Sunday, May 31, 2009

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Katrina's friend, Angie, asked me if I would be willing to shoot some risque photos of her in military style clothing so she could put a Calendar together for her boyfriend who is serving in our U.S. Military. I figured why not and help boost the morale of one of our boys. We scheduled the shoot for May 28, 2009.

One of my co-workers plays "air soft" and so I asked if I could borrow some of his gear, i.e. clothing, guns, and anything else that had a military look. While planning for the shoot, Katrina called and informed me that her beau was shipping out for Marine boot camp and wanted to give him some pics of her to help get him through the next few weeks. So two risque shoots in one night.

May 28 rolled around and I debated using the U.S. flag as a prop, but a buddy (Mike), who served in the military said that he buried too many buddies and felt, in his opinion, that using our Nation's Flag would be disrespectful. I honored his opinion. The shoot began around 5:30 and my co-worker, Ty, showed up with a foot locker full of gear and weapons. SWEET!!! Angie was so excited she got a little choked up. Katrina was playing double duty for that day's shoot. Katrina is attending beauty college for cosmetology. First wardrobe for Angie was camo bikini (pictured above), we used the rifle and the foot locker as a prop, and shot in and around our pool. I need to buy a full-length reflector since she wasn't evenly lit in some of the three-quarter or full-length shots. Katrina wore the black bikini (pictured above). We did some single and couple shots and then as the sun began to duck behind the house we moved into the Studio.

Earlier in the week I did some test shots for a newbie model, Ashley V., and experimented with "cosmo" style lighting via softbox and a reflector. So I decided that this would give their pictures that high fashion/glam look. Time for a wardrobe change, Angie put on her camo short-shorts and that was about it. We did some pin-up poses with strategic placement of her arms, or the props. Then it was Katrina's turn. Since we've worked together a fair amount her session was pretty quick, we did similar poses, but also did one full nude. I know people are thinking that these girls are running around topless, or fully nude. Trust me, they weren't and I wouldn't have been comfortable shooting them. You'll just have to take my word.

After a couple hundred shots we weeded them down to about 20 for each girl. The girls were extremely happy with the results.

So what did I learn:
Actually not too much, except that I need a full body reflector, I believe I can pick up a 4" x 8" piece of reflective foam board at Home Depot or Lowes for cheap.
I make it a habit to double-check my camera settings before each shoot so I can minimize post work.

It was definitely a fun shoot and I learned a lot about lighting the human body...

Set-up info for indoor session:
24" x 36" softbox with no diffuser suspended from Manfrotto boom directly above camera with the bottom of the soft box about five feet off the ground and slightly angled downward.
Strobe pointed at a 42" oval white reflector. The reflector is placed directly below the camera and angled slightly upward to remove any shadows cast by the softbox and set at 1/3 power.
White cloth backdrop, but it appears grey since the models are about 4 feet away.

Photo Info:
Program Mode: Manual
f-stop: 3.5
ISO: 100
Shutter: 1/125
Focal: 70 mm

...and That's a Wrap!!!
P.S. I was going to post our "Wrap" shot, but I need to get permission from the girls.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sammy's Story - Rendezvous

So the theme of this shoot is "Rendezvous". Beautiful woman waiting for her date to arrive. I'm starting to think I have abandonment issues. lol.

Anyway, Model Mayhem Model Sammy Storey and I have been trying to get together for a shoot since early April and finally our schedules sync'ed up, May 19 was the date. I've been wanting to shoot downtown Bakersfield at a sidewalk cafe, and now was my chance. A thespian friend had a rehearsal meeting at the Stars Dinner Theater the same night as my shoot, and since I helped with setting up their A/V equipment, he allowed me to shoot in the cafe portion of the restaurant.

I asked a fellow photographer, Brian to join me for the shoot. Brian also worked with me on my first model shoot back in February and then again on my Harley Cowgirl shoot. I would classify Brian as an artist that uses photography as his medium. We started shooting in front of a night club, The Nile, at 6:15 PM until the light started ducking behind the trees. It was about 7:00 PM when we moved to the dinner theater for shoot number two.

We scoped out the place, moved some tables around decided to try a Joe McNally strobist shoot. The restaurant has a huge front window that faces east towards Chester Ave. (basically the Main St. in our town.) There really wasn't much available light, and without a tripod ISO 6400 would be the ticket. Instead it was time to whip out the Nikon Speedlights, I set-up my SB-900(key) and SB-600(fill) with shoot-thru umbrella. Both Flashes had CTO Gels, the SB-600 with a 1/4 CTO. Brian built a really cool reflector to insert his SB-800 into, so we decided to use his SB-800 as the key light.

Watching and listening to Brian and I set-up our lights must have been pretty funny to Sammy and her beau, Elijah. "I'm going to set my camera's E/V to -1, Group A +.7 E/V and Group B -2.0 E/V, I'll use Slow Sync to drag the shutter and saturate the background." It all sounds good until you start squeezing off shots and reviewing histograms, etc...

So Brian put his SB-800 outside the front window to act as our key, and I placed the SB-600 with the umbrella, just camera right. Both were set to TTL and both equipped with CTO gels. I used my 24mm - 70mm lens to get some funky looking shots and my 70mm - 200mm for more traditional portrait shots. As the sky turned black, we realized that the reflective material on the front window was interfering with the camera's light pulses. Fortunately we were able to keep moving the SB-800 closer to the window without getting blown highlights on Sammy's face. TTL rocks!!! The picture above looks like the setting sun, which was what we wanted. After several poses and camera angles, we wrapped at 8:30 PM.

So what did I learn?
Technically, not much on this shoot went wrong. No time constraints, except the sun and the reflective window tinting. Except that in my rush to get the speedlights set-up, I mounted my umbrella holder upside-down on my light stand which means the flash and the shoot-thru umbrella don't pivot together. Good catch Brian. Overall a great shoot, so thanks to Sammy, Elijah, Brian and my friend Brent.

Strobist Info:
SB-800 (Key) TTL Mode with 12" Reflector and CTO Gel +0.7 E/V
SB-600 (Fill)TTL Mode with shoot-thru umbrella and 1/4 CTO Gel -2.0 E/V
D700 Commander Mode and Global E/V -.03 and Slow Sync Flash

Photo Info:
f-stop: 2.8
Shutter: 1/60
Focal: 116mm
ISO: 200
Metering: Matrix

That's a Wrap!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

My son the Prankster

I had to blog this capture, being the proud Dad that I am, I laugh every time I view it. My boys wanted to give their Mom a picture of themselves for a Mothers' Day present. Although my youngest doesn't help out during my shoots, he always reviews my pictures and tells me if the poses look natural, cool or downright stupid (Note: I won't use the term he really uses since it's inappropriate). I decided we'd shoot during the golden hour and we would use our backyard as the backdrop. While I was getting ready, he'd yell to me "I'm Ready" and then he'd quickly strike a pose reserved for my female models, but before I could shoot he'd move. Thank goodness for Auto-focus and a full-frame sensor. I turned on Auto-focus and pointed the camera at him at waist level and then began to walk around. This capture was definitely shooting from the hip. He yelled "Hey Dad!!!" BANG, I pressed the shutter all the way down and "Presto." Drew playing with his hair, which is one of my favorite poses for my female models.

After I reviewed the picture, I cropped it and asked his permission to post. He agreed, and here it is. To all you Mothers, have a Happy and Safe Mothers' Day.

That's a Wrap!!!

Strobist Info:
SB-800 (Key Light) w/12" Reflector and CTO Gel set to +0.7 E/V - TTL Mode
SB-600 (Fill Light) with a shot-thru umbrella and 1/4 CTO Gel set to -2.0 E/V - TTL Mode
Nikon D700 - Commander Mode and global exposure set to -0.3 or -.07 and Slow Sync (I think)

Picture Info:
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1/60
Focal: 116mm
f-stop: 2.8

Katrina - Sunset (Strobist #6)

After my test shoot with Katrina (a.k.a. Cheat) we scheduled our next shoot for 6:00 PM. I've wanted to shoot at dusk and catch some beautiful clouds. Fortunately we had a tropical storm blow in Friday night, May 1, which brought some rain. Saturday started out a little overcast, but the sun made it out and dried the ground.

This session's theme was "Stranded." I envisioned a beautiful women in a dress stranded miles away from anywhere along a dusty road. I was trying to find a backdrop similar to the movie Thelma and Louise, but a majority of the perfect places were behind fenced areas.

Anyway, Cheat and her friend, Angie, arrived at 5:30 PM. We loaded up the Jeep and headed out to Northeast Bakersfield where the landscape is reminiscent of the Mad Max movies. Lots of oil pumping equipment and minimal foliage. It was still pretty light out so I used a gold reflector for most of the shots. Thanks "Ang" for being my Reflector Babe.

After a half hour the sun hid behind some clouds and the wind began to pickup. Rats!!! I pulled out my SB-900 and hot shoed it. However, I still knew on-camera flash pointed at your subject looks cruddy and something I try to avoid. Instead, I bounced the flash off the gold reflector to finish my shots. The wind and cool air was getting to the girls so we packed up and headed over to Hart Park for a wardrobe change and ditch the wind. This is one of my favorite shots from the "Stranded." Albeit, I used a filter during "post" called Bleach Bypass by Nik Software, but I really like the overall effect.

Once Cheat changed into her boots we set-up for more casual shots that would include some background foliage and landscape for a sense of place. I've been reading Joe McNally's Hot Shoe Diaries and wanted to play around with dragging the shutter and using studio lighting techniques, but outdoors.

I tried different angles, different flash output, camera E/V, and basically tried everything I read. Cheat is such a great sport. Of course Mother Nature was still toying with us and Cheat had to keep adjusting her hair while I was catching my SB-900 with the umbrella even with a 5 lb ankle weight. Interesting that the umbrella acts as a parachute when the wind blows. lol.

I really like the pic at the top of this post. It's my favorite for this wardrobe and locale.

Strobist info:
SB-900 Camera Left 45 degrees, 6 feet high, angled downward and feathered, 1/4 CTO Gel and diffuser shot thru white umbrella, i-TTL Mode
SB-600 Camera Right 90 degrees, zoom set to 70mm - Camera level (need to buy a Snoot), i-TTLMode
Camera - Commander Mode with Flash turned off and E/V set to -0.3
Camera info:
Exposure: 0.017 sec (1/60)
Aperture: f/2.8
Focal Length: 70 mm
Focal Length: 71.3 mm
Exposure Program: Aperture Priority

More photos from the shoot are on my web-site.

A big thanks to those who follow my blog, and That's a Wrap!!!