Boardwalk Fashion Shoot

Last night was cold.  Bitterly cold.  You can understand then, why I'm as impressed with Olivia Tupper as I am.  She was able to pose in a little black dress and didn't even flinch.

Model: Olivia Tupper
Assistant: Jess Naish Lingley

If you're interested, you can read my ramblings or simply click the first image to bring up a slideshow.
Olivia, rocking a little black dress and a red jacket against a blue background.  Contrast!!

The goal of our shoot was to get some drama happening: a backdrop with lots of texture and colour while keeping the focus on Olivia.  We met up at a Tim Horton's downtown, got ourselves some coffee to keep warm then went out into the cold, cold world. 

I knew what kind of lighting I was going to use well in advance.  I also knew that using a full cut of CTO on each flash was going to be necessary.  What I wasn't sure about was how much I could get away with in terms of shutter speed.

The problem is that I use manual triggers.  Everything I do with the triggers has to be controlled external to the camera, including synchronization, power and zoom.  The limitations of this system might come into play when you have to drag the shutter longer than 1/40 of a second, since ideally the rear-curtain sync would be the best option (and one I don't have).  Only using front curtain sync (default) means that I could wind up with a blurry shot, rather than my flash going off at the end of the exposure to freeze the subject. 

With these limitations in mind, I set out to position and power the lights to give the best effect I could.  I used an Ezybox off camera left for a key light, and used a single strobe, bare head as a side/back light, off camera right.  The side-light was flagged on the underside so that I didn't get a bunch of spill onto the ground.  
I think the one lighting mistake that I made was not putting the side-light up high enough.  The shadows cast by such a harsh light caused me a few problems, and due to my brain not really functioning properly in the cold, I didn't see it until later.  

So this begs a question: why the hell were you guys out there in such bitter cold?  Why not August?  Here's my logic: There were very few people out and about on the waterfront, so my background is pretty uncluttered.  While temperatures were about zero or lower with a light wind, they certainly could have been worse.  Between shots, Olivia was tossing her jacket back on to keep warm, which helped substantially. 

Olivia realized after looking over my shoulder, that we were being watched by just about every person on the ferry.  For some reason, we found this hilarious

Notice the black outlines on Olivia: this is an artifact of a slow shutter speed combined with flash freezing the subject's motion.  I actually like that there's some separation between her and the background.

This is one of my personal favourites from the shoot.  It helps to show more of the background, and a bit of the sky's drama.  This is the shoot I came downtown for.

Once we finished up on the boardwalk we went into the ferry terminal for a quick 10 minute warm up, and Olivia changed into some warmer clothes.  Once we were thawed out a bit, we hit the street looking for some cool brickwork or a nicely lit backdrop to shoot against.  We didn't get very far, since we wanted to stay close to the cars.  For these shots, I used one light, a beauty dish off camera left.  I wanted to keep things pretty simple.

I simply love the dramatic falloff of the light from a beauty dish.  It's so punchy and three-dimensional.  It makes me feel pretty bad then to know I have to look into another alternative from Lumodi. Their dishes are great, but they just don't hold up to our Canadian weather.  

Olivia put a jacket on between shots, as before, but this time I asked her to keep it on.  I really liked the blue against the reddish backdrop.  
Cheers, and stay warm!