On Fire: Behind The Scenes

Friday was a big day.  I actually was going to have my first full studio session including a model, make-up artist and assistants.  I was pretty nervous going in, since I had fronted the cost of a three hour rental at Aperture and wanted to make the absolute best of it.  I think I got the results I was after.  Each photo was planned out, so that lighting, timing and setup would be streamlined.  The theme of the shoot was to be Fire, and I was going to try to put it together with fashion, hair, makeup and colours.

Here are some behind the scenes photos of what went on:
This is the setup for how I got the shot at the top of this post.   I had Ellen sit and give me some 'Fiery' expressions.  My assistant Tasha was waving a large piece of cardboard to create a gust of wind.  
We used a large piece of cardboard in lieu of a Fan to create the windy look in the shots.  I could have used a fan, yes, but if Lindsay Adler has taught me anything, it's that a fan will move the hair about in strands, rather than in locks.  I wanted the full wind gust on this shot.

Lighting-wise, I wasn't doing anything too spectacular.  I used an octabox (seen above and below) in front of Ellen.  Behind her, about 8 feet back and two feet camera right is a small strip bank that was gridded for control.

In fact, Jess (who took these photos with her iPhone) is standing beside the strip bank.  
We worked with the shot until we got just what I was after, and even a little further.  Then, we introduced a few new elements, including the chair and pumps.  The lighting for this shot is almost identical to the shot above, with the addition of a reflector off camera right and in front to help fill shadow areas.  

We needed something more, something to add to the "heat" of the photos.  I placed a gelled light behind Ellen to add some rim lighting and create some glow.  In addition, we also started to smoke up the place with Tasha's smoke machine.  it worked great to add an extra bit of atmosphere to the photos.  We also changed up the softbox to something with some more energy, a 22" beauty dish.  Once again, the reflector was used, gold side, to help fill in the shadows.

I simply love the slight grin on Ellen's face. 
Ellen went for a change of wardrobe and we removed the soft-box off camera right, replaced it with the more directional attachment that comes standard on these lights.  We added some more smoke and this shot below came about:

Setup was three lights: Beauty dish above and off camera left, Orange Gelled strobe off camera left and slightly behind Ellen.  Bare strobe off camera right and above and behind Ellen. 

The final set of images were to be a lot of fun.  We had to time this stuff perfectly in order for it to work, and Ellen had to stand very nearly perfectly still.  I used a tutorial I found online to create the fire effect, and added in a punch from two light sources.  I had Jess (my other lovely assistant) open the shutter.  I used a glowstick to paint in the fire effect all around and somewhat in front of Ellen as quickly as time allowed. as soon as I felt I had covered everywhere, I got off-set and told Ellen to give an expression and hold it.  I used a wireless trigger in my hand to pop the lights, then Jess closed the shutter.  It worked okay for the first few times, but we began to refine the process and really nail down some cool stuff.  There was still a slight haze in the air from the smoke machine, and it added very well to the shot.

I was able to bring in some fabric that I picked up at my local Fabricville.  We used it as a wrap, but I think there could be more photos with this in the future!  
So that's about it.  I think from what time I spent in the studio I got a great return.  Everyone had a lot of fun, and I am incredibly thankful for their help and input.  I still need to work on my interaction with models, to try and get a more clear picture in my head while I'm shooting.  There's always something new to work on, and I have some more ideas that I want to try!