Monday, November 30, 2009

Meanwhile, back in the Studio

It's been about a month since I've shot in my studio, and with the weather getting colder and somewhat unpredictable, I figured I'd brush off my monolights and do my next session in the garage.  Model Mayhem model Jesi messaged me that she wanted to do some lingerie stuff and that she could only shoot when she wasn't working or attending College.

About a week earlier I received a call from an instructor at Frederico College who teaches Hair and Make-up.  He asked if I would be willing to TF* so he could build his portfolio.  Great timing, since I've been looking for a Make-up Artist (MUA) and Hair Stylist (HS) to help with my shoots. So I did a shoot for him using one of his students and also provided him with some prints.  I figured I would ask him to collaborate on my Jesi shoot, which he did willingly.

Jesi met with Angel at the salon and by 6:00 PM was ready for our shoot.  Jesi is a mix of French, Native American Indian, Hispanic and African American.  We decided to do three outfits, black lingerie, white and one she made from candy.  Yup, edible candy.  I think I need some different backgrounds in addition to the muslin and paper, not quite sure what, but maybe some kind of textures.  Anyway, pretty basic shoot using two softboxes, a reflector and accent light.  I use a softbox as a fill light, which is more controlled than an umbrella.  Mostly "Cosmo" lighting and some dramatic lighting, too.  The shoot lasted for about two hours and Jesi was really good with her posing.  For reference purposes, she is 5' 4" and probably 100 lbs when wet.

So what did I learn?

1) Open up one-half stop to a full stop for Jesi since her complexion is a little dark, but I knew that.
2) Get a "space" heater for the garge, it was pretty cool in there to have the fan running.
3) Make snoots for my monolights - There is some spill on her face even though my lights have barn doors.

It was a quick mid-week shoot, and as Jesi was leaving she said I was a good photographer.  My usual response was, "Don't say anything until you see the finished photos."

Quick post, but figured it's been awhile.  Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and is staying healthy.

That's A Wrap!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tashah Toxic

I received a message from a Model Mayhem model who lives in Selma, CA last month.  She asked if I would be willing to work with her and that she was willing to make the two hour drive to Bakersfield.  It's a mixed emotion in agreeing to do the shoot since I felt honored that someone would drive the two hours, but the other was an anxiety to perform. We were originally going to do a "Forbidden Love" themed shoot with Tashah and another female model, but Tashah's friend couldn't make it.  Oh well, the best laid plans...

We started shooting around 3:00 PM in the Kern River bed underneath the 99 HWY.  When we arrived, the city had decided to paint over all the graffiti, which was a minor setback.  We still found some interesting repetitive patterns and some nice lighting.  Most of the work was done with either natural light, or a "strobe on a steek, " as Brian Redden refers to his boom mounted SB-800.  We also fired some shots with Tashah laying on the thistle and thorns of the dry Kern River bed.  This shot was done using Auto-FP 250 via hand-held SB-900 by my son C.J.  It's nice to know that Nikon CLS works even in bright sunlight at about 5 feet away.

Once we finished at the river, we moved to the local skate park.  A lot of kids and skateboards made us leave our gear in the car from fear of either theft, or obliteration. Again, the lighting was mostly hand-held.  This pic has nothing to do with the shoot, but was my first attempt at an Action shot using Rear Curtain Sync,   I believe Canon brands it as Second Curtain Sync.  Basically the BMX rider was doing some cool acrobatics.  I asked C.J. to shoot from 90 degrees and point it at the apex of the ramp.  Anyway, pretty nice effect, so I'll need to try some more action shots at the park.  Anyway,  the light was fading fast and Brian red gel'ed his SB-800 and pointed back towards the camera to create some flare while C.J. used my HONL 1/4" grided SB-900 to light Tashah.  We decided to move to the final location after a half hour of trying to get the right composition, but after arriving the alley was full of cars. 

So off to the brick wall on 19th and "N" streets. Finished up there with the same kind of lighting: SB-800 with HONL 1/4" grid and 1/4 CTO gel. Two SB-600s for background, both gel'ed and gobo'ed. This is one of my favorites because of Tashah's sister's expression.We shot for about an hour and then called it quits.  Afterwards we all went out for sushi, reviewed pics and had a good time.
So what did I learn:
1) It's okay to use Manual Mode with Nikon CLS during night shoots, previously I would use Aperture Priority and mess around with the E/V, but just switching to Manual made the shoot go faster.
2) Use that fourth Speedlight if you need it, and have it.  Not that I have four speedlights, but combined, Brian and I have six speedlights.

Fun shoot with Tashah, and I'm glad she drove down from Fresno to work with me.  Have a Happy Holiday and ...
... That's a Wrap!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Medicine Woman

This past Saturday, I had a shoot with a co-worker who wanted some photos for her husband.  I won't disclose her age, but she is older than my usual models.  IMHO, her youthful appearance is probably due to her Korean-American ethnicity.  I've been told that we, Asians, appear younger than our years.  I know, digression. Anyway, we planned the shoot about two months ago and finally the day arrived.  The weather was overcast, breezy and in the high 40's, but was a nice 45 minute drive up to Tehachapi, CA.

Upon arrival, she gave me a tour of the house and rooms we could use to shoot.  She also showed me around her property which is built on a hilltop and overlooks Tehachapi and Keene.  Back inside she showed me some photos she pulled from a magazine that she wanted to emulate and also a quick review of her chosen wardrobe.

We did mostly indoor shooting due to the weather, but managed to get some nice natural light shots.  I used my new Interfit Tri-reflector portrait holder/stand.  It worked really well since it has two swiveling arms aside from the center mount reflector holder that allows you to create wraparound light.  The above shot was done with all natural light coming from the French doors camera right, at about 1:00 o'clock.  The reflector was stand was at about 7, and each arm was positioned at 9 and 5, respectively.

The next shot was done with two strobes.  One in a mini-softbox and 1/4 CTO Gel Camera left 45 degrees with the reflectors in the same position.  I placed another flash outside pointing back in at about one o'clock facing the reflectors and just high enough to create lens flare.  Lens flare, as I mentioned in my shoot with Sarah seems to be a fad right now in photography.  I still haven't honed it in yet, but I'm getting closer.The flashes were both set at 1.0 E/V TTL and the camera E/V was set at -0.7.

After awhile she changed and we went outside to shoot in the weeds.  It was still chilly and breezy, so we only spent about ten minutes outside to get this next shot.  It was done with an SB-900 in a mini-softbox and a 1/4 CTO Gel camera right about 45 degrees and a gold reflector placed on the ground below the flash, just out of camera sight. Flash was TTL Model 1.0 E/V and Camera at -0.3 E/V.  I made sure that we shot at 1/60 of a second to make sure we brought in some ambient light on the weeds.  I really like this photo because it reminds me of a 1940's Technicolor film.  Although not identical to the Jane Russell pin-up shot, it has that same kind of feel.  Anyway, we both were freezing, so we ran indoors to finish the rest of the shoot.  I'll amend this post once I finish processing a pic from her last wardrobe change.  That series consisted of all three speedlights, two for key and fill and the third for accent.

What did I learn? Honestly, noting comes to mind that is worth noting.  I really didn't struggle with anything during our shoot aside from the weather.  Things I would like to have for my next shoot are:
1) My eldest to help with my gear, set-up and breakdown.  Our actual shooting time was about two hours, but I spent an hour setting up and breaking down equipment and lighting gear.
2) The combo dolly/stepladder too keep all my stuff together and also to get a higher vantage point when shooting
3) That darn Hoodman Loupe

So ends another fun shooting session with a fun co-worker and more experience with "On Location" photography.  Thanks for reading and ....

...well you know my usual closing statement.  Peace Out!!!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

That's What Friends Are For

I had a make up shoot Sunday, November 1 with Model Mayhem Model DieForSarahLynn.  We were supposed to shoot back in September, but some how got our messages crossed.  Anyway, we scheduled the shoot and my key grip (a.k.a. my son C.J.) had to go to work, so fortunately my photographer friend Teresa (a.k.a. HyeStyleShots) was available.  I scheduled the shoot for 3:00 PM since we had to fall back to Standard time, and I wanted to get some Golden Hour shots.  This shoot consisted of three locations and three wardrobe changes for Sarah Lynn.  I did my usual deserted road stuff, but really wanted to get some lens flare and heavy backlighting.  One caveat with shooting directly toward the sun with an Autofocus camera is that the sun deflects the light returning back to the sensor.  So basically it's better to go Manual.  I used a trick my Dad showed me and that's to Zoom all the way in on the eyes and try to get tack sharp, and then zoom back out.  As you can see in the first pic, I got some flare, but not enough to create the colorful spheres that you see in some shots.  Also, Teresa used a gold reflector to act as a fill and the sun provided some killer rim lighting.  Sarah's hair is bleach blonde, so it gets easily blown out.  We had some really good shots and some funny ones, especially when an 18-wheeler blew by Sarah and the wind almost knocked her backwards.

We shot for about 40 minutes and moved to an abandoned auto repair shop.  Again, mostly ambient light, but did use an SB-900 with a 1/4 CTO gel and 1/4" honeycomb grid.  I liked this local, but it was really close to a busy street so I couldn't far enough away for some full body Selective Focus shots. Sarah definitely attracted the attention of passing cars with her beautiful looks and killer tattoos.  I must say that I'm not attracted to women with tattoos, but Sarah has a sleeve that is very beautiful and similar to  Yakuza-style tattoos.  We did mostly mixed lighting, with the sun acting as a key light and the SB-900 as the fill light.

After about 45 minutes the sun began setting and I really wanted to get to the abandoned motel to finish our shoot.  I've eaten many times at the restaurant that sits on the corner of the street, which blocks this old Bates-style motel (constructed like the Motel in the original Hitchcock movie Psycho).   I knew I wanted to use my SB-600 with a green gel to give the motel an eerie feeling.  My friend Teresa suggested I try to light the Motel sign.  So, I laid on the ground positioned the green gelled SB-600  speedlight out of frame, camera left and had Teresa hold the SB-900 (in a mini-softbox and 1/4 CTO Gel) camera right 45 degrees, and vertically.  We shot for about another half hour until it was 5:30 and called it a day.  I went manual mode instead of Aperture Priority because I needed to drag the shutter and get more ambient light into the shot.  Interesting thing about Bakersfield air pollution, it makes for purplish haze at dusk instead of a deep indigo. Teresa has a great sense of humor, which makes her a fun person to shoot with. As I was laying down on the dirty, broken glass strewn sidewalk, Teresa yelled, "Watch out!!! you are laying on a condom!!!"

So what did I learn?
1) An the roadside shoot, don't go to 24mm, the vignetting stinks and it's hard to control the exposure. Several of the shots had some blown highlights.  I did remove the lens hood since that creates some real intense vignetting.
2) Purchase the Hoodman Loupe and get the other SB-600 repaired.  The bright sun makes it hard to see the LCD panel, and I really wanted one more gel for the motel, but since I broke my other SB-600 I've been sacrificing some of my creativity

Anyway, thank you for reading my blog, and I  hope you learn some stuff along the way.  Shout out to both Sarah Lynn for being a GREAT and patient model, and to Teresa for being a great assistant!!!  Hopefully Sarah will work with me again.  She is definitely photogenic and I'd like to do some "softer" type looks with her.

That's a Wrap!!!