Friday, April 1, 2016

Wildflower Spring

This is another shoot in the direction of "model test", continuing a line I really enjoy of shooting beautiful models for the sake of shooting and practicing rather than for a specific fashion... 

It has been almost four months since I headed down to Beer Sheva (once more) for a photoshoot. I wanted to start appealing to a younger audience so I asked around for models under 15. I talked to Maya (on the left) and she was enthusiastic for doing a shoot. She suggested that her friend Bar join us, and eventually we had three models (with Aviv joining closer to the date of the shoot). I met with Adi, that did the makeup for my last shoot in Beer Sheva, and we found a cool location not far from the city, in a field next to a burned tree and in clear sight of the sunset. 

Once more, we didn't have a stylist or fashion provider. It turns out you really don't need one... you decide on the style and make a good moodboard, and the girls bring the clothes they like and feel comfortable in. It's free, and you are free to shoot whatever you want without interruptions... so less of a catalog shoot, more editorial (like the last test we did). 

Models: Maya Yachnes, Bar Shimony, Aviv Cohen | Makeup: Adi Chen


Unlike most shoots where you get to do some location scouting, I didn't have time to drive an hour and a half just to check out the fields around Beer Sheva. So I asked my models and makeup artist for some ideas, and ended up going with Adi's recommendation for some cool spots outside of town. 

Bar & Maya. Nikkor 105mm at 1/800 f/4.0 ISO100
It turned out to be a very good place, offering a burned tree that both looked really good and also gave some shade (which is essential as long as the afternoon light is not yet soft enough). There were fields of wild wheat all around that served as cool natural backdrop for a romantic kind of shoot. 

Aviv. Nikkor 105mm at 1/200 f/4.0 ISO400

Although the original idea was to shoot the short lived flowering in the desert at the end of winter, we had postponed the shoot a few times and the fields were turning orange by then. That didn't stop us, though. I decided to change the mood a bit, and as soon as the sun was low enough we could do direct sunlight shots with the rolling orange hills in the background. 

Overall girls. Nikkor 105mm at 1/500 f/4.0 ISO200

Most of the shoot was done with my all time favorite 105mm Nikkor. I didn't use flash at all... We just didn't have time to start setting it up and moving it around. For a few shots I used the 50mm f/1.4 (which has started to give serious competition as new favorite), mostly for the top-down shots.


The "top down" angle. Nikkor 50mm 1.4 at 1/2500 f/2.0 ISO100. love the shallow depth of field

I was lucky enough to have my wife / director of photography join me for this shoot. She kept close to me and could always see a new angle that I should move myself or the model towards. It's one of the hardest things, to get your eye out of the viewer and examine other angles and backgrounds. So a spare set of eyes is always welcome, particularly someone that really sees this stuff and notices the smallest details. 

Near the burned tree. Nikkor 105mm at 1/250 f/4.0 ISO100

I mean, the makeup artist / hair designer / stylist are always good to have around to keep an eye on the details, but having someone that has some experience with photography or videography (like Keren, my dear) is priceless. 

Out in the fields. Nikkor 105mm at 1/500 f/4.0 ISO200

I didn't use any flashes, which really pushed what you can do with a camera's dynamic range. Shoot in M mode and watch the screen and histogram. You have to be careful not to burn to much details, letting the sunny parts in the background burn out, but keeping your model well lit. At some point the light becomes soft enough to shoot in direct sunlight (keeping it directional is keeping it interesting): 

Gorgeous green eyes... Nikkor 105mm at 1/1250 f/4.0 ISO200

Then when the sun gets even lower you can start to shoot right back at it. Again playing at M mode and watching the screen is essential. It is really easy to "fly too close to the sun" and burn the details right off. I've got a whole bunch of burned photos from that day. But also a bunch of really cool ones: 

Never shoot against the sun! Nikkor 105mm at 1/200 f/4.0 ISO200

One of my models from previous shoots asked me if I got a new camera. I was flattered (I guess) but the only thing that changed was that I was trying new things and the results were just really cool... I changed a brain I could say. 

Very close to sunset. Nikkor 105mm at 1/250 f/4.0 ISO400

Near the end of the shoot my memory card ran out. Three models that all pose so well can do that to a card. But the sun was very low and I didn't want to miss the money shot, so I took out one of the two cards (I shoot on two cards simultaneously for backup) and formatted the other. This kind of doubling down is useful when you have no choice, but in this case it was really an unnecessary risk to take. On the way home I checked my pocket for the card and couldn't find it... I spent the whole drive anxious as hell thinking I just lost the vast majority of beautiful shots from that day. Luckily the card was found around my seat in the car... but I definitely learned a lesson about the importance of backup cards from this experience. 

Simply beautiful: Aviv, Bar, Maya. Nikkor 105mm at 1/200 f/4.0 ISO200
Thanks so much for the three beautiful (and talented!) models, Maya, Bar and Aviv. Thanks to Adi for doing the makeup, hair and styling with me on whatever shoot I decide to do in Beer Sheva. And most of all thanks to Keren, the best d.o.p any man can ask for... 


You can find a few more shots from this day on my facebook page.

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