Thursday, August 27, 2009

Barefoot Glamour

I got to shoot with Cathy K. again this week. We tried a couple of different locations this time, but I still put her in the water at both locations. She's a good sport and didn't mind (too much).

Our first shoot location was in the Tillamook Forest at the spot where I shot my Water Fairy last year. The spot features a wide, shallow area of the Lower Nehalem River. Here, in the summer at least, the water is tolerably warm, and if shot at the right time of day, is quite blue. The day we shot, however, the river was a bit too shallow to get the deep blue color that I've managed to see there in the past. We did, however, get quite a few shots in before the sun got too high and we lost all of our open shade.

Once we lost the light there, we decided we would take the ride out to Ecola Point State Park and do some shots there. Cathy was quite eager to do this as she hadn't been to the park before and I had promised her a great view of the Oregon Coast. I also think we was eager to dry off and warm up.

We first went the the viewpoint which juts out from the surrounding cliffs and offers a wonderful view of Cannon Beach to the south, and Indian Beach to the North. It was not a very windy day there for a change, so it was quite comfortable shooting at the point. For this shoot, Cathy wore a black linen beach dress, and we had quite a lot of fun shooting around the various tourists and sightseers.

After about 45 minutes at the viewpoint, we drove down to Indian Beach for some shots on the beach and in the small stream that runs down to the Pacific. Little did Cathy know at this point that I would be putting her in the water again, but I think she might have guessed what was going to happen once she saw the waves and the small stream. Still, she was as game as ever, and even went pretty far out into the Pacific to kick up some sand and water. I dared her to kick water on me, but since I was shooting with a 70-200 f/2.8L IS zoom, there was little risk she could actually reach me. It was a fun shoot and both the photographer and the model had a great fun.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Studio Fun

I've started processing the photos from the weekend's shoots. I'm very pleased with the images so far. Bridgett did a great job as the Reaper Fae, and I'm very happy with the costumes, her look, and the variation on the themes we did. I had some concerns about lighting the background and the model and providing some degree of separation between them, but the addition of a Lumopro Reflector Panel let me swap one of my lights for background light while allowing me to have a sufficient degree of fill on the model.

Based on my previous experience shooting the Dark Fae, I knew it would be difficult to separate some of the costume elements from a black velvet background, so I ordered a couple of new backgrounds from Backdrop Outlet. I have used them with great success in the past, so I had no concerns about order a new Elite Blue backdrop and more specifically, the Scarlet Flame Muslin that I planned to use for the shoot. I ordered them in plenty of time for the shoot, but only the blue backdrop arrived before the weekend. The Scarlet Flame was put on back-order just after I ordered it. So, I had no red backdrop for the shoot at all.

Fortunately, Mike Lowery at Focal Point Photography came to my rescue. Not only did he sell me the Lumopro Reflector I mentioned above, he had a cranberry muslin in stock I was able to purchase. That's the back drop you see in the image above and to the right. I hit the backdrop with a red gelled strobe and it was almost perfectly what I had envisioned for the image.

Mike also loaned me what he called his "seagull droppings" background to use. This was a very fun background with which to play. It's partially translucent and therefore takes on the color of whatever strobe is placed behind it. The images below show three examples of it's use:

First is with a blue gel on the backdrop light:

Then with a red gelled light:

And finally with no gels:

Now, if I could just get him to sell it to me.

Most of the day was spent shooting Bridgett and Wanda, and then that evening I shot with a new model, Melanie K. Melanie posed for my Fae in All of Us series as one of my Fire Faries. She brought her fiancé along to the shoot, and he and Wanda had a pretty good time talking to each other while Melanie and I were shooting. Wanda grilled him for some of his favorite shooting locations. Additionally, Melanie's friend Betsy dropped by the studio for a bit, and she make actually become part of the project as well. I'll be talking to her soon about becoming my Wind (or Air) Fairy. Here's a shot of Melanie as the Fire Fairy. It's not the best shot from the series, but it does give an idea of the set-up and the look of the set:

When I get more of the images processed, I'll probably post a few more here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Studio Weekend

I was able to spend all day Saturday shooting in the studio and I had a great time. I was able to shoot with my good friend and model, Bridgett, for two shoots and got to work with a fun new model for the last shoot. All in all, I was able to get in about 6 hours of solid shooting, including a couple of hours of shooting with my wife.

I was able to work on two of my projects. Bridgett posed as the Reaper Fae for my Fae in All of Us project, and Bridgett and Wanda both posed for my Women in Chains series. After those two shoots, we went out to dinner in St. Johns with Bridgett, Mark and their son, Morgan, and had a nice time just chatting and catching up with them. Afterwards, Wanda and I went back to the studio to set up for the next shoot which was a reshoot of my Fire Fairy set.

The photos you see here are from the 1st shoot. These ladies weren't the primary models I had planned for the shoot. In fact, they were my back-up models. The primary model was to be shot later the same day that these pictures were taken, but the model was a no show. This was especially frustrating because this model had been planning to shoot this particular set for over a year. Whenever we would plan to shoot, scheduling issues would prevent us from getting together. At the time, I didn't consider this a major issue, since I felt that I had plenty of time to complete the shoot this year and I also knew I could easily get another model for the shoot. Also, the scheduling issues were on both ends of the equation, so I felt I owed her an opportunity to do the shoot.

Finally, this summer, it seemed things were about to come together for the shoot. I found a studio that I could rent for a reasonable rate, although because of the large windows and skylights it would require the shoot to be at night. I was also able to complete a test shoot with the model and she was ready on time and worked well with the camera. She was able to self-direct well, and was also able to take directions easily. Based on her test shoot, I reserved the studio, gathered the needed props, and paid the deposit for a day of shooting.

As you can see from the images above, the lighting for this shoot is quite elaborate. It involved 5 strobes. A large softbox on camera left, a gridded hairlight with a red gel on a boom above the model, and three gelled strobes below the model with barndoors. The model posed on a plexiglass platform with two strobes with red gels lighting her (them) from below, and the third strobe with a yellow gel was set to illuminate the smoke from an industrial fog machine. Additionally, a black velvet background was used to absorb the light and the softbox was flagged to prevent any light spill onto the background.

Earlier in the week the model wrote me (she doesn't have a cell phone or land line) to say she wasn't sure she could make it and asked me to reschedule. This was after confirming two days earlier that the shoot was on. After I told her the studio was reserved and paid for and I could not reschedule, she told me she would be there and we made the final logistical arrangements for the shoot (I was to pick her up at the Max station at 7 pm and she would be bringing her sister along as an escort). That was quite fine with me, but I did have a unsettling feeling about this, so I arranged for the two other models just in case. I also had arranged for a makeup artist for the shoot, but when the MUA called me earlier in the day to confirm, I told her to wait until I was sure the model was going to show before she headed to the shoot.

As it turns out, that was my best move in the whole situation. I figured I could at least use these models to set up the lights and fine tune all the elements of the image so that when the primary model showed up, I would be ready to go for the shoot. Due to the setup time and the time it took the two models to get into makeup and costume, we only got to shoot for about an hour and a half, at which time we all went to the Max station to pickup the third model and her sister.

Since that model had no cell, there was no way for me to call her and confirm she was on her way - so we got to the station early and waited for two trains (a half an hour) before I decided to take the two models to where they needed to be. I came back by the station after dropping them off, and waited for two more trains. At 8:30 pm, I gave it up, called the MUA to cancel and then went back to the studio and spent the next two hours breaking down the studio equipment and stowing it in my truck.

During all this time there was no call at all from the model to explain the situation. In fact, it wasn't until 5 days later that I got a note from the model. She told me she had been in a car accident on the way to a cookout before the shoot, and although she didn't get hurt, her friend who was driving bumped his head and had to go to the hospital and so she had to stay there with him.

I have no idea if this is true or not, but I did tell her in my reply that there was simply no way we'd ever be able to work together given what happened and that a call would have been the most courteous thing to do in the situation.

Fortunately, my shoots this weekend helped me to move forward and I'm just going to chalk this up as a learning experience - never shoot with a model that isn't able and willing to maintain multiple lines of communication. The hassle just isn't worth it!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Completed Shoots

I've completed processing a number of shoots lately, but I"m still working on several more. I have three shoots scheduled for this weekend, and just finished one more yesterday evening. Photographically, I've been quite busy, but I've been having a blast and enjoying stretching my imagination and skills for each of the shoots.

I've been processing images for the models as they've picked them out for their TFP (Time For Print) sessions, but I'll still have plenty of images to processes over the winter, as well as a couple of other shoots that will occur during the cold season when we actually have snow on the ground.

I did a couple of photo sessions featuring three different models using a military theme. The first one, featuring Jennifer and April, was shot at Dragonfly Landing with the assistance of my good friend Mark, who shuddered with dismay each time I set my 5D MKII or my 1DsMKIII on the ground, and his girlfriend, Rainbow. That shoot went quite well, and the models were quite fun to work with, though a bit inexperienced and not used to taking directions or self-directing.

The other military glamour session was with Gabriell as part of her portfolio development, which is mostly complete at this point - at least as a starter portfolio. Shooting with Gabriell was both planned and not planned. Originally my idea was to shoot landscapes in the morning, starting and Ecola Point and Cannon Beach, then meet Gabriell later in the day in Newport and do more of a fashion shoot in Newport or Lincoln city. The day we were supposed to shoot, however, it was quite cloudy and cool; not exactly a day for shooting landscapes, so I just shot on down to Florence and spent the day shooting with Gabriell.

We did several themes that day. We started with the military shoot, then found an abandoned rail car and did a gypsy shoot. Nearby was a old gate where we did a country girl shoot, and then we used the abandoned rail line for a nude shoot. Finally, we finished up the day by shooting Gabriell as a pirate.

Gabby has come along quite well as a model. With a little effort she could do quite well as a glamour model and I think she would do especially well as a promotional event model since she has an outgoing personality and a girl next door look. Here are a few more of her looks from that day's shoot:

This is from our gypsy glamour shoot with the abandoned rail car.

And one from our Pirate shoot:

Tomorrow I have three shoots planned. I'll be shooting the Reaper Fairy with Gabriell's mother, Bridgett, ladies in chains with Wanda and Bridgett as the models, and in the evening the final Fire Fairy, with Melanie. Of course, I have more images to post from some of my other shoots as well, so there will be a number of future journal entries here show-casing those images. Right now, though, it's time to for bed so I can get an early start setting up the studio tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summer Shoots

I enjoy shooting in the summer. College is usually on break and the high school graduates are in that halcyon period between then end of high school and the beginning of college when their worries are few and their dreams are great. It's during this period that I generally work with a number of new models eager to try modeling for both fun and, they hope, profit. Usually, I'm always willing to work with new models trying to establish or expand their portfolios, and I especially enjoy working with ones who are on top of their game and who meet their commitments and come prepared to get the best images from the shoot.

So far this week, I've had the opportunity to work with two such models. The first new model, Miranda was to be my Rain Fairy. Our plan was to shoot in my backyard during the early morning hours so as the catch the morning sunlight on falling drops of water from an oscillating sprinker which would look likes streaks of rain falling on the model. I had a full shoot plan with costumes, wings, and filmly white material to use for shoot. The model called the night before to confirm the shoot and get directions to my house, sent me her address and a copy of her ID so I could have the model release ready to go prior to the shoot, and she arrived 30 minutes early and eager to shoot. I was ready, the model was not only ready but happily eager, on the other hand, the sun was no where to be found. A thick layer of clouds hung in the sky and diffused the sun'a light to a weak, soft, and nearly shadowless version of summer sunshine.

The diffused soft light would have been great for a beauty and glamour shoot, but we needed strong sunlight to back light the falling water and produce the silver streaks that would fall on he model. So, we quickly had a conversation, discussed some changes, and improvised a new shoot using the same location but with a different concept,

So out went the white wings, white material, white tule, white crystal face jewels and light blue sheer material that was our main costume materials for the shoot, and we quickly put together an outfit of purple, green and pink materials, purple wings, and silver body chains. The model was quite willing to go with the changes, and we had a great time winging the shoot. The image above, quickly edited this afternoon, is representative of that fun.

An even more invigorating shoot occurred this afternoon. While I was in California over the weekend for my granddaughter's 1st birthday, I was contacted via my blog (this blog in fact), by a lovely young Pacific University student who was interested in my projects, and was especially intersted in my ongoing Barefoot Glamour project. We agreed to meet for a cup of coffee on my return and to discuss a potential shoot.

We therefore met for a coffee and a chat on Tuesday evening. I let Cathy peruse the photos in my portfolio and made sure she was comfortable with my style and my work and offered her the available times I had to shoot for the next several days. She was quite happy to get started shooting right away, so after my morning meetings this week, I took the afternoon off and we drove out to the Tillamook Waterfall to shoot. We discussed the clothing and the materials that we'd use for the shoot and had a decent shoot plan going in to the shoot.

Cathy was a fun and adventurous model. She easily met any request I had for her with regard to poses, and even walked deep into the pool at the base of the waterfull to submerge herself to her shoulders and then slowly rise from the waters while getting heavily sprayed from the falls. None of my previously models had been willing to do that. It was a fun shoot with lots of great images, and I think Cathy enjoyed the shoot just as much as I did. I hope I get a chance to shoot a few more times with this lovely young ladie.