Monday, December 30, 2013

Illusive Photography 2013 - Year in Review

Outtake: Tiffany and Jenna

At the end of last year I set some goals for 2013: 
  • Create Dramatic Images -  I will shoot one dramatic image per shoot
  • Available Light - Include one Available Light image per shoot
  • Have one session every fourth month that is "epic" - To me that means something that is really well-planned and requires more than a model, photographer and make-up artist/hair stylist
  • Photograph more Men - Increase the number of shoots that feature a male model, or my son
  • Shoot more film - One session in a month will be shot on Film
As I evaluate each shoot, I'll include one goal and see if I achieved my goal.

January:


Subtle
January 1 started with a Dia de Los Muertes shoot with model Jenna and MUA Clara. This image is one of the more dramatic images from our session. Single strobe in an octobox. It's close to what I wanted, but it still misses the mark and I'm not sure where it's deficient.
Mayte Diptych
A couple weeks later I scheduled two shoots on a weekend with two models I hadn't worked with since early Fall of 2012, Joy and Mayte. Mayte's session was shot with Available light, but no film and again I missed the mark with something dramatic.
During Joy's session we had a few outfits to shoot and again we managed to shoot Available Light and a somewhat dramatic image.  When I think of "dramatic" images, it should be a Low-Key image with minimal beauty lighting and converted to Black and White with a a darker tonal range.
Serious


February:

I was introduced to Jessica by my Friend/Model Taylor.  I told Jessica that our shoot would consist of Film Images in addition to digital.  She was agreeable.  This image was shot using Portra 160 with my "new to me" Nikon F5 camera.
Rust Diptych
During our shoot I attempted to create a dramatic image by using split lighting with Jessica standing between Shadow and Light.  I still don't feel it was dramatic enough, but the composition was decent.

Portra 160
March:

March included two shoots with HOOTERS girls for the annual Calendar competition and with good fortune, Brittany made it to the Annual Swimsuit Pageant in Las Vegas.  Although she didn't win, she does appear in the 2014 HOOTERS Calendar, so congratulations Brittany.  However, neither shoot included a film image, nor a dramatic image.

Impact Blue
Later that month, my friend Shelli asked if I knew a couple models she could photograph and if I wanted to participate in a shoot with a couple published photographers.  I managed to sneak away from work and shoot with Jessica at Minter Field in Shafter.  Once again, this image is still not dramatic enough.  It was shot with a speed light through an umbrella with the background -2 E/V.

April:

In April I participated in a group shoot and spoke with model Danielle about an idea to shoot with my Vespa and solely on film.  I shot a couple rolls of Porta and Superia with only Available Light.  Can you tell which is which?
Mirror

Sightseeing

Later in April, Joy was on Spring Break so we did a quick Little Red Riding Hood shoot at Riverwalk Park.  As I noted in my post about our shoot, we were walking through a path and I noticed how the sun came through the overhanging trees. 
Red
I feel this shot was dramatic, but as Mikey would say, "A Little too Clean".  This was shot with 3 speed lights, the SB-900 as Key and in an octobox, the other two were in the Paper Lanterns.
May:

The guys and I decided we needed a road trip and headed out to Pismo Beach on our motorcycles.  This really made us on traveling light, i.e. minimal gear.  I shot this with light from the Hotel room.  This doesn't meet my dramatic image, but it is emotive.
Alone
Later that month, Jenna hit me up to shoot, but with no theme I told her I wanted to shoot some film, so we just hung out and she let me play some more.  This was Available Light shot on Portra 800, using my Nikon F5
Jukebox
June:

Earlier in the year a couple photographer friends photographed Sam for a local Agency, who turns out to share a mutual friend, Tonya.  Sam does her own makeup and is excellent at it.  Although not a dramatic image, this is my favorite film image from our shoot that was shot using Ilford Super XP2 400.

Brush
This was probably the most dramatic image I could muster and although emotive, it doesn't feel dramatic enough for me.  All images were shot using Available Light.
July:

Personal stuff came up so I didn't plan any shoots except that I ordered some rolls of CineStill 500T rolls to play test.  Kodak CineStill is used in the Movie Industry and some cinematographers actually cut some for use on 35mm cameras and sell it on Etsy.  I ordered a few rolls and asked Jenna to help me test it out.  One thing I read later was to use gaffers tape over the film window.  The canister is not well sealed, so the film is prone to light leaks.
Jenna and Chris
August:

I had the opportunity to shoot with model Erica in the studio this time and she let me play with some more dramatic lighting. This was shot with a gridded key, and then a couple rim lights with barn doors and a fog machine.
Smokey Grey
I also shot a roll of Kodak BW 400 CN with Available Light.  I should probably have my film developed at a lab, but my impatience drives me to my local Walgreens where I pay $8 to have it developed and burned to a CD-ROM.
Tub Film
September:

Zip, Zilch, Nada, Nil for the month of September.

October:

I heard from model Jessica, who happened to be visiting her family in Hanford.  I drove up for the day and we shot around town with her cousin.  I forgot to bring my film camera, but managed to do something a little different.  Shot with an AB-1600 and PCB 22" White HO Beauty Dish overpowering the mid-afternoon sun to evoke a night shoot. Dramatic? not really.
Sound
November:

I heard from Joy who was back in town and decided we should shoot together.  This "One Light" image, shot with my gridded 22" Beauty Dish, camera right.  Joy is beautiful, but this was the best I could do.
Camisole
After shooting with the Angel Wings we switched to a different outfit and I managed to squeeze off about 6 images on some Portra 160 using Available Light.  I converted the image to Black and White due to the different color casts coming from the the sun and the reflection off the pavement.
H&S
December:

I began the year photographing Jenna, so how apropos would it be to end the year with Jenna. During our shoot, I attempted some more dramatic lighting.  Shot with a gridded 22" Beauty Dish, a kicker overhead (Paul C. Buff strip box) and again the fog machine.  I feel this was an emotive and dramatic image.  Its close to what I was envisioning in my head.
Disheartened

So did I achieve the goals I set for myself at the end of last year? Not really, but I managed to shoot more film than previously and at least attempt more dramatic images.  I didn't do any "epic" shoots and I didn't photograph any male models, so 2 out of 4 goals isn't bad.

Bite Several times during the year I felt like calling it quits and even as I blog, my passion for Model Photography is waning.  I still love photography and think I need to branch out into a different direction.

I usually post statistics from FLICKR and my blog about "views" and stuff, but really nothing outstanding happened, except I was published in the British Nikon Magazine, called N-Photo and I reached over 2 million views on FLICKR.

Thanks for the continued support over the past four years.

Alan

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Tub Thumpin'

Tatt'ed Bath

My dear friend Jenna sent me an image of a woman in a bathtub that she wanted in her portfolio, with much apprehension and reluctance I agreed.  This would be my fifth attempt to shoot using the tub and each previous shoot left me dissatisfied with my lighting results (See a previous post Rub A Dub Dub).

Backpiece

One difference from previous sessions is that we would use colored water as opposed to Milk Bath, or no water at all. At first it was suggested we use food coloring, but if anyone has every worked with food coloring would know that it does stain your skin and with having a job I figured Jenna didn't want to show up to work looking like a Smurf.  Jenna found some Sesame Street Bath Tub color tabs for the shoot and also provided a Make-up Artist, Sydniiee.

Disheartened

The top image was shot with only a gridded strip box with diffusion.  I kept moving the strip box to get it out of the reflection, but with limited overhead space it ended up showing in the final image. So in post, I colorized the blown highlights.

Covered

Once we got the shot, I had to try a pull back shot once more and try to get more depth in my image. I plugged in the Fog Machine, set up my Beauty Dish with gridded diffusion and placed it about two feet from Jenna and at about 90 degrees to shoot across the tub, but with a slight upward angle to minimize spill. I moved the strip box over her back shoulders for rim and then added a kicker to light up the fog and also hit some of the black backdrop.

Hazy Blue

This shot is basically the same set-up, but with the grid removed on the Beauty Dish.  I shot between F/5.6 and F/8, at ISO 200, and at 1/125 shutter speed.  I switched between my 24mm-70mm and 70mm-200mm lenses. If this picture looks familiar, it should since it is basically the same set-up, just different light modifiers and less fog than a shoot I did in August with model Erica.

What Did I Learn?

  • Communication is Crucial: Let models know upfront that some of the set-ups shot during the session are for personal education - As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the tub, blue light and fog was shot previously, and actually two times before.  This time I used less fog, gridded the beauty dish and changed the angle of the key light.  However, it is important to let the models know that they may see the same image, but with a different model. Get their approval before shooting.


I do have a lot of shoots planned, but with it being December I usually do charitable shoots so most likely this will be the last shoot for the year; most likely.