Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A New Project (sort of) and a New Model

I managed to get my 2nd shoot of the "summer" last weekend. Alija Whitebird Pure Spirit  and I connected on Model Mayhem and when I provided her the link to my current projects, she was eager to participate.  We had originally planned to shoot on Sunday, but other commitments proved to difficult to manage so we both bit the bullet and decided on a very early morning shoot at Dragonfly Landing with my new project, Sword & Chains, on Saturday morning.

Since it's a 45 minute drive to the shoot site and she had to be back home for another shoot before 1 pm, I met her at 7 am and we were off to shoot, arriving at Dragonfly Landing shortly before 8 am. Unfortunately, despite the weatherman's assertions to the contrary, it was cloudy at quite cool when we arrived. Despite that, Alija was more than willing to change into the very skimpy chains, grab a sword and walk with me down into a heavily canopied glade to take on the role of the Raven Warrior. Within minutes her teeth started to chatter and not long after that she began to shiver. Still game, however, she pressed on and only took breaks to wrap up in a thick robe when she could no longer control the shivering as she posed.

Fortunately, our gracious host and the property owner soon joined us as a photographer's assistant and he was able to provide Alija with a large cup of hot tea, which helped immensely. We shot for the better part of two hours in the cool and shadowy glade and made some amazing images. Alija has only recently started modeling, but she certainly pulled of some great poses and wonderfully expressive looks.

We had one other set of chains we definitely wanted use in a shoot, so we relocated to a different part of the property to get a different look for the background as well. We were going for a dreamier look in most of these shots, and once again the model pulled it off with grace and charm. Dragonfly Landing has many lovely little areas in which to shoot and I'm fortunate that the owner is such a good friend who allows me to shoot there with so many different lovely models.

For the dreamy look of these images, I used my Canon 135mm f/2.8 with Soft Focus lens. I was shooting wide open, and at the maximum softness settings I was getting some wonderfully dreamy images. One feature of this lens that works particularly well with these costumes and props is the way it renders the specular highlights from the metal chains and swords.

Alija was absolutely gorgeous in these lovely chains, and the background really contributed to the dreamy feel with its moss covered rocks and tiny white flowers. Alija happily climbed over the rocks, knelt on the damp ground, embraced the large trees, and let the long stemmed plants tickle her bare skin in order to get the shot. I was quite impressed with her willingness and enthusiasm during the entire shoot. She's informed me that she wants to be a part of my The Fae in Us All, my Sword & Sorcery, my Women in Chains, and my Barefoot Glamour projects as well. Sounds like a fun summer of shooting to me.

Since we had a bit of time left, Alija wanted to shoot in a final set of chains I had mentioned to her. I had hoped we would be able to shoot with this costume because I hadn't had much of an opportunity to use it in previous shoots. The heavy brass chains require a particular physique and skin tone to look right to me. I had used them once before on a model with pale skin and a softer build but the results disappointed me. The results with Alija did not.

The brass worked well with her skin tones and her smaller, harder physique made a better contrast with the larger pattern formed by the draping chains. I posed her on a small boulder between to very large trees, used a gold reflector to cast some sunlight onto her upper and used a large aperture to blur the background into a dappled pattern of light and shadows.

In all, the shoot more than met my expectations and as we left Dragonfly Landing I felt quite satisfied with both the new project and the new model.  Alija expressed her satisfaction as well and was as eager as I was to see the results from our shoot.

Here's a final image for your enjoyment. Alija sure enjoyed swinging the swords, and this Skull Katana fit her hands quite well.

Summer Fairy, Annotated

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Finally, A Shoot (Outdoors)

Finally! The clouds and the rain stopped long enough and within an available period that I was could shoot an outdoor session with one of the models I've been working with for some of my projects. Cindy had posed for me earlier this year for my Women in Chains and Sword & Sorcery projects in the studio, and we've been trying to get an outdoor shoot completed for some time now. I think we scheduled and rescheduled the shoot at least five times before we were finally able to do it. Even then, while the morning was mostly sunny and dry, but the time I was able to wrap up my work week, pick her up at the bookstore, and travel to the shoot site (Dragonfly Landing), the clouds were already rolling in again and we only had about two hours of shooting time before we started to lose the light. As it was, I was shooting a larger apertures with moderately high ISO settings in order to keep my shutter speeds up.

Cindy was a real trooper though, willing to go into the brush with me, even though the ground was pretty soggy and there was no scarcity of biting insects. We shot mostly in a small clearing cut into the wooded area by the property's owner. The ground, though pretty wet, was reasonably firm and covered in small flowering plants. The small trees made a wonderful backdrop and when the sun broke through the clouds, we had some terrific lighting available, but those opportunities were few and far between. Still, it was great to be outside and shooting again. Usually, by this time of the year, I've done several outdoor glamour shoots, but certainly that hasn't been the case this year.

After shooting in the woods with swords, chains, and kukri knives, we moved out of the woods and onto a paved path near the lower part of the property. For this shoot, we used military style outfits and props and worked on creating some military pin-up type images. Cindy truly excelled at this type of imagery and we were able to get some great shots.

She worked hard on giving me some great expressions, and this shows quite well in the final images. I think she had a lot of fun with the pin-up shots and I know I had fun shooting them.

We're planning on shooting again in August when I return from a couple of trips to Belize and Mexico, and I think during our next shoot we're going to concentrate more on Barefoot Glamour style shoots with water and waterfalls and the settings. In the meantime, here are some images from our studio shoot earlier this year:

Dual Blades with Shadowpoint Chains

Shadowpoint Chains with Battle Axe

Statue with Skull Katana

Dual Blade Dance