Saturday, August 29, 2009

Poolside Attraction

It's been several months since I've photographed one of my favorite models, Sammy Baby. We've been trying to work on several ideas, but we couldn't get our schedules to sync. Last week she called and said, "Let's do something simple, how about a bikini shoot?" I figured, why not, so the date was set for August 26, 6:00 PM. Sammy is always prepared and even showed up a little early to play with my three dogs. She doesn't work with a lot of photographers, so I always feel honored when she calls me.

Simple shot, one SB-900 with a 1/2 CTO Gel, mini-softbox, and a gold reflector in clamshell style. The pose was pretty spontaneous, Sammy was getting her hair wet and I asked her to turn around and come up to the edge of the pool. I wet down the tile to get a nice reflection, and she just put her hand to her head and was patiently waiting for me. I told her to "freeze" and then ran over to my spot and pressed the shutter. I have to admit that this photo is one of my all-time personal favorites. The color, comp, shallow DOF, Sammy's expression, and pose just gives me goosebumps.

Camera Info:
Aperture: f/2.8
Shutter 1/60
Focal: 160mm
Mode: Aperture Priority
E/V: -0.7

Strobist Info:
SB-900 TTL Mode E/V: 0 1/2 CTO Gel, mini softbox above camera

I dragged the shutter to allow for the ambient light at 7:15PM to act as an accent/rim light

That's a Wrap

Dedicated to Don Mason (a.k.a. OldPro)

On August 16, Devon and I shot some preliminary pictures for our upcoming Project MM. I wasn't happy with my lighting. I re-read Kelby's book and others regarding High Key lighting, but I still couldn't get it right. So I asked advice from Don Mason, a.k.a. OldPro, who is a member of Kern Photography Association. He gave me the detailed instructions on how to use my light meter when taking readings from multiple lights. It made so much sense to me. Fortunately I had a shoot scheduled with Model Mayhem Model Ashley V., the following Sunday.

Ashley asked me to shoot some risque' pictures so she could give them to her husband for his birthday. For trade of photographing Ashley, I asked if she would be interested in doing a high key shoot and she agreed. Simple Clamshell lighting: softbox suspended from my boom, silver reflector placed below aimed up towards Ashley. One benefit of using white sheets is that they also bounce light. I also used barndoors to keep the two background lights from blowing out the sheets. So a total of three lights and a reflector were used to get this shot.

Ashley loved all the pics and I'm sure her husband will too. Hopefully he won't kill me, since he is a soldier. Again, shout out to OldPro, I can't thank you enough for furthering my understanding of Studio lighting. You are a wealth of knowledge.

That's a Wrap!!!

Camera info:
Global E/V set to -3.0 (check the pic on my previous post, but I really don't have much rooom in my garage.)
Shutter: 1/200
Aperture: f/8
ISO 100

Monday, August 17, 2009

Studio In The RAW - Behind the Scenes

This past Sunday, August 16, Devon and I decided to rehearse for our upcoming shoot, Project MM. I've done risque shoots already, but I really needed to work on my lighting. I'm trying to emulate natural lighting for softness. This was Dev's fourth shoot and it is really cool to watch her grow as a model. We shoot some pics, review, and dissect our techniques. Dev mentioned that it is really great that I share what I'm seeing so she can make adjustments. One of the key things to photographing models is to establish a good working rapport, which includes communication and trust.

So this will be a quick post since this was mostly a learning experience for the both of us. I definitely need to work more on my lighting.

I used my softbox as a hair light and then a reflector to bounce it back onto Dev. I then added a fill and set it to 1/8 power. The background light was too distracting and difficult to light up the seamless paper. I needed two pointing at the paper to get a better high key look. So... before our next shoot, I'll probably pick-up one more strobe.

Anyway, stay tuned for our Project MM pictures, most likely it'll be shot the last weekend in August.

That's a Wrap!!!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Hot Devon, Cool Joe

This week's challenge was to do a nighttime shoot. I've been practicing with my gels, shadows and other lighting tools. Awhile back, my FLICKR friend Steve, posted some night shots and shared Dustin Diaz's FLICKR Site. I decided I needed to get out there and do some shooting. Prior to the shoot, I re-read Joe McNally's Hot Shoe Diaries and really liked his "Alley" shoot. I figured I would mimic that shot, but with a slight fashion feel.

I contacted Model Mayhem newbie Devon and asked if she would be interested in shooting with me. She agreed and scheduled the shoot for around 8:00 PM Saturday night. To help build her portfolio, we decided to do a few wardrobe changes from different locales around Bakersfield. My eldest son went along to help me with setting up and breaking down the lighting gear.

We arrived at our first destination at 7:30 PM, the Nile Theater and then ended up near the Fox Theater around 10:00 PM. We wrapped up at 11:00 PM since Devon had another shoot in the morning. Devon was great in both taking direction and giving suggestions. I'm sure we'll be shooting together in the future. I have no doubt she'll be a very busy model.

A majority of the shots were done with my SB-900 in TTL mode as the key with a full CTO and shot through either a mini-softbox or 1/4" HONL honeycomb grid. For additional lighting effects, I used my SB-600 in TTL Mode with a color effects gel. I also set my camera's White Balance to tungsten to given an additional coolness to the background.

What did I learn on this shoot?
Careful when dragging the shutter especially with ambient light. In the shot near the Fox Theater, I placed my softbox between the model and the parking lot Sodium Vapor light, but the light still managed to cast it's glow on her right arm, leaving a blue-ish grey tint and secondary shadow. I probably should have used my other SB-600 as a soft fill, with a full CTO gel, camera left to counteract the light contamination. I need to purchase a LCD loupe since I didn't see the problem on the LCD when I reviewed the picture on-site.

That's a Wrap!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Optimus Prime

This weekend I decided I would challenge myself by using my 50mm 1.8D prime lens for all shoots, minus one for an upcoming shoot. I forgot the beauty of this low light lens. I originally purchased it for my Nikon D60, but rarely used it since it doesn't have AF capability and I definitely need glasses. Especially since I've been a computer guy for over 25 years.

However, with the purchase of my D700, the lens can be Auto-Focused. I have noticed that at f/1.8 the lens isn't tack sharp, but it is close enough and the quality is more than acceptable. So all photos in this blog entry were taken with the 50mm. I would switch to Manual mode for more of a challenge, but then why buy an expensive DSLR? It would be analogous to buying a Ferrari and only driving it on the freeways of L.A. during rush hour.Besides, I do go Manual in my Studio and use my light meter.

What did I learn? Take the time to force yourself and shoot outside your comfort zone by challenging yourself. Maybe I'll get that Brownie camera out and shoot some actual film, or at least my Dad's 35mm Minolta.

That's a Wrap!!!