Sunday, February 6, 2011

Let's Get Physical!!!

Purple Poly Hoodie

At the close of 2010, I was approached by a business owner, via Model Mayhem, inquiring if I would be willing to photograph his products. As excited as I was about this opportunity, I also knew that it would move me from a "shoot when I want" philosophy towards a "shoot when I want, but it better be today" mentality.

Oh Ashley

Being new to that "type" of work, I'm struggling to meet my "Client's" expectations while satisfying my photographic desires. Aside from shooting the product in a different style, you have to do a frontal shot that is well-lit, and a 3/4 shot to show the garments fit.  It may not sound like much, but each one creates a different lighting opportunity.

Luckily, last Thursday a model I photographed in the past, needed some images for her new client who is trying out as a Fitness Model.  Finally, the perfect opportunity to help out a newbie model and also provide some images to my "Client."

Black Burnout Wide Neck

The doorbell rang around 3:30PM, Sunday afternoon.  As I opened the door, I was greeted by the two young ladies armed with bags and suitcases.  Whoa!!! that's a lot of clothes.  Actually that site tends to be the "norm" when doing a shoot.  I guess it's akin to playing "dress up."  The model's make-up was stellar and her physique was outstanding.

The shoot lasted about three hours and had multiple clothing changes and looks.  She needed at least four decent images and I wanted to focus on at least two sets of clothes for my client.  As the session wore on, Ashley became more relaxed and her posing was more natural. We did numerous poses, lighting adjustments, wardrobe changes, make-up touch-ups, hair styles, etc...

80's Shape

So what did I learn?
  • Get casters for my light stands - I've got some heavy-duty boom  stands and moving them around is laborious, I'm not as young as I used to be and rolling them around would be easier
  • Create a shot sheet ahead of time- Moving from the floor, to seated, to standing poses requires lighting adjustments, in my opinion. Also, being the first time shooting with a model you need to quickly asses what lighting works best for their facial structure and with time constraints the shoot can be hectic, so make a checklist!!!
  • Have the wardrobe ready to go - I bought a rolling wardrobe rack so I could organize my client's products by size, style and color.  It makes it easier when I'm looking for color combos
  • Above all, have fun!!! - Compliment the model to help build her confidence, "chimp" ocasionally, but not enough to break the rhythm
A majority of this session was shot using the following light modifiers:
  • 22" White High-Output Beauty Dish - Key
  • 2 - Strip Boxes - Rim and Accent
  • 2 - Reflectors and Barndoors for High-Key Background
  • Ring Flash - Fill
Ashley: Headshot

I do get questions and compliments about my lighting and all I can say is, "Read blogs, don't live by a perfect "bell" shape on your Histogram, and practice, practice, practice"

It's been awhile since I photographed a model that made it easy for me, specifically Darnah, but this being Ashley's first time I can tell that she will do really well.  Good luck with your pursuit of becoming a fitness model, Ashley and "That's A Wrap!!!"

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A PEN and a Pancake

Back in September '10 my father bought me an Olympus PEN e-PL1 as an early birthday present.  Earlier that day, my Dad asked if I wanted anything for my birthday and I mentioned that I wanted a simple, lightweight camera that I could carry around and shoot everyday without lugging around my D700; a convenience camera!!! I had several Point-N-Shoots in the past and disliked the lack of control you had over taking pictures.

I read some reviews and almost bought the Canon G11, but then read the reviews of the Olympus PEN and checked it out at Best Buy.  It has a hot-shoe and full Manual controls, which means I can pop my Pocket Wizard on it and trigger any of my strobes, or speedlights.

So I brought it along on my Trash The Dress Session with Nikki and shot a few images:

Took it to Vegas and played with the Tilt-Shift Effect:

Brought it to a Penguins vs. Ducks Hockey Game:

Did a Strobist shot by triggering my SB-900 with the PEN's built-in flash:

Another Strobist image that made FLICKR's Explore:

Then I got busy, packed it away and forgot about it from November through December.  During that time, Teresa bought me a new lens for my D700, the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G lens.  That Nikkor lens is phenomenal, and the ability to shoot wide open in low-light quickly, was unparalleled.  That's what was missing, something to create killer bokeh in low-light.  The kit lens that comes with the PEN is a 14mm - 42mm and works nicely, but has an f-stop range from 3.5 - 5.6.  So, I checked out the Olympus web-site and found out that they make a "pancake" lens that's a 17mm and f/2.8, but all the reviews mentioned that the lens was just decent.

With a little more research, I found out that Panasonic makes a LUMIX Micro 4/3rd 20mm f/1.7 lens that's really sharp, fast, has some decent bokeh and is compatible with my PEN.  I found a good deal on one, bought it and now I carry that camera/lens combination everywhere.  Based on the sensor size, the angle of view on a Micro Four-Thirds Camera (Olympus PEN) is basically double a 35mm camera.  This kinda applies to the Aperture, too.  So the images taken with my PEN and the Pancake lens would be close to shooting a 40mm lens at f/3.4 on a 35mm camera.

Here are some images taken with that "combo":

Are you noticing a "Coffee" theme?

So be careful if you see me around town, I may be taking your picture with my favorite "walkabout" camera.
That's A Wrap!!!

P.S. My buddy Rob had a studio shoot with his friend Natashia, Thursday Feb. 3 at Studio in the RAW.  So I joined along and photographed Natashia with my PEN and a Pocket Wizard:


A Behind-The-Scenes Lighting set-up for the above image: