This man with lanthorn, dog and bush of thorn…

This man, with lanthorn, dog, and bush of thorn,
Presenteth Moonshine; for, if you will know,
By moonshine did these lovers think no scorn
To meet at Razor Stiletto, there to woo.

William Shakespeare – A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With amendments.

Tonight, I’m going to Razor Stiletto. For the first time, I decided to dress up. And to combine my dressing up with some strobist experiments.

The fancy-dress theme for tonight is “Midsummer Night’s Dream – Shakespearian Splendour, Fairies & Woodland Creatures”. I acted in Midsummer Night’s Dream when I was 17. I played Robin Starveling, the Tailor, who appears as Moonshine in the mechanicals’ play-within-a-play towards the end of the show. So in homage to that role, I thought I would play moonshine tonight.

By sheer chance, when I took the kids to school yesterday I discovered a load of drum-heads which somebody had thrown out. Now, a drum-head is round. So is the moon. And most of these were also white. “That’s it!” I thought. “I’m halfway there already…”

Thing is though, the moon is illuminated. I wondered about putting a torch behind the drum-head to light it up, but as I’m going to be wandering around taking photos, using my Ebay remote flash triggers, I thought “why not put a flash unit up there, so that the moon lights up whenever I take a photo?”

And so, I built an elaborate wire headgear which holds the drum skin on my head, and holds the flash unit up a few inches behind it so that the drum skin acts as a rather wonderful diffuser (at least, it would with the flash in the right place – I’m still having some trouble avoiding getting bent wires). To this I added on one side a cuddly toy dog belonging to Rowan and Lola, and on the other side a sprig of miniature holly branches. Voila: the man in the moon!

But I wasn’t finished yet. Having got into the swing of making stuff (something I normally never do, unless it’s “virtual stuff”) I carried on with a project I’ve had in my head for ages: the umbrella reflector glove. Take one fingerless glove. Stick some lengths of garden cane in each finger. Put some silver wrapping paper over the lot, in a “bat hand” sort of shape (actually, I’d meant to use reflective gold fabric, but I couldn’t find it. The wrapping paper was a pain because it kept ripping, but it does the trick). I know Robin Starveling never actually dressed as Edward Scissorhands in the mechanicals’ play, but please allow me some artistic license.

To the bat-hand I added my usual off-camera flash technique, slightly modified: I have the flash pointing upwards along my wrist, so that it hits the umbrella-hand and is reflected back over my subject, suitably diffused.

Here are some slightly dodgy photos of the whole kaboodle (better ones will no doubt follow later):

With the flashes off:
Robin Starveling flash experiments - flash off

With the flashes on:
Robin Starveling flash experiments - flash on

I can’t wait to try this out. Wish me luck! Results coming soon to my photo website.