Because the refrigerator wasn’t working, I did a little creative electrical wiring to get the interior light bulb to function. This bulb was directly wired to a plug so that it could be connected to an electrical outlet. I wanted this bulb to work so the interior of the fridge would appear to be lit solely by this source. But because it was a dim light source and I needed to freeze the motion of the model, I opted for using flash in addition to the tungsten bulb. Due to the limited space available to place a strobe head inside the refrigerator, I settled on a Nikon SB-24. This is a small “on-camera” unit which is normally used with a 35mm camera. This flash has an sync post which allows a sync cord to be connected to the flash so it can be discharged by any camera or remote. The strobe was duct-taped to the top, in back of the fridge, about six inches away from the rear wall. This would cause the light to bounce off the white walls of the fridge, illuminating its contents and the model.
Next, to create the feeling of evening outside the refrigerator door, I positioned a single Broncolor strobe head with a nine-inch reflector and a blue gel to bounce off the cove wall directly behind the model. Again, this “bounced” light source creates soft light that would emulate moonlight through a window. The strobe pack was set up to trigger at the same time as the small interior flash.
To set the exposure on the model, I used a hand-held incident meter. The first reading was taken of the tungsten light without flash – this reading was f/5.6 at 1/15. Next, a reading was taken of the small interior strobe with the meter’s dome aimed at the camera. The meter was held where the model’s head would be, and gave a reading of f/11 at 1/15. By using this camera setting, the tungsten light bulb would be two stops underexposed, which would make the bulb appear to be lit, yet not creating a problem with motion if the model moved during the exposure.
The blue light outside of the refrigerator had to be metered as well. A reflective spot meter was used in this situation for two reasons. First, the spot meter allowed a reading to be taken from the camera position of the precise area that would be seen in the image. Secondly, by using a reflective meter, I could get a reading of this light at a value of 18%. (Keep in mind that an incident meter will give you an reading to properly expose your subject while a reflective meter will give you a reading of 18% gray.) My reflective reading was f/8 at 1/15. Because my incident reading for the model was f/11 at 1/15, that was the exposure at which the camera was set. With the camera set at f/11 at 1/15, the reflective reading of the blue light of f/8 at 1/15 would create an underexposure of one stop, rendering a value of one stop under 18% to a value of 9%. based on experience, I felt this value for the background would be appropriate.
The image was shot on a Hasselblad 500CM with a 40mm lens. This lens helped to give the image a playful feeling and was just wide enough to capture the ceiling and side walls of the fridge. Props, wardrobe, and the model were chosen to add to the quirkiness of the image. A test image was shot on Polaroid 669 film to check the exposure and composition of the image once everything was set up. Like the Kodak EPP 100 film I planned to use, the Polaroid film is balanced for daylight (5500 [degrees] Kelvin). Keeping this in mind, I knew that the flash (also 5500 [degrees] K) would expose the interior of the fridge in true color, the flash with the blue gel would record as deep blue (remember that it was one stop underexposed), and the tungsten light bulb (3200 [degrees] K) would be rendered orange. This interior light bulb combined with the flash would not create a major shift in color.
I shot 10 rolls of film using various props in the fridge and a variety of expressions on the model. This frame was my favorite. During the shoot, we took a small break and I unplugged both the sync cord to the flash and the interior bulb of the fridge. When it was time to resume the shoot, I mistakenly plugged the sync to the flash into the 110-volt outlet. My SB-24 made one final and heroic “pop.” I guess it was time for both the fridge and the flash to make that trip to the big dump in the sky.