Friday, September 20, 2013

Fashion Shoot 3: Evening Gowns

This week is the last part of the photo shoot I did last month. Last time I wrote much about how having one-on-one time with the models, and how it improves the quality of photos (and the overall experience for everyone, I think). This week I decided to show work I did with one model, after all the formal sessions were done. 

It was already dusk by the time we got to shoot with Alona, and the pressure for getting shots from the one overlook where you could see the sunset was really getting uncomfortable. After a few minutes I took a step back and waited for a chance to shoot. The light was going out but at least I would have some time to think and work. 

I had not brought a tripod, and only had one flash with no modifiers (beyond the built-in dome), so I could only do so much, but despite getting less than technically-perfect shots, I got interesting light and good poses (the choice of model also helps a lot here!), and that is all that matters. 

Model: Alona Gabay 

MUA: Larisa Gareeva    

Hair: Yulia Itkin  

Organizer: Oleg Luft

Here is the lovely Alona, before makeup. This is from the organization phase, at around 14:00, and it was already getting dark (17:30ish) by the time we got to work with her. 

This is after make up, but still before the actual shoot. Is a cigarette a good prop? 

Just as it was before, having a macro lens on during the shoot allows some casual macro work which gives frames that could be pretty useful for the make up artists. For me, taking detail shots is always fun (is it possible that I just feel more comfortable photographing things than people? My girlfriend seems to think so...)

Jumping forward to the end of the shoot, we have Alona on the ledge with the sunset in the background. I was hard pressed to decide between a wide angle (to get the background of the sea and sun) and the portrait lens which let me step back and get shots over the other photographer's heads. 

This one, for example, with the 105mm. 

I switched lenses several times during this part. Here is a sample of the squeezed conditions for taking shots on the backdrop of the sunset. This was taken wide angle, standing on a chair in the back of the restaurant we were in. 

Playing with the processing just to mix it up. The dress, hair and accessories, in my opinion, lends a classy look to these shots that works well with this old grainy film effect. 

Again, I tried to get some more interesting shots, beyond the obvious "flash from the side, sun on the back" which I took plenty of. 

This is where I took a step back. Then, after the sun went down, I took a few more minutes as the light went out to try and get some nice shots with Alona, without all the pressure and competition. This was a lot more fun, which makes me want to invest the time and organize much smaller shoots for myself. 

Here I was already stretching what you can do in low light and without the proper gear. This was taken at 1/60th of a second (on a 105mm lens, which is sketchy enough), wide open at f/2.8 (at least this lens is still pretty sharp here) and at ISO 800, which is the highest I allow myself to go. I find that brightening up a couple of stops in Lightroom is better than ripping the ISO to 3200 and then killing it with noise reduction. This one had +1 EV and 25 noise reduction in lightroom 4, which isn't too bad (compared with later photos). 
Beyond the technical limitations of low light, the quality of light in this image is just great, in my opinion. 

Here is another attempt of trying out new techniques on these shoots. It was taken with the 105mm and composed of 10 different images. Although this particular verti-rama wouldn't really match up nicely enough, I thought the effect was pretty cool in itself. You can see how the massive resolution and low depth of field becomes more prominent when you look at it as a whole. This is a full body frame with the depth and background separation of a head-shot. It does require a lot of PC resources to composite, which translates into a long processing time (unless you have a beast computer at home). 

Some more cross processing with a 1940's look. I like the way it gives a good excuse for all the grain, which is what you get when you take photos at ISO800 and then add +2 exposure in Lightroom. 

After trying to get the most of that location I though the hanging lights on the other side of the plaza would be a great background for some tripod-less nightshots. 

This was taken from a few meters back with the 50mm, to get some of this background in, and I was lucky enough to have an orange colored floodlight right on the top of the stairs, so I could get the color contrast almost effortlessly. This also gave me enough light, just barely, to avoid blur. 

...and back to the 105 for portraits, and for blasting these lights out of focus. The flares that light her face here are due to the filter I used (which is "Kenko" brand, and I already noticed had a tendency to flare up). Although I am quite zealous in protecting this lens, I had to take it off for shooting directly into lights like this. 

Problem fixed. This image is also less saturated (in post processing, nothing to do with the filter removed). I wanted to get several different looks for the same scene. 

Once more an old-school film look. 

Just for comparison, here is an 11 mm ultra wide from very close up. You get much more of the environment and a lot of distortion to the model, but also a more "step inside the scene" feel. Personally, I think it is interesting, but as far as portraits look, the longer lenses obviously give prettier results. 

This is a good example: the image below is with the 105, and is a good portrait with the background nicely blurred, but if I want a larger field of view (and not using a wide angle), I would have to walk back quite a bit, and lose the shallow depth of field in the process. 

Here is an example of the multi-shot composite, which is taken only slightly further back than the photo above. It is made up of seven images, where the edges were left intentionally raw. It draws attention to fact it is a composite, for better or worse, and it also breaks the consensus of using rectangular frame boundaries.   

Another example, this time where the flash is visible at the edge of the frame, which kinda shows how this whole business looks. 

Even though I hadn't been ready for night shots, I had a lot of fun working with what I had, and it just goes to show that when the model knows her work and there's a good dynamic, then the technical issues like ISO and shutter speed become unimportant. 

Thanks again to the organizers, to the makeup, hair and models, and especially to Alona. Hope to see all of you soon, in new productions. 

More images at my facebook page

Final image to go: ISO800, 1/60th, at f/3.0 (all really bad settings, with motion blur, noise and overall softness you get wide open), and still a good picture. 

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