As I've mentioned in a previous post, every now and then I like to arrange a photo-shoot with a friend where I can test out different concepts and ideas without the stress that can sometimes come with professional (paid) shoots. The latest photo-shoot was with Eri and took place at two different locations, which both happen to be less than 1 minute away from my studio!
I try to photograph at each location only once (unless I can make it look completely different the second time), which means that I have one chance to make it count and in this case I believe I did! The first location is an abandoned one room shack which used to house our chickens and the second is an old and weathered gazebo. I've been wanting to use these as the backdrop for a photo-shoot for a while and I finally got my chance!
I absolutely adore my 85mm f/1.4 lens and I use it whenever I get a chance to, especially when shooting portraits, but on this photo-shoot without actually intending to at the start, I actually kept it on my camera the whole time without even thinking about changing! I generally favour prime lenses (that don't zoom) for portrait work because of their sharpness, contrast and the quality that they produce. The 85mm focal length, which is considered "medium telephoto" gives many options ranging from close head-shots to wider full body-shots, and allows for a good working distance between myself and the model. As usual, I used 2 Nikon SB910 flashguns, one in a Westcott Apollo Orb octagonal soft-box for my main light and the other one bare and unmodified as my hair-light, for separation, which I turned off at some point as it was no longer needed after we closed the door of the chicken house. Both were triggered using the Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 system.
The hair-light (as mentioned above) served to separate the model from the background (by creating a "rim-light" around her) and to light the inside of the chicken house, which would have been completely dark otherwise, as demonstrated in the images below.
My friend Eri, (the model for this photo-shoot) is at this point one of the people I have photographed the most, and as a result, seems to be comfortable in front of my camera right from the start! Throughout the shoot there were several times where I began to explain what I wanted her to do and how I wanted her to pose, but before I managed to get all the words out, she had already done exactly what I wanted!
After shooting a variety of different poses at the chicken house, we moved down to the gazebo, which we had purposely left for after the chicken house, because when we began shooting, the sun was shining hard on it.
When photographing portraits on location, I tend to set a high shutter-speed on the camera, to darken the background so that the model is the indisputable focus of the image. This technique however, gives best results in the shade or when when the sun isn't too bright.
Illuminating the subject with flash makes it possible to underexpose the ambient light and therefore the background (or everything that isn't lit by the flash), by simply adjusting the shutter speed. The aperture value and ISO (sensor sensitivity) on the other hand, affect ambient light as well as the intensity of the flash. Being that the location was completely in the shade by the time we got to it and bearing in mind that I was already shooting with a relatively wide aperture (between f/1.4 and f/4.0), it wasn't possible to record much more ambient light than what you see in the images above without raising the ISO above 200, which I prefer not to do when shooting portraits.
During this photo-shoot, while setting up my lights, I found myself thinking back to pretty much every photo-shoot I have done and realised that I always position my lights to the right of the camera, unless the space won't allow it. I can't think of any particular reason for why I do this, other than the fact that I try to position my subject towards the right side of the frame and having my light on the right-hand side makes it easier to keep out of the frame. In both of the images that are shown above, the shadows indicate that the light was coming from the right-hand side of the frame, but this was actually only the case for the image on the right! When I shot the image on the right, I had the light pointing down from a high angle, whereas for the image on the left I wanted to have the light coming from a low angle, so I decided to position the light and the model on the left-hand side of the frame, so that I could fit the whole gazebo in the image and "flipped" the image afterwards.
All in all, I believe it was a very successful shoot that yielded some very interesting results which I will proudly display in my portfolio and by the end we were left wondering how 2 hours passed so quickly! We were having so much fun that I decided to set the timer on the camera and join in!
Peace Advocate Blogography
Welcome to the Peace Advocate Photography blog, where you will find everything from gear reviews to my opinions on photography and recaps of my recent shoots!