The Tattoo Project – Sharon

When I arrived at Pixie’s place she had her friend Sharon there for support and assistance. Now I have always said that I have absolutely no objections to models have friends with them on shoots, provided that they don’t interfere in the shoot. In fact I have called on them to assist on more than one occasion or even to model.

In this case it was the latter, because when I say Sharon’s tats and the fifties style of outfit she was wearing I just had to include her. It took a little convincing but with Pixie’s help she because part of the project.

Lighting for these was from the single 7 foot umbrella.

The Tattoo Project – Pixie

Pixie contacted me about taking part in the shoot and as she lived in Whanganui we arranged for me to shoot her on the way back from  the Photographic conference in Stratford.

The original intention had been to shoot Pixie on  the same backdrop as used in the previous shoot so that was packed in the car. But when I arrived at her place that completely changed. She lived in this old villa that was in original condition. The kitchen in particular had an amazing retro feel to it that I knew that I had to shoot her there.

That posed some issues as it was not very large and I was trying to light is using my seven foot umbrella. We managed though. The one issue with using an actual location was that I was getting reflections on the windows from the umbrella.

This was solved using the double tap approach. Basically you take two images in succession. The second one goes off without flash but is such a short duration behind the first that the subject tends not to have moved. You then combine the two images in Photoshop and you use the non-flashed image as the replacement for the windows.

The Tattoo Project – Larissa

Larissa is a tattoo artist herself and when she learned of the project wanted to be involved. When we initially met she was about to have more work done, so we agreed to defer the shoot to allow for this. I ended up shooting her in the same session as Les so it incorporated the same lighting arrangement.

Larissa was a lot more shier than Les so I had to deal with clothing getting in the way of the tatts. You could clearly see how the work was going to evolve over the next year as it was filled in. Unfortunately she moved to Auckland just after the shoot so that opportunity is not available.

The Tattoo Project – Les

When I started planning the Tattoo project I had always envisaged that the starting and ending images in the set would be of traditional Maori moko’s. For my overseas visitors these are tradition tattoos practiced by the original settlers in New Zealand called Maoris. (you can read all about them here on Wikipedia)

Therefore when I saw Les sitting in Lampton Square eating his lunch I managed to find the courage to go an ask him to be part of the project.

Having a full face moko certainly drew attention to Les and he explained to me the significance of it to him. For Maori the tattooing had much more significance than simple body art.

He also said that it was often a conversation starter and he was used to be approached, although people were sometimes hesitant. Part of that is that while tattoos in New Zealand is fairly common generally it only those with criminal connection that cover their faces. Les has tattoos that extend over pretty much over his entire body.

Lighting for the shoot was based on a setup that I learned from Chris Knight. My seven foot umbrella was positioned behind me to fill the details in the shadow and the main accent light was provided by a beauty dish positioned camera right and about 45 degree angle from the subject.

Glitter Boobs Shoot (NSFW)

This shoot happened quite some time ago, but in my slack attitude to posting blog updates got missed. Anyway better late than never.

Sometimes an idea is suggested that sounds so crazy that you just have to get involved. That was certainly the case with the glittery boobs shoot. It started when one of the models involved in the GTC posted in the private Facebook Group that she would keen to do a glitter boob shoot. Basically these are semi-naked shoot where glitter of various size is attached to the body, with larger pieces covering the nipples.

Within the space of a couple of hours she had quite a number of models and photographers all wanting to take part. As the Trentham studio was booked on the day we converted the “Powder room” into the shoot area. The girls and two guys spread a large tarpoline on the carpet and used that area to apply the glitter.

I set you two lights in a standard 45 degree angle and we all took turns using them along with taking the models to other parts of the venue. It was a fun day and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Glitter is a strange substance in that it seems to expand significantly more than what is in the bottle and by the end of  the day it was spread far and wide.

Milk Shoot with Evie (NSFW)

Milk-dressOne of things that attracted me to the Lumix G9 was it’s very high shutter speed and high frame rate. While I was evaluating the camera I did a series of images freezing water at something like 1/2000 second.

Now that I had the camera I wanted to put it through it’s paces and see if I could create a milk dress. This is a relatively simple concept. Find a willing naked model. Thow milk on them taking lots of shots and then in photoshop merge them together to create a dress.

Traditionally the approach is to shoot inside in a studio using flash to freeze the action. The camera is set to the maximum sync speed and it is the shortness of the flash duration that achieves the result. This is effective but it means that you only get one image for each throw.

I wanted to do it completely different and shoot outside under natural light. This let me use a higher shutter speed and more importantly using the burst function meant that I could capture the entire throw.

A facebook post got me a willing model (Evie), a makeup artist (Ania) and two assistants (Peter & Nick), and the shot was set to kick up at 1:00pm.

Knowing that I would be dealing with the potential of harsh light I built a 2 metre x 2 metre scrim out of PVS piping and frost-cloth. All up it costs around $25. Then I bought a sheet of 4×5 metre black polythene that was used as the backdrop. Three pieces of timber were placed under it to create a small pond.

The setup with the overhead scrim and black plastic forming the backdrop and floor
The camera was tethered to the computer which was located in the shade of the garage.

As Evie was going to be wearing heels, I placed a small piece of rubber under her feet so that she would not go through the material.

12 litres of milk was purchased and left in a chilly bin overnight. Several clips that I had seen had recommended that you warm the milk. We did not do that as the forecast temperature for the shoot was 27 degrees so I figured that cooler milk wold be refreshing.

I moved my mac to the garage and tethered the camera to it. This meant that the camera was well away from the mess, and also I could see the images coming off in greater detail. Panasonic has a very good tethering app that lets you have full control over the camera. This was good especially when I discovered that there is no support in Lightroom for tethering from the camera.

Shooting outside is always a challenge. While the day had no wind, cloud kept coming over and that meant that we had to boost ISO to maintain the shutter speeds I wanted.

I had developed a plan of how to place the milk starting from the top down. It took a little time to work out what the appropriate quantity of milk was.

We used various amounts of milk at different stages to get different looks

We ended up shooting for around a hour getting around 500 photos. By this time the milk had got quite warm and was starting to smell. Evie was very grateful when I called the shoot to an end. We initially used the hose to wash her down before she headed to the shower.

Later that night I did a quick edit and picked the bets images and mashed them together. I will probably re-edit is later when I have more time.

Overall for a first effort I am reasonable pleased with the results.