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!


Portrait Session with Katelyn

I met Katelyn through a networking site called Model Mayhem, a place where photographers, models, makeup artists and hairstylists can all communicate back and forth and hook up for photoshoots.  Katelyn was looking for some photos to add to her portfolio and I was looking to do the same, so we set out on a bright sunny Sunday morning to see what we could get.

We started out down on the boardwalk attempting some natural light stuff, but I found that I wasn't quite getting the look I was hoping for.  I had my lovely wife (who was graciously willing to help me out) hold up one of my flashes, no gel, and pop it straight back into Katelyn.  The result, once the intensity was set up properly, was a stark light that imitated the existing conditions rather well.  In addition, the sunlight beaming in on Katelyn's back formed a beautiful hair/rim light to give a sense of glow to the shot.

Sometimes a flash modifier isn't necessary.  This flash (look closely in the glasses) was only modified with an omni-bounce cap to allow some minute smoothness.  

We soon switched up to using a reflector for a more even and soft light.  This image below has a nice golden effect from the semi-gold side of the 5 in 1.  The gold side can be a very warm light, but I only needed a touch of that warmth to allow for this wonderful warming glow-y effect.

Reflectors are probably the cheapest and easiest form of external lighting gear that you can use.  Sunny day shots are made extremely special with this kind of light!
We decided to head to Point Pleasant park for some more locations ("wait a minute, Tim" I hear you say, "didn't you already get a bunch of photos there last week?" Yes, but there are a huge amount of vibrant scenes to choose from in this park that I just adore, and I haven't exhausted the park just yet).  Here we set out to use some more complicated lighting setups, including the Lastolite Ezybox.  

If you've never used one of these hotshoe flash modifiers, I suggest you give one a try.  I'm always impressed by the quick and reliable setup, durability and quality of light on this modifier.  Case in point: 

Lastolite Ezybox Hotshoe Flash modifier (Joe McNally model) using 1/2 CTO gel and aimed slightly to camera left of the model (Flash is positioned off-camera left, approx. 5 ft from the model).
 My favorite part about light like this is the dramatic fall-off.  You can stop your camera up really high (F16 ish) and use the light to 'spot' the subject, as below:

I did cheat a little and darkened the wall a bit in photoshop.  Even in the original image, Katelyn stands out, and the expression is perfect.  I have a few shots of the same vein with her eyes open, and the effect just isn't the same.
Below is a setup shot, before I realized that the light was on the wrong side.  I got jess to move the light to the right of Katelyn to get the shot above.  The trick is to aim past the subject.  This makes the light more "spot-light" like.  

As this was my first expedition out with a model, I had a bit of nervousness to battle through.  I think I won out though, and I'm very happy with these shots.  I'm hoping to get more work like this!

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