Thursday, 30 December 2010

Sunday Shoots: Two

Sara -6I booked every Sunday in October to do some in-depth studio shooting. I called the series "Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots". This second shoot of the series was with models Sara and Jade with Nadine running the make-up. As with the first shoot, I learned quite a bit.

This Sunday's shoot was with Sara and Jade.

Sara was up first. She wanted a series of "glamor" shots and had selected suitable clothes and props. Before we got to shooting her concept, I wanted to try out a pose I had seen in an ad for lipstick. The ad photo focused on the models face to highlight the lipstick, using a very dark frame to highlight only part of the model's face. The emphasis was therefore on the lipstick. Nadine didn't have the same color deep red as that used in the ad, but it was close.

Sara -6

I then tried to combine "high-key" with Sara's glamor concept. The test shot worked well.

Sara -5

Sara changed into her shoot clothes and got out her props, one of which was an awesome sailor's hat, and I shot a test head shot.

Sara -1

As I pulled back, I lost something in the composition and most of the shots did not work. I tried a chair shot.

Sara -4

I tried a 3/4 "shirt" shot.

Sara -2

I tried a 3/4 "shirtless" shot.

Sara -7

We spent several hours shooting and grabbed a couple of hundred images, but none of them really worked for me. I'm going to have to go back to the drawing board for Sara on this one. You can see Sara has classic good looks and I would love to shoot her in Steichen's style. Maybe that was my problem: I kept visualizing Sara in a high fashion composition and not a glamor composition.

After Sara and I wrapped up, Jade came in. She had an idea to shoot a "doll" series. As I was still working on my high-key shots (and still learning quite a bit), we agreed to shot some high-key before we moved to the doll concept.

Jade 3

High-key was becoming more natural to me now. I was able to set up and shoot without too much trouble. I still learned a few things, such as to test your lens on a high-key shoot BEFORE using it. The 50mm f1.8 is normally my sharpest lens so I use it for key portrait work but when I tried it here with Jade I got lens flare right in the middle of the shot. It seems some lenses cannot handle all of the light coming off of the background and they just flare out. So I tested my other lenses first and settled on my 70mm-200mm /2.8.

After the high key, we moved to the same "lipstick ad" concept I tried with Sara. I started a little further out than with Sara and moved in with each shot. I also kept the light a little wider to see what the effect would be. I think the result is quite different from the one I did with Sara.

Nadine had the idea to apply some sort of whitening cream to Jade's face and arms to enhance the idea of a "doll". I think Jade had in mind a "Raggedy Ann" concept, but when I saw her all made up, I was reminded of the sort of porcelain doll my grandmother would have had. So I call this series of shots "China Doll".

Jade 10

Jade 8
We used an old trunk and some other items in the studio as props. I set the camera, Jade did her thing, and I fired away like a madman.

Jade 16

Jade 11

Jade 12

Jade 14

I treated the images in post-production to get a daguerreotype look, as if I had discovered some old photos in a trunk. (As an aside, if you are not up on the Vivian Maier story, go to this website.) I thought about stressing the images with an overlay. In the end I decided not to as Jade would no longer be the focus. I also thought about black and white and tried out a couple of shots to see what they would look like.

Jade 18

I think B&W is great because they are so graphic, but it loses the "old photo, china-doll" feel that I was looking for.

Jade went through several poses and we got several fantastic images. I think this one gets the "best of the shoot" title.

Jade 14

To see a larger slide show of the photos from this shoot click here.

Thanks to Sara for her patience as she waited for me to get her shots done and for her understanding that not every day is an "on" day.

Thanks to Jade for her usual creativity. I never know what she is going to come up with when we shoot.

Thanks to Nadine for her wonderful work on make-up in these shots.

Without people like Sara, Jade, and Nadine, I would still be shooting garbage on park benches.

Garbage #1

Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day One is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Two is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Three is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Four is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Five is here.


Sunday, 26 December 2010

Sunday Shoots: One

I booked every Sunday in the month of October this year to do some in-depth studio shooting. I called the series "Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots" and I arranged my time in three blocks for each Sunday. A casting call on Model Mayhem for each slot brought a lot of offers from models to pose, but as usual with Model Mayhem, many of the models did not show up for their bookings. Fortunately for me, the models who did show were fabulous. We learned from each other and we bagged a number of great shots.

This is the first in a series of posts from my first round of Sunday Studio Shoots and was with Jenn, Anne, and Tena.

My first slot on this particular Sunday was with Jenn. We explored a lot of high-key shots, as I wanted to be able to shoot this style without even thinking about it.

The nice thing about high-key is that you can extend the background quite easily, such as in this shot.

This allows copy editors to lay down text for ads, but it also means you can quite easily make composite shots.

After shooting high-key for what seemed like hours, we flipped to a neutral back ground for a few close-ups.

As a photographer, I am always looking for the expression in a model's eyes. Here you can see how unique Jenn's eyes are and how they pop with the combination of colours in this composition.

I had my Steichen "In High Fashion" book with me, which I think is really Fashion Porn for Photographers. I explained this to Jenn, a photographer herself, and she struck a suitable pose with the text.

The studio had a wall with the paint peeling off of it and we tried a few poses against it. Nothing really worked until we brought in a fan to kick back Jenn's hair and amped the lighting for some harsh shadows.

My daughter took the second time slot and I am saving those photos for another Postcards post.

My third slot was with Tena, a fabulous and experienced model. I wanted to explore some of the concepts in Steichen's book and we settled one of his shots that shows a foot and some jewelry.

I was lucky to have Elle with me. She is another photographer and is pretty skilled at reverse lighting a photo. We worked on the lights for a bit and came close to the Steichen shot, even though Tena wasn't really dressed for the fancy, formal nature of the original shot. I noticed that my composition was a bit higher than Steichen's, which meant that I was lighting Tena's face.

I loved this idea and flipped around to camera left to change the composition and at the same time, angled the second light up to illuminate Tena's face even more.

This was a great start to a month long series of shoots. More to come.

Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day One is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Two is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Three is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Four is here.
Scott's Sunday Studio Shoots Day Five is here.


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Vamping Around

Another of the very creative Halifax Photo Outing's themes was "Vampires". This shoot was set, quite appropriately, in Stefano's Victorian-style home in Halifax. Toss in the usual very creative cast of characters and we had a wonderful time exploring photographic possibilities.

I usually start these things with a general direction that I want to take the images in and then I just play with the concept as I go. This time I couldn't decide on a final approach for the images. Did I want a "normal" photograph as if it were for a magazine? Did I want a black and white style, as if it were an old B-horror flick? Did I want some funky cartoon-style treatment? I decided to see if I could light for all three and make the final decision when I got to post-processing.

First off, I decided to light each scene using off-camera flash. I used my SB900 on an iTTL wire, which I find totally awesome for allowing me to focus on composition and less on working out flash ratios. In most cases I set the SB900 to EV+1, as I wanted the faces of the vampires to be pasty and white.

The first scene I had in mind was a "Vampire's Management Meeting". This one I quite like in black and white.

Vamping Around 35

I wanted all the models to gather around the great table in Stefano's dinning room, but the image had to be "ghostly". I set the exposure to f20 and 30 seconds at ISO 200. I had all of the models pose in place and hit one of them in the face with the flash. After 15 seconds, they all slowly got up and moved out of the frame. I then repeated the entire process for the next model. For my final shot, I had them all pose at the back of the room for the same exposure but did not use any flash. I used this last shot as the first layer in PS and put each of the other images as a layer on top of it. I then flattened the image using "lighten" blending. In hind sight, I could have posed each model individually rather than collectively.

There is something about vampires and mirrors in folklore and I wanted to see if I could capture it. I first shot Stefano framed in this mirror in the hallway, which while a nice composition, it really doesn't get to the mythology of a vampire's reflection not showing up in a mirror.

Vamping Around 41

So I tried shooting using the dining room mirror with both Stefano and Jenni. My idea was to have Stefano not appear in the mirror part of the image. Jenni, as the victim, appears in both.

Mirror Mirror

I didn't think most people would catch the idea of this shot, though, so I tried it the other way. Stefano appears in the mirror only and Jenni appears in both. In this shot, I did a lot of "high pass" filtering in post-processing and the result is more of a cartoonish style than the previous shot.

Vamping Around 51

Again, I didn't think most people would pick up on the fact that Stefano is violating the laws of physics in the photo, so I tried using a colour / black and white combination. The first was to look at the mirror as colour and the rest as B&W.

Vamping Around 32

This was OK, but I think the flip works much better, as if Jenni is actually having a premonition about being a victim.

Vamping Around 33

In the ebb and flow of shooting, I was taking a break and noticed the others were shooting some interesting scenes, so I shamelessly leached on and shot over their shoulders. This time, these were all shot using ambient lighting.

Vamping Around 36

Vamping Around 39

Vamping Around 40

I noticed Stefano had a wonderful chair and with a few other props, I proceeded to shoot portraits of both Stefano and Melanie. Here I used the SB900 (iTTL wired) on their face, and an SB800 (CLS remote from the SB900 Master) on the prop skull.

Vamping Around 31

Vamping Around 29

For the final scene, I wanted to explore Stefano's wonderful couch that had an interesting painting above it. I thought I could get something to work between the idea of the exposed flesh in the painting with the stereotype "exposed neck" in many vampire movies. I used the SB900 again to light the models, but I used a very slow shutter speed as I wanted to create some blur, or "ghosting", on the models.

Vamping Around 24

I really like this shot, which I call "Exposed" to reflect the theme of the exposed flesh in the painting, Melanie's exposed neck, and the exposed emotion as the little tear in the corner of Melanie's eye reveals.

Vamping Around 10

I also quite like this alternate composition that works well in black and white.

Vamping Around 25

I'm still not sure which style I prefer and would like you to leave a comment below as to which you prefer. I have packaged up slide shows of each style for you to review.

Here are the "normal" shots.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

If there are problems with the slide show, or if you want to see a larger version of the slide show, click on this link.

Here are the black and white shots.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

If there is a problem with the slide show, or if you want to see a larger version of the slide show, click on this link.

Here are the "not-normal" processed shots

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

If there are problems with the slide show, or if you want to see a larger version of the slide show, click on this link.

As always, thanks to the gang at Halifax Photo Outings for the creativity and patience that goes into every event.

EDIT: There seems to be a problem with Flickr at the moment and the slide shows are not working. YOu can always click on one of the photos above and go to my Flickr photostream and see all the photos from there.


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Lauren's First Postcards

My niece Alison was expecting her first child this fall and I wanted to get her baby's "first postcards". I was able to take some pregnancy shots on a trip home and later some more of Lauren on another trip home.

I had arranged to use a local photographer's studio to do these shots, but I wasn't able to reach him on the day of the shoot (nor at any time thereafter), so we had to make an impromptu studio in Aaron and Allison's basement. Instead of nice, bright studio lights, I made do with my small Speedights.

My first series focused on Allison's pregnancy so the shots are of her, her belly, and Aaron. I much prefer black and white for these compositions, but colour can work nicely as well.

Lauren -13

Here is a short slide show of the best shots from this shoot.

Last week I flew up to St. John's to drive back to Halifax with Blair following his final exams. While I was there, I was able to get in a short session with Lauren and her parents. Even though I didn't have much time, I'm pretty happy to have been able to get shots of Lauren on her first Christmas. Here is one of her under the tree.

Here is another of her and her parents.

The rest of the photos are in this slide show.

Between Lauren and Zoey, I have lots of subjects to shoot as they grow!