Tag Archives: Models

Foil shoots with Sian (Setting up).

This will be a post in three parts. The first will go over the setup for the shoot ans the other two will cover the actual shoots. As such you will not see any finished images in this post. Rather the images will show the progress of the setup.

If you keep an eye out it is quite possible to acquire interesting props from the most unusual materials. What I was working for Whittaker’s Chocolate I visited Lamprint which in one of the companies that print the chocolate wrappers. 

Labels are printed on a large roll several across and then in the final part process they cut into secret rolls. At either side of the main roll there is an amount of silver left over. This was being cut off and put in a bag for dumping.

When I saw it I instantly thought it would be great to repeat my tape shoot but this time with reflective metal and coloured lights. So I asked if I could have some foil. 

The next day Shaun delivered a small bag to me. I said thanks, but told him that I was thinking of a much larger quantity. The next day he came back with the larger amount.  Now ideally I would have had a shoot sorted out straight away, but in reality the bag sat in the garage for quite a few months, until my wife got sick of it and told me I needed to use it and then get rid of it.

The full bag of foil spread across the floor.

So I when Sian came round for the Dressmaker shoot I asked if she would like to do a shoot using the foil and she agreed.  I also found out that her star sign was cancer, which is one of the water signs so I knew that I could make the foil look like water with the right lighting. 

When my daughter left home, I claimed the family room back as my studio. The great advantage of this was that I could set it up over a number of days rather than trying to do everything in one go. It also means that I can take my time setting lights and trying different combinations before the model actually comes. In this respect my dress dummy is quite useful, although I have to be careful as it is shorter than a regular person.

As I knew we were going to be shooting two different concepts in the same session, I want to minimise changeover so I hung the backdrop for the second session and then placed a blue fabric over it for the first. I needed three pieces of fabric to do this and while they did not match that didn’t matter as the background would be fairly dark anyone.

I also placed blue fabric on the floor before covering it with the foil. This is because I had planned to shoot from above at some stage and I wanted the flexibility. Having the blue meant that if it did show through it would fit with the theme rather than work against it.

It was now time to set the lighting. I had planned a three light setup and when I use such a combination I always add them one light at a time. I start with a setting and shutter speed that will eliminate all of the ambient light in the room. That ended up being 1/100 at f6.3.

The setting that removed all ambient light.

I has positioned two lights near the floor to light the foil and these were both covered with blue gels. There was no real metering to these lights. rather they were adjusted until I got a look I was going for.

Light left
Right light

The main light was my Godox AD600 in the 24″ softbox on a boom arm. During the testing it was positioned camera right. It was providing quite a nice light and was also picking up some of the background. This was not an issue as I was going to replace the background anyway.

All lights in play

The advantage of taking the time ahead of time was that when Sian arrived we were pretty much ready to shoot. In fact the only change was to reposition the main light from camera right to camera left.

In my next post I will cover the first shoot with Sian, which was for the Zodiac series.

che in the woolshed

On the weekend away to the Glenburn Station, the organisers has arranged for Che to join again to model. After looking around the wool shed in the morning I knew that it would be a great location, so I arranged for Che to meet me before the others arrived. That way I was not competing with the other photographers, and I could help them if they needed it.

Despite the fact that I had brought lighting gear with me, I had worked out that there were pools of natural light in the building that could be used and we made the most of them.

Che bought a couple of outfits but I have chosen to only feature one here.

setting up “the dressmaker”

The built set.

This post will be quite different to others in that it will not contain any finished images. Rather it will go into the process that went into a set of images that tell a story. The actual images will be in the next post.

A number of years ago I saw a brilliant image of a girl using a sewing machine in a moonlit attic. It set a seed that took several years to come to fruition (over three in fact). I knew that I wanted to do an image of a girl and a sewing machine. As it developed it turned into a sort of Cinderella story and eventually became a series I have called “The Dressmaker”.

The first prop, the sewing machine was bought three years ago at the Petone Fair. A second hand shop was selling them off for $20.00. They were leftover when the tables they were originally sitting on were turned into furniture. I bought the machine and it sat in our storage for years.

The machine

Then this year a number of events came together that made me decide to do the shoot.

The first was my daughter leaving home which meant our family room could be used as a studio to shoot in, and the set could be left up. I knew that to make the image look realistic then staging was important.

The second was a chance visit to my works printers where I saw a pile of wooden crates that had packed some new machines they were installing. I thought that it would be create to use to create movable walls, (as well as providing materials to reline our garage), so I asked if I could have them. They said yes and I was shocked when I got home to find a large pile. It took four nights to denail it so that we could get the ply under cover.

What was a pleasant surprise was the state of the timber that had been used to make the frames. There were lengths that looked just like flooring.

There was other timber that I was able to use to build a table for the sewing machine on. The top proved tricky as the bottom of the sewing machine was not a consistent shape. The machine was quite heavy so the table had to be engineered to carry the weight.

The completed table

I had worked out that two ply sheets were sufficient to build a workable wall but how to safely stand them up took some thinking. Initially I was going to build a floor bracket for them to slot into. I had seen other floor standing walls work in similar form. The problem was that such brackets need to be suitable size to handle the weight.

I then realised that if I took one of the left over lengths of timber I could drill some holes through it, and mount it on top of my existing background supports. Then the ply could be safely clamped to it. This worked perfectly. Once upright I used a roll of wallpaper bought from an Op shop to cover the ply and particular the join between the two panels.

The cross support

The final piece to fall into place was when I went to the Hutt Camera Club shoot at Fort Balance. The model Che wore a red dress that had a really long train. When I saw it I knew it was perfect for my shoot, so at the end of the shoot it ended up in my car.

Che and the red dress

I had already obtained cocoa bean shacks from my work as I had intended to use them in a model shoot. I therefore felt I had all of ingredients for the shoot.

From previous work I knew that Kimberley would be perfect for my dressmaker, so I posted a casting call on Facebook and ended up selecting a model for her client.

Sian, who I have shot on a number of occasions also said she was interested. She proved to a lifesaver when the model I had cast pulled out two hours before the shoot was to happen.

The shoot was scheduled and I started to build the set. I had worked out the camera angle and the lighting so as each piece was put into place I could see how it looked in the viewfinder.

To hide the walls in our family room I attached a second backdrop rail at a 90 degree to the ply and hung some old curtain material. To hide the edge of the flooring I used old suitcases and then on shoot day added some more sacks.

I had wanted to borrow a portable clothes stand for the dresses but could locate one so ended up building one from more of the left over timber.

The clothes rack support

It probably took the best part of two hours to get everything into place before I put in the lights. My fill light was my Godox AD600 in a 1.5 metre softbox positioned just to camera left. My main light was one of my Elinchrom set up high camera left and positioned above the end of the clothes rack. This light was gelled orange.

One of my recent purchases was a Godox receiver which should have worked with the transmitter on the camera. It was plugged into the back of the Elinchrom and should have triggered it at the same time as the other Godox lights. For some reason this didn’t work and the Elinchrom was firing after the main light, meaning that it was not having any impact on the shoot. Fortunately the Elinchrom has built in optical slaves which work perfectly.

For the shots of Kimberly on her own I wanted to give the impression of candlelight so I had a third light that was gelled orange, and in a gridded reflector to cast a very targeted light.

Tomorrow I will show you the finished series.

post covid get together

For my readers outside of New Zealand, our country response to the Covid-19 pandemic was to go into lockdown hard and early. While the economy has taken a hit, our health system didn’t, and we ended up with around 1,500 cases and 22 deaths. The vast majority of those deaths occurred in two aged demetia facilities.

Kate

The benefit of these action is that we last had a case over 20 days and last Sunday (June 7) the last active case recovered. That meant that from Tuesday we could enter our new normal.

Kimbre Viviers

While the borders are closed life within New Zealand could return to a sense of normal. So much so, that over the weekend 60,000 people attended two rugby games, something that other countries can only dream about.

Kelly Kim Harrouk

For portrait photographers to lock down was hard as rely on interacting with our subjects. So as soon as the restrictions were fully lifted a Sunday Club for the Fashion Collective was organised. It was great to be able to meet up with people with no need for social distancing.

Nicola removes the hair arrangement from Kimbre

Adding to the afternoon was the fact that Charlotte Kelleher of CKFilmDesign had brought along some period costumes that her team had made. Combining those items with hair by Wei Jiang and makeup by Nicola Robinson and you could not help but take great images.

Jordan L Rivers

While the studio is full of lighting, the triggers that it used did not work on my camera so I could use them. I had taken my own lights but that was a bit of hassle with so many people present. So with the exception of the image of Jordan above, all of the others shots were taken using the ambient light in the room. Fortunately my G9 is pretty good at handling lighting conditions.

Neen

In addition to Charlotte, one of the other regular’s, Neen also brought some costumes so I shot her in one of the outfits.

It was great being able to socialise and shoot without any restrictions or fear. I have joined in with Zoom sessions with photographers in the USA and I know that they are far from being able to do that.

Che at fort balance

Back before the world went crazy with Covid-19, I joined up with members of Hutt Camera Club for a Saturday field trip to Fort Balance on the Miramar Peninsula.

Fort Balance is one of a number of gun emplacements scattered around the entrance to the harbour, and unlike Palmer Head still has a lot of graffiti. I had seem in used in lots of shoots but never got there myself. It was built in 1886 as a result of fears that the Russians would invade.

Figuring that there would be areas inside the complex I packed my Godox speed light and strobe. This meant that I could shoot by myself rather than having others shooting over my shoulder.

The trip organiser also brought along Che who is one of her regular models along with quite a collection of dresses.

When we arrived at the location I dropped the gear and spent a good ten minutes looking around before even picking up the camera. This time let me sort out the types of shots I was looking for. I also spotted two areas that I thought had good possibilities.

This shot totally relied on the strobes as this room was in complete darkness.

One was a stair case that had walls on both sides covered with graffiti. I had my wide angle lens with me and I used the distortion it created to use the walls as wings.

The second was a brightly painted wall that matched the colour of the second dress Che was wearing.

Che is only 14 and therefore does occasional slip into goofy behaviour. I thought that we could capture that with the help of one of the largest pieces of art on the walls. The result is the image below


Overall it was a pleasant outing with good company. I plan on going back to Fort Balance at some stage in the future.

playing with lights with lauren

The final round of the 2019 Hutt Camera club completion asked for images that reflected movement. I wanted to do this using lights and particularly the combination of a long exposure with a pop of flash at the end so that you get both movement and frozen action in the same image.

One of the elements that I had acquired after we ran the national convention was a hula hoop with LED lights inside it. I posted for a model who could handle the hula and Lauren answered the call.

We set up a shoot in the garage which was a lot of fun because this is essentially a trial and error process with no two images being the same. Given that it would be very difficult to focus I set F8 as an aperture as this gave me a decent depth of field. Lauren was given a spot to stand on and with the lights on I focused on her in manual mode.

I started out with no light and took some tests shots of the hula spinning until I was happy with the result which was achieved with a 2 second exposure. We had to match the speed of the hula with the exposure. If the hoop was spring too fast or the exposure too long then you ended up with more of a blur (as in the image above).

For the full body shots the lighting was provided by strobes in a large softbox. These were metered to f8 so as to be balanced.

After some initial shots we then tried to mix it up and try to get the effect of a light dress. This entitled telling Lauren when to stop spinning and opening the shutter at the same time. This meant that the movement was in one direction.

At the end of the evening I tried something completely different. I put the light in a seven inch reflector with a grid and focused it at Lauren’s face. I then got her to move the hula in a pattern around her face. The image that was chosen was literally the last one taken on the night.

In the assessing it received a “commended” which gained me enough points to win the Advanced Grade Digital Photographer for the third time.

In the chasm with moana

Towards the end of last year I joined up with a number of other photographers, makeup artists and models for a day trip over to the Patuma Chasm in the southern Wairarapa.

This is an amazing open cave system in the middle of a farm.

For my shoots I was teamed up with Moana (who I had shot before). Over the course of a hour she went through several costume changes as we worked ourselves deeper into the chasm.

She never complained once even though the water was fairly cool.

Given that we were walking through water to get to each spot I was travelling very light. In addition to the camera I brought a single Lume Cube to provide light as I knew this was water resistant.

In the final image we had ventured a reasonable way into the cave and it was quite dark. I then spotted a point in the water that was being lit by sunlight coming through a small gap in the walls and trees. This produced a natural spotlight to use.

Three shoots in the bath (NSFW)

I have always enjoyed doing shoots that involve water, and when it is too cold to shoot with the pool outside will resort to using our bathroom. The bathroom is not all that large and so getting all of the lighting gear in place is somewhat tricky.

I have done a shoot in the past where I carefully balanced myself across the bath. Fortunately, that is no longer required, with the ability to connect the G9 to an app on the iPad, and boom the camera above the bath.

After one of my posts received a lot of attention I had three models all want to shoot in the bath.

For my shoot with Niki I raided the flowers from our camellia tree. These were very useful in creating Facebook friendly images.

Niki

For the shoot with Delaney I raided petals from a plant that grows out the back of my place like a weed.

Delaney

For the third shoot with Bree I wanted to do something a little different and so we built a storyline around her in a red dress and mask. We also used candles and coloured gels to light the scene. That way it was different to the other ones I had shot.

Bree

Since these photos were taken we have completely remodelled the bathroom and I can’t wait to shoot someone else in the new setup.

Zodiac Series – Leo

Leo was the second staged shoot in my Zodiac sequence. I had a couple of concerts in mind with Luke was be my main model. In the first part of the shoot I used a mask I had bought online and with a strobe in a small reflector used it to cast a shadow on the wall. I then had Luke remove the mask and a second shot was taken. The two images were merged in Photoshop.

For the second shoot, I had also recruited two additional models Martina and David who were to play the parts of the unlucky staff being bailed out because of poor performance.

David forgot about the shoot which left me one person short. Fortunately the G9 has a phone app and so I was able to position myself in the shot and still fire the camera.

Lighting for this shot was a main fill light in a seven foot umbrella and a smaller gridded light focused on Luke.

Zodiac Series – Gemini

I am currently working through a zodiac series with the ultimate aim of it being made into a set for submission for honours with the Photographic Society of New Zealand. It has been on the drawing board for a long time. To make the series more particular I am trying to recruit models that are actually the star signs that I am shooting. I was therefore really pleased when I discovered that twins Evie and Emily happened to be Geminis.

They are both fashion designers who have designed a lingerie range so it was an easy pick to ask them to wear black and white outfits.

The costuming allowed me to play with the notion of a split personality (good vs evil), and we made use of the mirrors in the studio. Then it was an easy photoshop masking to bring the images together.

I also wanted to look at the notion of Yin-Yang and the costume colours fitted well with that. I had them lay on the floor and boomed the camera overhead, under a large umbrella.

I has originally planned for them to be on a fake grass and I was going to surround them with bushed to make it look like they were in the womb. Unfortunately the grass could not be found, and my efforts to cut them out and place them on a real grass background did not look convincing so I ended up scrubbing the idea and giving the image a lot of texture in post processing.

The final image has done very well. It received honours in a club competition, was selected in the North Shore Salon and appeared in the 2019 issue of New Zealand Camera.