I recently had the great pleasure to work with another young model from Folkestone, Emily. I had seen her portfolio when she first joined PurplePort and flagged her as somebody I would like to work with almost immediately.
Moving forward a few months I finally dropped her a line asking if she would like to do a shoot and provided a mood board of ideas way beyond my ability. We swapped messages and ideas and nailed it down to about 4 styles of picture that we both liked. We booked the studio I use frequently down in Folkestone and Emily made the magic happen.
The first idea was to recreate a kind of Alice In Wonderland picture I had seen on Pinterest. Emily had managed to borrow a wedding dress from the studio and at huge expense I bought a small bottle to mimic the whole 'Drink Me' part of the story.
The shot was taken using a crimson colour paper background and a single large beauty dish with reflector, sock and grid. The beauty dish, reflector and sock give a very soft lighting whilst the grid makes it very directional and gives a quick drop off in light.
Initially I had technical problems with the shot. My camera should synch at 180th second with flash but we were seeing a shadow down the right hand side of the images. I can only put this down to then wireless triggers that were being used to fire the flash. I dropped the shutter speed down to 125th and we ended up shooting these images again at the end of the set.
We moved from a very low key setup straight into a high key beauty style shoot. This is when I first noticed the shutter sync issue as the shadowing became very obvious. I very rarely shoot high key work and even more rarely full length fashion high key work but this section of the shoot gave me some of my favourite images.
This image is pretty much as it was shot. Using Lightroom I have selected the Fuji Astia film type to give some subtle skin tones. Lighting was with the beauty dish with just the sock and a second strip soft box on the right to balance the lighting. Strip soft boxes give better light for full length shots because they are longer and throw light the full length of the body.
This has to be one of my most favourite shots from the shoot, if not one of my most favourite portrait shots. A lot more work has gone into this image. Out of the camera I applied the same Fuji Astia film setting in Lightroom and increased the exposure by about a stop to increase the high key nature. The image was then pulled into Photoshop and using a Frequency Separation technique I did some skin retouching. Photoshopping images can be a mute point but everybody has spots, skin blemishes, and the likes - even models. I use Photoshop to remove that but never go to the extremes of remodelling features. Spots and pimples are temporary and do not need to be recorded for all of time! Finally I pulled the retouched image into OnOne Effects and applied a small amount of glow and a lightening graduated filter for the base of the image up just to increase the high key effect without affecting the face too much. Using a masking brush I removed the effects of the glow and graduated filter from the eyes and lips.
In this shot I used a toning filter in OnOne just to give the image a slightly bronzed look to warm it but still maintain the high key soft feel to the image. The expression on Emily's face here gives her a completely different character from previous shots. But we will talk more about that later!
When I set out shooting models it was to take beauty and fashion pictures to put on this site and hopefully take on paid portrait work. I was lead astray though by some models (honest) to lingerie and boudoir work! It was genuinely a style I had no intention of shooting because I thought I would be awful at it and end up with some very tacky images. I would like to think that has not been the case. A couple of the mood board images Emily really liked were low key lingerie shots - who was I to say no?
In particular she liked some black and white images with the light used to create body sculptures like the images below.
I use the Shadows, Highlights, Blacks and Whites sliders in Lightroom a lot to make fine adjustments to the tonal range of images. I try to get the lighting as right at the shooting stage as possible so I get the best exposure to work from to start with. Dodging and burning images is not a new technique it is just the tools to do it with digital images are a lot easier than cutting out bits of card and sticking them on lollipop sticks!
The final idea was almost a lifestyle image to start with - a relaxed pose in a comfy jumper - but we ended up spicing it up a just little more than the original idea.
I loved the warm tones this image has and the expression on Emily's face. I mentioned earlier about portraying a different character and I think in all four styles she has a different look to her. Maybe I am just imagining it but Ioved her versatility and it made for a very productive and varied four hour shoot. Probably the best planned one I have done to date. For this set of images we again turned to the singled beauty dish with grid and a dark grey background. The fall-off from the beauty dish effectively renders the background completely black.
Post processing consisted of basic tonal and cropping in Lightroom, skin retouching in Photoshop and final tonal effects in OnOne.
You can view the complete gallery of images here