Traveling light- need a subject?

August 30, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Traveling Light- Need a subject?

Recently I needed to make a presentation featuring how to shape light to a small group. I really was not sure how many people were actually going to show up for this meeting, and even if one of the group would be willing to model, he/she could miss the information. My options were to bring a professional model or try to bring a life like manikin.  Funds were tight, and the full sized manikin did not quite fit into my light case.

I happened to like Halloween, so I had several foam heads in storage so I chose one which was relatively lifelike. I pulled a small lightstand out and hung an old shirt on it. It really did not work well for representing a human torso.

So I pulled and old wire coat hanger out of the closet (I could have just as easily used Craft Wire) as long as it was at least 18 gauge. I secured the hanger with some gaffers tape (non sticky) and molded a set of shoulders to give the subject some form. I buttoned my old shirt around the neck of the home made manikin, mounted the head on the light stand and a quick and easy subject was born (ok, the shoulders are uneven in the shot above). 

For my purposes and possibly anyone who is just testing out lights, this subject worked very well. I was able to find a flesh colored foam head, but a human face mask could have worked. White heads without human features tend not to work quite as well if one is trying to get a real feel for the exposure. Be careful not to spray paint a white wig foam head since the solvent in the spray paint will melt the foam!

Manikins can be expensive, with a plastic human appearing manikin starting at about $150 and above. Fiberglass manikins can often cost much more and articulating manikins can easily cost several hundred dollars and above. Full sized manikins can be bulky to move and painted manikins are prone to chipping. 

The next time you need a subject quickly or need to travel light yourself, give this project a try!




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