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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Royalty Plus

 Ms. Fralisa McFall and I through my friend DorothyInez. Fralisa was in need of a few headshots and wanted to know how much it would cost her. After a quick price negotiation and some serious football rivalry confrontation, we had struck up a deal and she changed (if only for 24 hours) that ridiculous Black and Silver logo (I won't even say the team name) and sported the phenominal Seahawk banner. On the day of the shoot, she was a nervous wreck, having never gone to a studio for a photo shoot. After a little bit of conversation with my new client, I eased out and let DorothyInez do her thing with her brushes while I tended to the lighting set up. Within a few minutes of shooting Fralisa began to relax and we got some nice shots from the session.


  A few days later, she contacted me again and asked if we could meet to discuss a bigger project. This project brought about some ideas which would bring some changes to my business model. As a result my website will now sport a page directed to a specific audience; the plus size population. Fralisa is the delegate for an upcoming pageant and needed a photographer for her coronation ceremony. I suggested she do more than just shoot her coronation, and she thought about the portrait shoot and asked if that is what I meant? We talked about a few ways of revving up her coming out, and decided to go with a candid lifestyle shoot which we accomplished on a cool brisk gray morning, thankful that the rain stopped long enough for us to get in a very nice session.


 Seeing the results of the photos we decided to go with another session as well to ramp up even more personality and give a public peek into her lifestyle. We decided an indoor shoot at The Lobster Shop at Dash Point http://dash.lobstershop.com/  Arrangements were made with the restaurant and we could not have asked for a better lighting for what we needed to capture. Fralisa's FB page had come alive and people were talking about her photos. A very good sign as the day of coronation quickly approached.
 The Royal Day was quickly approaching and things were about to get stirred up. As with many projects, there were a few minor setbacks. Fralisa and her small staff worked right though them without missing a beat. A quick venue change, a few rearrangements here and there, and everything was back on track.
 The Coronation
The evening had finally arrived, and I thought she would be a nervous wreck, considering the woman whom I had first met at the portrait shoot, where I could very easily see the level of discomfort on her face. Not on this evening. Fralisa seemed well rested and rehearsed to her duties for this event. She greeted her well wishers as they came through the doorway, finding time to make small talk with each and everyone of them. Even the children got their chance to talk with the soon to be queen. 

 Past delegates and current title holders all arrived wearing regalia and sashes, and as the evening progressed, I found myself feeling like I had attended the Inaugural Ball Ceremony which was actually still days away. None the less, Ms Fralisa McFall had been transformed from owner and principal of the small private Imagination School in Tacoma http://www.imaginationschoolofeducation.net/, into Ms Western Washington Woman American Beauties Plus delegate. As a photo artist I look forward to creating photographs for this organization.







Monday, January 21, 2013

Capturing Children personality

I have shot a few models under the age of 17 and as always I speak directly with the parents or parent. However, I have learned that speaking with the child star normally gets me a much better rate because the children never mind spending top dollar for their photo shoots. They will also attempt to pay with monopoly money was well. However all kidding aside, I have yet to see a child come into the studio and not be bashful in the beginning of the shoot. I have been around Trinity on an occasion or two and she would always ask me questions about models and tell me how much she wanted to do a photo shoot. Finally her parents agreed and we arranged a day to shoot. She arrived to the studio with bright eyes, but I watched her nervously put her hand on her face when her dad told her to put on her game face. Sort of like that first day of school when you're the new kid. I figured I could bring her out of that shell a bit, if I showed her around and let her find her comfort zone. After a tour and a few small conversations with some working professionals and upcoming recording artist that happened to be in a recording session in the studio across the hall, I started to see her become herself again. It was time to take her in that big room with all that strange looking equipment she had never seen before.  As I set up lighting, I also answered all ten thousands of her questions about what I were doing or I started the conversation about it. She became intrigued with the flashing strobes and pocket wizards and how they worked, apparent by her blushing at her parents every time the light flashed. I knew we were just about there. A final quick coaching to assure her that she did not have to worry about making a 

 mistake, and she looked quite confident. Trinity was no longer standing in the shadows of the equipment. She was taking charge of her spot on the seamless, and she pretty much just became her normal self and were no longer even bothered by the flashing light or anything in the room. My job suddenly became quite simple. I only needed to push the button and capture the series of personalities she displayed. I would give her a small instruction and just let her be herself, ensuring to give her frequent breaks. A child star was born indeed. Between breaks we made small talk and ate delicious cupcakes.  When we finished the shoot and pulled the photos up on the large monitor I only needed to glance at her and her parents faces to see that she approved of her photo session. Her dad said she is very anxious for her next shoot, and I am as excited to make it more interesting for her.
 How was it done:
STILL SHOTS
I had previously done a couple of test shoots for lighting and so I knew pretty much how I wanted to light the set.
28 inch gridded beauty dish with sock camera left about 3 feet from subject.
Strip box to subject left front at a 45 degree angle.
White bounce reflector  about 2 feet off subject  left rear
gridded strobe on backdrop.
Camera settings:
Aperture: F/9
ISO: 250
Shutter Speed: 1/250
Lens: 70-200 f/2.8 


ACTION SHOTS
Parabolic Umbrella approximately  5 feet from subject front Center
Aperture: F/16
ISO: 250
Shutter Speed: 1/125th

Good luck Trinity. You'll make a great Gap Kid.

The Model:
Age: 8

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

How to get awesome out of a one light stand




I have to begin this by talking about my model, otherwise this blog would be so technical that most of you who are not photographers will not find it at all interesting. So to keep ratings high I begin with my very beautiful Chanel model. This is my second Chanel model. No, not that Chanel. Boy don't  I wish. My second model name Chanel that is. Pretty much just getting her feet wet with modeling.
Model stats:
height: 5' 9 in (in stocking feet)
Bust: 34 A
waist: 25
hips: 35
skin: clear
modeling experience: No modeling experience.

 Not wanting to overwhelm her, I decided I would do her test shoot by experimenting with a single light set up. All too often I read questions from someone asking what can they do with a single light. Well here is an opportunity to see it done with a few different modifiers and light benders. Before we begin, I have to tell Chanel's story. The first day we agreed to meet, Chanel was seemingly having a hard time with directions. I thought to myself, this is kind of weird, everyone knows where this place is or that place is. As it turns out Chanel is brand new to the area as well as  brand new to modeling. However as I look at the results from her test shoot, (and you are only seeing a few of the shots displayed here).
The second photo is her complexion without any post work at all.
The Technical stuff
I decided I wanted to shoot at different apertures but keep everything else basically the same so that I can see the major affect of a one light shoot in studio. Speed lights are awesome, and I love mine, but I have not tested the range of shooting with a single speedlight in studio. I have, at times had to use a single speed light on location, but there were always ample ambient light, which in itself counts as a lighting source. If someone reading this do it or already have done it, I would love to see your results. Otherwise I am going to try it one of these rainy afternoons.  I used only the Alien Bee 800 for the entire shoot, varying the distance of the light more than the power itself.  I expected  some heavy shadowing so I envisioned B&W shots.  Chanel my model dressed in a dark dress and stood on the white seamless. Knowing that white seamless is not going to look at all white without sufficient light ( you have to get it at least 3/4 a stop higher than your main to blow it out properly and have it appear white and that is impossible with only one light). So to turn strange to creative, think black and white. Some may disagree and decide to keep it a colored or sepia shot and there is nothing wrong with either.
One light with 15 inch ungridded beauty dish and no bounce (photo #1
How was it done:
ISO:  250
Aperture:  f/9.0
Shutter speed: 1/250th a second.
Lens: 50 mm f/1.8
camera body: Nikon D700
Alien Bee 800 strobe (320 watt seconds)
Light modifier: Interfit 15.5 inch beauty dish (modified to attach to the AB800) approximately 6 ft high and 3 feet from model's front and camera's left.

One light with28 inch gridded beauty dish and bounce (gold tone) Photo #3
For the next shot I wanted more skin exposed for the purpose of getting a beauty look from the shot.I then shot the same outfit using a bigger modifer and a zoom lens.
ISO: 250
Aperture: f/16
Shutter speed: 1/25oth a second
Lens: 70-200 f/2.8 @ 122 mm
Light modifier(s): Fotodiox 28inch Beauty dish with  20 degree grid and sock approximately 7ft high and 3 feet from models front at a 45 degree angle with bounce to model's front approximately 24 inches below model's chin and camera's left. Notice how much light is returned to shadow areas by simply bouncing light back onto the model. A reflector is a lot less costly than a speedlight or a strobe and easier to transport as well, so consider that when you are going to go trekking into the woods or down into that basement.
Photos #2 and #5 with wardrobe change and gear adjustment
 After a few more shots, Chanel took a short break and this was a good time for a quick wardrobe  change into a black leather jacket and strapless black bra along with a pair of black pants. As for the photography, I decided to move the light back about 2 feet and open up the aperture a bit. Notice the the shadows are more visible, yet still relatively soft on the face and chest.
Aperture: f6.3
Lens: 70-200 f/2.8 @ 130 mm

Photo #4 Black backdrop full body shot
Curious to know what my results would be without the white seamless, I decided to shoot on black felt without a bounce and the exact same settings as previously. I also wanted to shoot this shot full length so I adjusted the length and Chanel did the shoot in just fishnet tights instead of the black pants because the light meter was showing a fall off of 3 stops which would have been almost no detail at all anyway. I like the results.
Lens: 70-200 f/2.8 @ 75 mm.

The test shoot proved successful. Chanel certainly showcased her talent and now have some good shots she was hoping to get for a few other projects, and I got to spend a couple of hours doing what I really love to do as well as write my first blog in 2013.
My next few projects for the new year are on an epic scale compared to anything from last year. My resolution for the year is to raise my bar out of the atmosphere of 2012 and into the Exosphere of 2013. So no more excuses about waiting to get more lights.