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Author Topic: Ideas and Thoughts - Renaissance Photography Concession  (Read 2154 times)
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So, it is with no small amount of pride that I announce that a friend and I have landed the contract for "Ye King's Royal Photographers" for King Richard's Faire, the largest Renaissance and folk festival in New England.   Suffice to say, this is a huge win, and I will be working with people who know me and my limitations well.  Twenty hours a week, I will probably be able to manage.  I have backup if I can't.

We are naming our concession "The Alchemist's Instant Portraiture"  (we will be selling souvenir photography printed onsite as well as via the internet).

Arduino is the core of the chromatic accent lighting, 92 watts of RGB+W LED's each.  Color blending via PWM.

I have a good number of ideas for props for the site, which is a building approximately 12x20 feet... but I figure this is a great one to toss out here, as we are going for "mad scientist/alchemist" look.

Ideas?  (They have to be CHEAP and not necessarily Arduino related!)
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So, it is with no small amount of pride that I announce that a friend and I have landed the contract for "Ye King's Royal Photographers" for King Richard's Faire, the largest Renaissance and folk festival in New England.   Suffice to say, this is a huge win, and I will be working with people who know me and my limitations well.  Twenty hours a week, I will probably be able to manage.  I have backup if I can't.

Cool, if I remember, I'll try to stop by.  I'm about to go do some regular picture and videos of one of the two renaissance faires I'm an official photographer for up in Waterville Valley in NH (no Arduino, or anything, just regular digital photography).

We are naming our concession "The Alchemist's Instant Portraiture"  (we will be selling souvenir photography printed onsite as well as via the internet).

Arduino is the core of the chromatic accent lighting, 92 watts of RGB+W LED's each.  Color blending via PWM.

I have a good number of ideas for props for the site, which is a building approximately 12x20 feet... but I figure this is a great one to toss out here, as we are going for "mad scientist/alchemist" look.

Ideas?  (They have to be CHEAP and not necessarily Arduino related!)

Well there is what I do for steampunk and science fiction conventions, namely disguising my digital camera as a 1930's style press camera.  I recently gave a talk at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation for their monthly steampunk meetups on the evolution of the camera.  I put the slides up here: http://www.the-meissners.org/steampunk/steampunk-camera-2012-08-12/steampunk-camera.html

Unfortunately, due to Waterville Valley being the next two weekends, and then my wife and I going on vacation for the two weekends after that, I won't have any time in the next 4 weekends if you want to see the camera or pick my brain in person, and by that time KRF will have started.  I work in Westford, MA if you wanted to meet after work on a week night.  Feel free to PM me.  It sounds cool.

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We don't even allow lighting at most booths (a few exception for safety) in our faire, ambient lighting only.  That sounds very non-Renaissance.

Of course the concession stands sell Tempura, but that's another matter.
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Hehe.. well, photography requires a certain amount of lighting to be done right..  we are hiding the tech as much as possible, but of course, having the monniker Alchemist does at least help explain a certain amount of technology.  Not quite enough to explain a Canon digital camera, but, maybe the time the next year rolls around, we might have some reasonable way to disguise the actual cameras.  More of a concern is being able to effectively light and service the booth, lighting, printers, and such on a single ten amp breaker... we are aiming to avoid flash at least, so efficient lighting is a must.  Considering the photostage will be about 8x8x8.. it's no small task to light that properly.  It's going to be done with fluorescents, LED, and a lot of white rayon to function as softbox diffusers in front of the lighting, as well as hiding our "harnessed mysteries of swampfire and lightning itself" coupled with gels for color balancing.

Michael, I really was thinking you specifically might have some ideas... though I realize construction of this kind of thing isn't trivial if you need functions like ranging to work.  I think at least for this first round, getting together a feasible housing isn't going to be possible.. but I think I will be reviewing your mods in GREAT detail.

I think I am more thinking about theatrical type "mad scientist" arrangements that some of the more imaginative lunatics lurking around might have  smiley-twist
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 10:46:59 pm by focalist » Logged

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Yes, you only have 2 weeks or so before opening.  Good luck!
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So, it is with no small amount of pride that I announce that a friend and I have landed the contract for "Ye King's Royal Photographers" for King Richard's Faire, the largest Renaissance and folk festival in New England.   Suffice to say, this is a huge win, and I will be working with people who know me and my limitations well.  Twenty hours a week, I will probably be able to manage.  I have backup if I can't.

We are naming our concession "The Alchemist's Instant Portraiture"  (we will be selling souvenir photography printed onsite as well as via the internet).

Arduino is the core of the chromatic accent lighting, 92 watts of RGB+W LED's each.  Color blending via PWM.

I have a good number of ideas for props for the site, which is a building approximately 12x20 feet... but I figure this is a great one to toss out here, as we are going for "mad scientist/alchemist" look.

Ideas?  (They have to be CHEAP and not necessarily Arduino related!)

Well the closest to the spirit of a renasaince festival photographer I can think of would be a large format camera (with the dark sheet covering the photographer, but using a DSLR instead of a film holder/glass plate.  For lighting I would suggest flash powder as the most period appropriate.  Then I would use a optical flash trigger, wired to trigger the DSLR's shutter when it detected the flash from the flash powder.

Flash powder has a long enough duration, that a DSLR shutter should have plenty of time to operate within the flash's window.
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Oh, and the post processing should include some artifacts and degredation of the sharpness of the image to make it as period as possible.

Or possibly, using the 'painterly' functionality of some of the packages to make the photograph look like a painting...
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Or  - you could dress as Spock and the crew of the Enterprise...


(sorry, I work in television and get stuck seeing all that stuff...)
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As somebody who does both steampunk events and renaissance faires (both as a patron, and faire worker, depending on the event), I do tend to prefer vendors to stick with the theme.  I.e. its great if you sell both steampunk and ren-faire stuff, but I would prefer to see mostly the ren-faire stuff at a ren-faire, and steampunk stuff at a steampunk event.  Patrons (or playtrons if you prefer) will wear whatever they please, but depending on how inappropriate the costume is, you will be talked about.

Now for a photo booth, you can disguise the camera, but it is a lot of work.  And note, a large format camera design like my steampunk camera, is still about 200 years in the future of the period set by the faire.  I've thought about doing a general artist gig, where you have an easel set up and put a live view screen on the canvas, and disguise the camera with paints and rags draped over it.  But with only 2 weeks to showtime, now may not be the time to do redesigns.

I would probably not do the flash paper, while it would be cool, since it might get dry enough that it could be a potential fire hazard.  I don't recall if you need a permit to use it.  If you do it, you would have to factor in the cost of flash paper into each photo.  I could imagine using the Arduino to fire off the flash paper, and it doesn't even have to be used for the photo, you can use normal flash, but close enough that most people won't notice.

Obviously you need to factor in how long your camera and flash batteries last, and make sure you have plenty of extras.  Bear in mind you will need to either have enough to last you all 3 days of the Labor day and Columbus weekends, or you need to have enough chargers and amperage to be able to charge the batteries overnight.  You don't want to have to wake up every 2-3 hours to change batteries if you only have one charger.

You presumably have already thought to have enough paper and ink to last each weekend.  Given the dust in the area, I would suggest making sure you have backups if/when some gear fails.

If you are doing special effects on the computer (tinting, etc.), make sure they are automated enough that you can just pop in the card, or upload from the camera, and have everything happen.  You mention internet sales, my sense is in general you won't get that many, since the essence of a lot of these photo booths is instant gratification.

Have fun!
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 12:40:27 pm by MichaelMeissner » Logged

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I could imagine using the Arduino to fire off the flash paper, and it doesn't even have to be used for the photo, you can use normal flash, but close enough that most people won't notice.

I suggested using the flash powder to trigger the camera, instead of the other way around because in my experience the powder is more more variable in the time from ignition to full light as well as the total time is much longer than modern shutter durations.  In short your camera shutter will likely open and close before the light from the flash powder can illuminate the scene.

The stuff can be a fire hazard, but that just is part of the 'authenticity'.  Also Camera Obscura's are appropriate to the time frame.  I don't think it would be a tough sell to set the costume to that theme, perhaps combined with the role of an alchemist...
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The stuff can be a fire hazard, but that just is part of the 'authenticity'.
Watch your mailbox for laundry bills from some of the 37 lawyers who had spontaneous orgasms when they heard about that that suggestion  smiley-cool

The camera obscura idea is a really neat one.  A friend of mine showed me a trick he'd done with a Photoshop-like app that made a digital photo look very painting-like (some sort of solarization-ish effect that reduced the ranges of color and light variations). You could demo the  Marvel of the Modern Age, perhaps with some portholes on the side that would allow attendees to see the image projection.  Then have the "painter" make a show of entering the camera,  surreptitiously replacing the pinhole with the digicam.  A minute later, he emerges with an amazingly-accurate portrait of the customer(s).
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Rather than painting, how about stained glass or brass etching effects?
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As my daughter and I were thinking about going to KRF this Sunday, I recalled this thread.  I was wondering how things worked out with the photo booth?
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Well, a few minor bumps both technical (power) and personal (I am paying pretty harshly, medically, for the two days of fairly high activity requiring that I also not eat solid food starting noon on Fridays thru Sunday nite)-- but we are in fact doing it, and in my opinion (and the opinion of customers) we are doing a far better job than should be expected given that we are running a photo studio out of leanto in the woods on an extension cord that ranges minute by minute from as low as 90 to as high as 150 volts depending on what else is powered on the circuit by other vendors at any given time!

I built a total hackjob lighting rig using dimmable fluorescents of mixed temp, mostly warmer tones, with balanced backdrop, hair, and side (45 degrees off, a sort of poor man's Rembrandt balance) lighting, while also needing to accomodate changing conditions as we do non-studio shots all over the Faire.

Here's a couple of shots I tagged on Pinterest:
http://pinterest.com/focalist/king-richard-s-faire-alchemists-instant-portraitur/

Sounds like this weekend may be kinda wet and cold.. I am hoping for the best!   I have got the city asking me if I am planning to shoot the city's fall festival again this year, which is Sunday- there are going to be some unhappy people when they find out that this year, free advertising photography via my donated time to the city isn't going to be there.  I had already informed them in August of this, but did skip out on Labor Day to do the parade, which is the largest Labor Day parade in New England.  I am one of the coordinators of the parade as well as the photographer for many years running, and due to the politicos turning out in such force (Brown, Warren, etc) I didn't want to leave it in the hands of someone else.  It is very interesting the reactions and emails I am getting from people who have for years gotten things for free and this year won't.  Says a lot.  It might just be a good thing for some of these folks to notice the vacuum where their freebies used to be..

In any case, even though it's kicking my hind end and it really is going to be a struggle to come out of this in the black, the value of working cannot be overstated.  It's been a long time, and it feels preety good no matter how bad it feels.....

Facebook gallery of afew of the politco shots from the parade:
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.4619511133607.2187706.1467522154&type=3
« Last Edit: September 26, 2012, 06:59:49 pm by focalist » Logged

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Yeah I've run into that where people always expect you to keep on giving stuff for free even when circumstances change.

I tend to get migraines after being in the sun a lot, and in the past, I've gotten some whoppers after doing faire weekends.  Though now that I try to keep the sunglasses on, it helps quite a bit (I just got a mask to try and hide the glasses).

Nice looking faire photos.

I just finished up the Abbadia Mare (Hammond Castle) photos and videos (199 photos, 6 hours of video) from the one weekend.  Now on to the Waterville Valley Renaissance faire photos (2 weekends).

For the Watch City steampunk event (Mother's day weekend at Charles River Museum of Industry in Waltham), I did suggest to one of the organizers, that I could host a panel entitled 'So you want to be an event photographer' covering some of the things I've learned over the last 5 or so years.

If you see a goofy looking guy in either green/yellow or red/black with squirrel mascots, that is probably me.  smiley-mr-green
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