Sunday, July 27, 2008


I finally got back out of the house to shoot this weekend. I drove up to an SCA event just north of here to visit with some friends and do some photography. It was a rather small event, but fun to shoot.

Several friends of mine are members of the SCA and they invited us up to camp with them, but unfortunately Wanda wasn't feeling too well, so we had to decline. We did make the attempt to go together on Saturday, but she couldn't stand the twisty ride to the site, so I wound up going alone.

The event was held at a park where the old Trojan Nuclear Power Plant used to be. It's a very lovely park right on the Columbia River and several nice ponds and fields on the grounds. It was a very good site for the event. The only drawbacks were the mosquitoes, which weren't too bad while I was there during the day, but I imagine they were much worse at night, and the continuously flying fluff from the cottonwood trees that surrounded the site. The fluff as so bad that at times it almost looked like it was snowing in July. If you look carefully at the photo to the left, you'll see some of it in the air around the fighters.

The event centered mainly on combat between armored groups, though there were a number of other smaller activities on the schedule. I hung out for the afternoon, watched some of the events, visited with some friends, and then called it a day. It was nice to get out of the house, but I sure wish I had been able to take Wanda with me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Luck or planning?

Sometimes when I finish a photo shoot and go back to edit the images a few days or a few weeks later, I wonder if the best images I get are a result of planning or if it was just luck. I certainly hope that it's planning because that means that the shoot can be reproduced and the results are consistent. I do think, however, that there is some degree of happenstance involved in every shoot.

Take, for example, the Water Fairy shoot I did a couple of weeks ago. I planned extensively for the shoot: I picked the model weeks in advance; I knew exactly where I wanted to shoot; I knew what time of day was best for the shooting location and where the sun would be during the shoot; I purchased the costume materials well in advance and planned the costume change sequence for the shoot; I knew which cameras and lenses I was going to use and, finally, I wrote everything down in a detailed set of shoot notes so that I could review them once the shoot began. That's the planning part.

The luck part also helped to produce a set of great images. First, it was a hot and sunny day. That made the water comfortable for the model and minimized any goosebumps. Yes, the shoot was planned for mid-summer so the weather would be warm, but in Oregon, that's not always a given. Second, the shoot area was absolutely deserted with no one to gawk at the lovely model standing naked or near-naked in the water. Since I choose a weekday afternoon to shoot, this was sort of planned, but during the summer there could have easily been several fisherman on the stream where I planned to shoot. We would have still shot regardless of their presence, but it was much better to have the area to ourselves. Finally, the makeup, the model and the costume just seem to come together to create the images I wanted. The wings I used were not the ones that I had planned for the shoot, but were instead my backup set. I was sure glad I had them because the first pair were torn right out of the package. In retrospect, these wings made for a much better and more cohesive image, so there was a bit of luck there as well.

Hey, I love to plan and I want everything to be known in advance, but I'll take luck any day, especially if it helps my images.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Art Fairy (and Bubble Fairy 2)

I had the opportunity to work with another lovely model this week. Ashley helped me with my latest shoot, the Art Fairy. Our initial plans were to shoot River Fairy on Sauvie Island, but I opted for this more logistically simple shoot due to time constraints and since I had already shot two water based themes recently. This shot is one of the infrared images we did during the session. The full color images were quite lovely too.

I reshot the Bubble Fairy as well, since I wanted a 2nd version with a different look and a different model. While the images with the original model were quite good, they weren't quite in line with the rest of the images in the series.

Ashley was quite fun to work with and very professional. She's been modeling for over 4 years and brought the look I wanted to the session. Her long, curly hair gave me a different look to work with, though I had to remind her a few times to uncover one of her ears so I could give it a fairy point in post -processing. Toward the end of the shoot we were joking about "give me some ear."

I have no other shoots scheduled for the rest of July. That's not to say that if the opportunity arises I won't shoot, but rather that I need to catalog, back-up and begin post-processing the images taken so far. I do plan to do several more session in August, and I'm especially looking forward to shooting Dance Fairy with Krisa and another concept with Megan K.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Early Bird Get the Light

Sometimes you just have to get up early to get the right light. These images were taken at 5.03 am last Friday morning as I was traveling east along the Suislaw River leaving the coastal city of Florence and driving inland. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Nymph in the Waterfall

I was driving out toward Tillmook today and I decided to stop and do some photography at a little waterfall I know of that sits quite a bit off the highway. It's easy to get too and is quite beautiful. As I started to shoot, I noticed this lovely creature just in the edge of my vision. If I tried to look at her directly, I simply couldn't see her, but fortunately I had my infrared camera with me and a round of wide exposures caught this image.

Of course, this is the lovely model Holly posing for my Waterfall Fairy. We had quite the fun shoot today at this little secluded waterfall, and Holly was quite brave, even to the point of braving the very cold pool of water at the base of the waterfall and getting quite soaked in the process.

We got a lot of great photos and I look forward to processing them when I get home from a short business trip. In the meantime, I'll just have to settle for downloading them and viewing the thumbnails. The image above is a very quick edit. The final image will look much better.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rest and Relaxation

I've needed to take some time today to rest my knee and recuperate from 5 straight days of
shooting. I also get to spend the evening keeping my granddaughter and so I had to move a project interview to accommodate that as well. I'll have to say the model was very nice about it. I try very hard not to reschedules shoots or interviews unless I absolutely have to do so, and this was simply a day that it was required.

I had a great shoot on Thursday with Adonna. We went out the the Oregon Coast Dunes Overlook in Florence. Her mom acted as my assistant and we managed to shoot for about and hour despite the 30 mph winds and the subsequently blowing and abrasive sands. Adonna was a very game model, despite the cold wind and the harsh environment. We tried every pose I asked her to shoot, and although I didn't get as many shots in the session as I normally do, I think I got more than enough to choose a great Sand Fairy shot (and create and gallery of excellent images). I'll also be managing Adonna on OneModelPlace and I hope I will be able to help her establish herself and a model in Southern Oregon.

On Friday I got to work with one of the best models on Model Mayhem (well, that's at least my opinion). Wolfpup modeled for my Water Fairy. We had a great time shooting in the shallow waters of Spruce Run Creek and she was absolutely accommodating and easy to work with throughout the shoot. She contributed her own ideas to the shoot and moved easily from pose to pose to pose.

Although it was quite the drive from her location to where we got her into makeup and another significant drive to our shoot location, she kept up her end of the conversation along the way and make sure I was comfortable shooting with her. I certainly hope and expect to use her again for another Fae aspect and for my pin-up projects that will start in the winter as well.

Today I found my Autumn Fairy for the re-shoot. Autumn Fairy was the first of the sets that I shot back in 2006. At that point, I had not completely determined all the unifying elements used in the photo sets, therefore I intend to reshoot that particular session using a different model and bringing in the new elements (tule material, body jewelry, and artistic nudity). I've also found a better pair of wings and garland to use for the images.

Tomorrow I shoot Waterfall Nymph (Fairy) with Holly Johnson (who did just a fantastic job with her test shoot), and on Thursday I'm have a shoot planned with Ashley Haven from Model Mayhem. We were originally scheduled to shoot River Fairy, but I may have changed up my plans somewhat - we'll see. River Fairy seems like a very attractive shoot to me, but that will be my 3rd water related shoot in a week, so I'm might want to try something different. Ashley seems to very laid back and willing to shoot whatever I like. In any event, her portfolio has some very professional images and I'm sure we'll have a great shoot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Of Bubble Fairies, Spring Fairies and Teenage Girls

I shot today with a couple of young ladies in Culp Creek Oregon. Heather contacted me via a castings call on Model Mayhem and wanted work with me - she especially wanted to be part of my Fae Project. I was hesitant at first because she is only 17, but she assured me that her mother was all right with the nature of the shoot and would be there during the shoot itself. Her enthusiasm for the shoot got her the gig and I agreed to travel down to her area to shoot as it was on my way to Florence where I would be shooting tomorrow anyway.

Last night, Heather contacted me and asked if I could find a spot in the shoot for her friend Morgan. Although it was a very last minute shoot and I had almost no time to arrange a costume and define the poses for the shoot, I agreed and told her we would meet in her area for lunch today and I would brief her, her mom and Morgan (who is 18) on the project and the concept as a whole.

During my talk the girls listened and I thought they understood what was involved with the project as a whole and the elements that interlink each of the photo sessions to the project as a whole. These are the materials used for the costumes (tule is used as fairy garb), jewels on the face and sometimes the body, and some degree of tasteful nudity in that the Fae are not clothes conscious and where whatever comes to hand. Heather's mom certainly understood and it seems she was reasonably impressed with my portfolio.

I'll give the girls credit. They did a great job in applying their makeup to my specifications, including the jewelry, the art crayon on the eyes, and the false eyelashes. I carefully went through the materials that would be used for the shoot and how they would be draped on the body. This is the part where it appears they stopped listening and came up with selective hearing because when we actually started shooting they balked a several of the costume changes I requested and for which I had pre-briefed them ahead of time. It seems they had their concept of the shoot and it almost but didn't quite mesh with mine.

We continued to shoot, nonetheless, and I worked hard to make sure we got some wonderful image. The shoot didn't start well either and the girls had planned to shoot down on the river which would have required a hike down a steep bank with all my gear, nevermind me being able to get down the bank and back up with my bad knee. So after driving about 15 miles to their shoot site, I had to call a nix on that and we had to drive 15 mile back to where we started (about 3 minutes from the hotel) to Morgan's parent's property where we ultimately conducted the shoot.

I had Heather run through several variations of the bubble fairy. It didn't quite work the way I planned because neither of the bubble machines I brought with me was able to work in the wind that was blowing. Morgan had to ultimately blow bubbles with a wand while trying to judge how the wind was blowing so as to get the bubbles to float toward Heather. It wasn't an easy job at all, but she doggedly kept at it and I'm pretty sure we got some good shots.

I then had Heather do a version of Spirit Fairy with elemental jewels. I'm sure I got a number of good shots from that set of photos. Heather changed wings a few times and I even got to do a couple of costume changes.

Then it was Morgan's turn. She got to wear the most elaborate wings for her Spring Fairy outfit and I worked to get several good backlit images for her. Heather's mom spent most of her time helping me with the reflectors and watching the girls costumes and wings while I concentrated on the composition and lighting. There was some pretty good teamwork in place for the entire shoot.
Of course, the girls at first told me there was no time restraints on our shoot, but then told me they needed to be somewhere a 8 pm, and then it was no, we need to be finished by 7:30 so we can get dressed, and somehow that turned into we really need to be finished by 7 pm so we'll have time to get back, dress and put our make-up on. I raised a couple of daughters myself, so I can't say I was surprised. I do hope they had fun with the shoot though. I'll have to say, I probably won't do a two model shoot in the future unless I'm working with older, more experienced models. This isn't to say the two girls weren't good models, but rather it's much more logistically challenging and time consuming to work with multiple models, especially when they have only just started modeling and haven't learned the ropes and unstated rules of professional shooting.

The images posted above are just quick grabs from the shoot. I picked them at random just to show some of the looks we were able to capture. With proper post processing on the skin, wings, faces and background, there will be some great images out of this set.

Tomorrow I have an afternoon fashion shoot and then a Sand Fairy shoot in the evening. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Fairy

The Summer Fairy shoot went quite well. Ashley made a superb fairy and was quite comfortable in the costume. She's a little body shy, but was able to overcome her reservations with some exposure. No doubt that she will be an excellent figure model in the near future.

It was a great shoot. Not only did my friends Mark and Gabi generously allow me to use their property, the came down during the shoot to offer us cold water and assistance. Ashley's friend, Anessa, did a great job with the make-up and the reflectors, then Mark took over as my "Camera Bitch" making sure I had the right body and lens close to hand during the shoot.

Afterwards, Mark, Gabi and I discussed the shoots that they would be participating with - Mark as the Forge Fairy and Gabi as the Combat Fairy. We also discussed my concept of Wanda as the Earth Fairy rising from an earthen pit. Without a doubt, they are some of the best and coolest friends we have ever had.

I'm off tomorrow for some shoot in Southern Oregon. So it's best that I'm off to bed for now. I need to get an early start tomorrow as I'm expecting to get two shoots in during the day.

Busy, Busy, Busy - Photographically and Otherwise

After not shooting for my fairy project for over a year, it seems things are picking up. So far this year I've shot Garden Fairy and Woodland Fairy, and I'm scheduled to shoot Summer Fairy, Bubble Fairy, Sand Fairy, Water Fairy, and Waterfall Nymph this week, as well as River Fairy next week. Additionally, I have models lined up to shoot Dream Fairy, Dance Fairy, Earth Fairy, Forge Fairy, Rock Fairy, Combat Fairy and Spring Fairy in August. After that, I'll probably need to take a break for a while to process the images and decide which ones should be included in the book and the calendar. In the meantime, I'm definitely staying busy with the shoots.

I did a test shoot with Holly yesterday afternoon. She is going to be my Waterfall Nymph (Fairy) which is planned to shoot on Sunday. I also interviewed Jane, who has some great ideas and the look for the Rock (Music) Fairy, and with Krisa, who had some great concepts for her Dance Fairy. I actually had a beer and was able to have a long and entertaining conversation with Krisa whose enthusiasm was quite contagious.

The photos you see here are some infrared shots from my test shoot with Holly. I'll be incorporating infrared into the future fairy shoots for an alternative look to give a more ethereal feel to some of the images. I'll be trying that out this afternoon when I shoot Summer Fairy with Ashley (a new model). Ashley is actually in the downstairs bath with her friend putting on the makeup for the Summer Fairy shoot as I edit this entry.

So, I have a very busy week ahead and with any luck I'll be getting some great images for the project and will have a lot of fun with some great models as we work together to create some exciting and fun photos.

Unfortunately, my right knee is still giving me significant issues (severe pain and muscle spasms which are exacerbated by walking), but I'm trying to bull through the pain and the limp with my trusty cane until I can get back to see my doctor on the 18th. Unfortunately for me, I'm one of those photographers that just loves to kneel or squat to shoot low angles of their subjects and my knee just doesn't work that way right now. Nevertheless, the shoots must go on.