Yes! Well, there you have it from Porter. Okay Porter, well you did a great job. Thank you. Yep. You survived it. You got a great shot. And we’re going to make print from Saal Digital because we think you’ll have a great print you’ll want to put on your wall.
So as any good writer or director would, Sadie kept going, What is our story? What is our story? Sadie was in the background. She was reacting to Porter on his skateboard and she wanted to know what the story was. So she made it up. Here it is: So a kid named Porter went out to go skateboarding and he was skating along until he hit a rock that his little brother put on there. And he started flying everywhere. And everybody saw it. And it was crazy action going. There you have it, crazy action!
So let’s wrap this up. I love shooting like this. I did it for so many years back when we shot on film and everything had to be in a single shot. There was no retouching, nothing. Everything had to be resolved the effects and everything in a single image. So here’s how we did it. You’ll see more of this from us. I hope you enjoyed this. Here’s some other lessons that might interest you. So keep those cameras rollin’ and keep on clickin’! Yeah!