Category Archives: Fashion

Melissa and the chicken

With the ice skater and flower shoots done now turned her attention to some images that Melissa asked to be taken with one of her chickens. She changed into a a simple gypsy style outfit for this part of the shoot. The chicken had been caught earlier and it spent the time inside of a pet carriage case.

As I wanted a more classical look to the image I put a painted backdrop over the white that we have previously used and pulled out the background lights. I repositioned the main light into Rembrandt orientation and match this with a reflector to provide a little fill.

There is an old saying in Hollywood that you should never work with children or animals and I’m afraid it was true in this case. In hindsight we probably should have got the chicken out of the garden shortly before we were shooting with it, rather than leaving it in the cage through the other two shoots.

As a result when it came out of the parks it really it really didn’t want to sit still.

In fact it decided that it wanted to be a parrot and sit on Melissa’s shoulder.

Despite all the challenges it was a fun shoot.

Melissa and the flowers

A couple of days before I was to shoot with Melissa she asked me if it was okay if the second photographer (Clara) could join us at the shoot. Clara had an idea that they wanted to use but had no lighting gear. I had no problem in helping another photographer out so I said it was fine and I would show Clara how to use my lights.

Clara’s idea was to shoot Melissa topless with a bunch of flowers strategically hiding her breasts. However when she arrived the small bunch of fake flowers she had were not gonna be sufficient, so while I was doing the skater shoot with Melissa she went off to the supermarket bought a bigger bunch.

There was no need to alter the lighting setup with two lights on the backdrop and a main on Melissa. Although Clara was shooting with a Canon, the trigger I have worked seemlessly.

When I am shooting away from the studio I always take a back up camera which in this case was my Nikon d600. I also had my Lensbaby in the bag as well. I therefore decided to fit it and take some shots as I didn’t need to use the studio lights. The Lensbaby is quite tricky to focus it does produce an awesome result.

After Clara had finished I decided to take the trigger back and shoot some images of my own back on the Panasonic G9.

However in these I got Melissa to pose in completely different ways to what Clara had done so that she would have some alternative images. As it turned out these were the only images that Melissa got from the session.

I never actually saw the images that Clara shot so I’m not sure whether she actually got what she was wanting or not. Nor why she never gave any images to Melissa.

Melissa – the ice skater

The majority of my shoots generally involve me coming up with a concept and then recruiting a model to take part. However, I’m more than happy to work the other way round and for the model to suggest something that I then shoot.

This was the case with Melissa when I answered a message she posted on the Facebook group seeking a photographer. Melissa is a Wellington based model and actress, and she was looking for some updated photos to go into her portfolio. We had a brief discussion about what we would do and then set up a time for me to go to her place and do the shoot. We ended up doing three very different looks so I have split the shoot into three posts.

While I enjoy the challenge of working in a new environment it does mean that the car gets loaded with a lot of gear because he never actually know what he will actually use. Melissa had indicated that she wanted some photos shot against a white background. My seamless paper was actually too wide to transport so I settled on a white sheet.

The key to having a clean white background is to ensure that it is well lit and so I decided to position two lights on it. When shooting in my home studio my lights are in 1 m² soft boxes however there was not sufficient width in the space for me to position the two of them. I therefore removed the soft box from one light and shot with it in a small reflector. As this meant that the light was emitting more light, it was set at a slightly lower power than the other one so that the light was roughly even. The main light was positioned camera lift using the 65 cm soft box with double diffusion.

Melissa wanted to portray her versatility as an actor and so she created a character with some of the props that she owned. She turned into a former Russian Olympic ice skater who was now slightly past the prime of her career.

I have shot with actors a couple of times and they are really great as they can bring lots of different expressions to the images. Furthermore they will actually go with a concept rather than a model that you may have to direct.

Part of Melissa’s costume was a long scarf and so I could not resist using it as a mass that lets you focus solely on the eyes. I have shot such images on a number of occasions and I really enjoy the look and power that comes with them.

While not part of the original concept with Melissa as I was processing the images I realised that as they were shot against a clean background they were perfect candidates to be used in composite.

I generally try to use my own images for composite is that an April sent to be entered into competitions in this case I did not have any images of snow ice or ice drinks. So I went onto unsplash.com to search for some images. This is a site where photographers upload images and allow them to be downloaded without charge royalty free. I found a number of images that I though might work and after clear cutting Melissa out I added as the background.

While I like the image above I found that the image worked better in an interior location such as the ice rink.

I was really pleased with the way the images came out.

Marianne’s Water Shoot

When Marianne and I started discussing options for her shot she said that she wanted to have a water look and showed me some examples that had clearly been shot in a shower. I agreed that we could do something similar and set to work figuring out how to do it.

Now the simple solution would be to shoot in an actual bathroom. Have done this is the past but one of the main issues you run into with such a shoot is having enough room to position the subject and lighting to the way that you want.

Fortunately I had an easy solution. When our main bathroom has been renovated, after a burst pipe, we had completely changed the shower. I had kept the door panel from the old shower as a possible prop for exactly this circumstances. So by using some upright supports and clamps, I was actually able to replicate a shower.

I chose an area under a large tree because this minimised the amount of natural light and let me have better control over the overall light. Generally speaking I will set the camera to remove all ambient light for only flash is used. When shooting outside this becomes more difficult and therefore any technique to limit the amount of natural light helps.

The main lighting was provided by two speed lights that were positioned on either side of Marianne and aimed so that they did not spill onto the glass. In order to avoid reflections on the front of the glass I positioned a large black backdrop behind the camera. As it turned out the light provided from the flash eliminated any reflections on the side of the glass facing the camera.

As we were not planning to shoot full body we positioned a stool and Maryann set on that. That gave the advantage that the lights and focus could be pretty much locked into place.

It was now a matter of applying the water. We used a spray bottle to apply water to both the glass and to Marianne and started shooting.

The glass worked really well and it is was a relatively simple setup so I am sure that I will use it again.

I then changed the setup to see if we could use it to replicate a model being under water. I had shot Megan a number of years before but that was in an actual bath.

I placed a tarpaulin on the ground and set the door on top of two boxes that made it high enough for Marianne to go under. I then positioned the camera on a boom and lights on either side of her. We then filled the top of the glass with about 1cm of water.

To try to mimic the water effect we placed a rolled up towel under Marianne’s neck so that her head was at the right angle. We then started to do a series of images before the local insect population decided were were on their dinner menu, and we were forced to call it quits.

While I ended up with some usable images I would have to say that work is still needed before I would be really happy with the technique. There were two main issues one of which is easier to solve than the other.

The first was that there was two much distance between the water and Marianne. By the time I had focused on her, the water essentially disappeared as it was completely out of focus. The result was an image that just looked soft. The answer would be to close the distance between the glass and subject.

The second issue in not so easy to fix. That is that the body changes shape when it is lying on the ground as opposed to being supported in water. Not sure what we do with that one.

Even though I didn’t come out with images exactly as I had hoped it was still a fun experiment to do.

Marianne in the Red Dress

When Marianne and I went to the old science labs to do the levitation shoot I decided to pack another dress so that we could make the most of the location. As I expected she looked stunning in it.

We started in the same room as the other shots but this time I was using a single light which was positioned camera right in a rough Rembrandt location. This did present one slight challenge when I was shooting into a wall of windows as you clearly see in the image below.

The answer to this was to use the “double tap” technique that I have posted about in the past. Basically you take two shots in rapid fire. The flash will fire on the first but the second shot will occur before it has recharged. The second shot is then used to replace the glass in the area where the flash is visible.

We then moved to another room that had a complete wall of glass that was letting in lots of light. This meant that I could expose just for the ambient and the flash was not needed.

This had the advantage of being able to shoot multiple shots with Marianne walking. I find that option the best shots are obtained when you allow your subject to move freely rather than being posed.

In post I did have to remove some of the signs that were still on the wall as they were somewhat distracting.

I then noticed that the passageway outside of the room was rather dark so we decided to do something a little ghostly. I took the camera right up to f22 and set a 4.0s exposure. I then had Marianne stand out of the shot. When the shutter was pressed she slowly walked into the screen holding for about a second. The created a very ghostly image.

We then moved into what must have been an old freezer room which was completely dark. we used the same setting of f22 for 4s but this time I fired the flash at a very low setting twice.

This created a very unusual double exposure.

For the final series of images we moved to a passageway that ran between two of the buildings. This had glass on both sides so again we were able to shoot without the need of flash.

Overall the venue worked really well and we were able to get a good variety of shots within a small space and time.

Noah (mildly NSFW)

Regular readers will know that I am a member of the Fashion Collective which is a group of models, designers, makeup artists and photographers who get together and collaborate on projects.

Occasionally the group will have hang out sessions in one of the studios and anyone who wants to shoot can arrange something on the spot. It was at one such gathering that I met Noah.

We started off grabbing a number of items from the clothing collection and then headed into the studio that has a bedroom scene as one of the sets.

This enabled us to do a boudoir shoot in a space set up so that it had room for lights. In this case I was using two lights with fill light being provided by a large umbrella, and a smaller softbox as the main light .

Noah had a very European look so after a quick wardrobe change we headed up to the French Cafe in the grandstand and shot using natural light. I felt that the image was always going to be best in black & white.

At the top of grandstand ramp there is an area that appears to a wind trap for leaves and so we made good use of it.

For the final image in the sequence I wanted to portray Noah as a determined and confident person, and what better way that having her striding down the ramp.

Sam joins the shoot with Shelley

As I mentioned in my previous post (https://pwfotos.com/2019/03/17/shelley-in-lingerie/), Sam Moredo came out to our shoot to be the makeup artist. She is also a model and a dancer and many of her other recent shoots have involved a combination of the two.

Shelley had bought a range of lingerie with her and fortunately several of the pieces were from a similar set, so we talked Sam into taking part. While I shot the initial set with Shelley, Sam applied makeup in a similar style so that both girls were consistent.

By this stage the sun was really coming through and so I tried to place a large diffuser panel in its general directions to try to block some of it. This was partially successful. While the main light was still the Godox AD600 in the seven foot umbrella, I was finding that the light was a little uneven especially on Sam.

I initially tried to position a reflector to the left of the camera, and use the sun, but this was not working so I mounted a light on the other side of the fence and angled to to bounce off the reflector. At first this was done bare bulb, but that was creating too many shadows on the back wall, so I put it into a softbox so that I could control the spill better.

Shelley in lingerie

Shelley-Ann is a relatively new member of the Fashion Collective, who answered a casting call from me. We had arranged to do a series of shots and as the second one involved the use of my paddling pool, we started them all around my back yard. We roped in another member of the Fashion Creative, Sam Moredo to do the makeup for the shoot.

We have an area at the back of the section with a very large tree and our woodshed which provided a great location.

The weather for the whole day had been extremely changeable, with short runs of blue skies followed by rain. I initially started using my Godox speed light in a 24″ softbox for the initial shots but then brought in the Godox AD600 and out it in the seven foot Westcott umbrella. There was just enough room under the trees for it to fit.

Towards the end of this section of the shoot, the cloud decided to break and sunlight started to stream through resulting in very strong differences between light and shadow.

All wrapped up (NSFW)

By means that I won’t go into I came in my possession a whole lot of music tapes that were destined for landfill. So I thought could I use them in a shoot, and the answer was yes. Several nights of extracting the tapes gave me a large container full of them.

After the original model for the shoot bailed twice, I arranged to shoot with Verity. We started in the bathroom using the tape in place of water in the bath.

Then we moved out to a set I had created in the garage and shot a slightly different look starting with using the tape as a dress. It created a unique look, but probably not one for wearing in the wind.

I then changed it up and brought in some of the empty cassette cases.

Lighting for the bath shoot was a single godox strobe in a 24″ beauty dish. Lighting in the other location was a 7″ umbrella behind me to provide a base light and a beauty dish camera right.

Shoot out at the Dakota

Dakota-5Of of the great things about being part of a creative collective is that opportunities come about to shoot in unusual locations. This was the case of a shoot in a cowboy themed bar in Wellington. We were given the opportunity to spend several hours in there before the bar opened.

It was great working with models Rachel, Hayley and Michael both individually and together.

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Rachel

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Michael & Rachel

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Michael & Rachel

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Rachel rides the mechanical bull

Lighting for the series was mainly done with a single Godox AD600 strobe in a 24″ beauty dish.

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Rachel with a quick change

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Rachel & Hayley