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My first portrait of the week was scheduled to be a double: Julia Louis-Dreyfus and director Nicole Holofocener at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, during a day of press for their new film "Enough Said." I used the curtain as a background because it was the "cleanest" wall to use, as the room was wood paneled with lots of seams. Knowing I'd be using a softbox on a boom for several portraits in the coming days, I decided to shoot through a white umbrella, softening the light and giving me a big light source, with a background light and another gridded head filling the right side, just outside of the frame. Photographed in downtown Toronto, Sept. 6.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

For Jake Gyllenhaal and the movie "Prisoners," I was given a corner meeting room in the Shangri-La hotel, which was all glass. I used the only solid "wall" I could, which would not allow light to come through the piece of fabric I brought to use as a backdrop. I did a variety of shots, with the two softboxes shown, then ambient light, turning the strobes off and quickly moved behind the glass wall to a small couch, using the small softbox. Photographed in downtown Toronto, Sept. 7.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Another hotel conference room, this time inside the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Toronto, to photograph Benedict Cumberbatch, soon to be seen in "The Fifth Element." Knowing I'd be in the same hotel for multiple shoots, I brought one of the three pieces of fabric I hauled from L.A. As I do when working in L.A., I try to get at least two scenarios out of my portrait shoots, no matter how short my time is with them. For Cumberbatch, I was able to shoot him against this fabric on the left and then shut off my main light overhead and shoot something more moody with just the gridded side lights. Photographed in downtown Toronto, Sept. 8.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Moments before shooting a double of actor Daniel Bruhl and race car driver Niki Lauda, who Bruhl plays in Ron Howard's new film, "Rush," I used a wall in a waiting area, with one softbox to shoot a single of Bruhl. Photographed in Toronto, Sept. 9.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

Of the 19 portraits I shot while in Toronto, I made only one picture outside, which happened to have a great view of the downtown skyline. While I tested with my strobe on the left side, after the sun peeked out (on the left), I moved the strobe to the right side for the final images. Actor Daniel Bruhl and race car driver Niki Lauda, who Bruhl plays in Ron Howard's new film, "Rush," were shot with one light on the rooftop of the Park Hyatt hotel. Photographed in Toronto, Sept. 9.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

For the last shoot of my week in Toronto, I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with Metallica, promoting their new film, "Metallica: Through the Never," in a conference room of the Four Seasons hotel. The room was empty, which allowed for one shot on a black cloth background I brought and then I used the dividing wall that had a printed texture. The band members, from left; Kirk Hammett, lead guitar; Lars Ulrich, drums; James Hetfield, guitar; and Robert Trujillo, on bass, are photographed in Toronto, Sept. 10.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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Behind the lens | From Metallica to Jake Gyllenhaal at the Toronto International Film Festival

by Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles Times

(This series of diptychs shows Clendenin’s lighting set-up and the resulting portrait from his recent trip to the Toronto International Film Festival)

O Canada… “The True North strong and free!” I wasn’t quite singing it as I drove over the border from Buffalo, N.Y., where I had shipped my lighting case to a friend. But leaving the country for the Toronto International Film Festival, one of the premier festivals of the season, definitely had me excited to tackle as many portraits as I could during my stay in Canada’s largest city.

Over the course of five days, I shot a total of 19 portraits, with a mix of singles, doubles and one group shot, of the band Metallica. Knowing I couldn’t bring (or rent due to budget concerns) as much gear as I normally have while working in L.A., I was very thoughtful about what I would bring on the plane and what I would ship ahead of time to a friend who lives near the border.

As I like working with a boom stand, one of my checked bags was a stand bag that contained a Bogen Combi-Boom stand, a Savage Port-A-Stand kit and a small Chimera softbox. In the rolling Tamrac bag I shipped ahead of time, I put a small lighting kit which had two Dynalite Uni250s and one Uni400, as well as three Bogen Nano Stands, a set of grids, Bogen travel sandbags, gaffer tape, a Savage black muslin 10’x12’ background and miscellaneous supplies, such as batteries, a RayFlash ring light for my Canon strobe and my Fuji Instax 210 camera.

While it would have been nice to have had a couple more fabrics for backgrounds and a couple more strobes to diversify my shoots, I can easily say I used everything I brought, including the three cloth backgrounds (bought in the Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles). While I used many wallpapers and curtains, having fabrics of my own allowed for more flexibility, particularly when I was shooting multiple people (three different shoots inside the Ritz-Carlton). The pace of the festival is definitely frenetic and schedules changed by the hour, but it’s those ever-changing variables that excite me about my job and challenge me to be creative and a problem-solver.

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