Monday, September 28, 2009

Elle Woolley: Back to Basics

It's been a while since I've gone back to my roots. It's amazing what you can do with a single strobe if you use it correctly. If you don't believe me, look in her eyes... the eyes never lie :) This was shot with a single AB800 in a 28" Apollo Westcott softbox with a fill card (white reflector) placed so low (camera lower left) that I kind of doubt it added to the exposure.

This isn't the first set that I've done which was inspired by the great B&W picture of Kate Beckinsale that I have immortalized in my mind, nor will it be the last. Also in my habit of shooting is turning on the
paint dryer to move some hair around for dynamic effect. Elle was very good with the wind and her eyes didn't tear up until the last few frames. This was one of many great shots we got while moving her hair around. Occasionally a certain misappropriated lock of hair would get get stuck across her face but the wind is fair and ultimately if you wait long enough, you'll get a clean/clear shot of the face.

It should also be said that I've moved into a level of comfort with the studio that is comfortable but can be mistaken for complacency. I no longer lose sleep the night before (I never did honestly) thinking about setups and new ways to put together a set or an entire shoot. These days, I walk into a shoot very much blind without putting too much forethought into it and letting things develop organically. I've mentioned this before to my models that on one hand it's laziness and on the other hand it's spontaneity to be able to go with the flow and create as is required. That being said, I should probably put more time and effort into pushing the boundaries researching setups during my off-hours.

On the other hand, I will say that the lighting setups that I put together these days are never predetermined. They are always the result of necessity; a light here, a fill card there, taking out a light that is causing problematic highlights... I also take a lot more care and time when evaluating my first few frames to ensure that I don't go 100+ frames with something wrong. I am more patient with the setup. I take my time. I don't get flustered (anymore). I don't lose my cool. In fact, I bet the models I work with think I'm a little lackluster. But I'm not. I'm just comfortable shooting. I'm comfortable with the models. And I'm comfortable with the lights. There isn't anything that remains particular or technically challenging about what I typically do anymore which means it's time I graduated to the more abstract level of this profession and really push the artistic and creative element of the shot.

But with this comfort means that I can go back to the beginning... go back to the beginning and revisit some of the simpler elements of shooting, sometimes with just 1 light. In this set we were actively trying to recreate Kate's B&W picture as I've mentioned above and therefore working with another picture as reference. I must have provided Kate's B&W picture on this blog sometime in the past so I won't bore anyone with a repeat. I thoroughly enjoyed the last few sets with Elle because we were able to take our time and really do whatever we wanted. Sometimes, "whatever you want" yields the best and most creative results.

Post-processing this picture was straightforward and yet not straightforward. This picture has no blur. All the pores are original save the ones that were "healing brushed" in Photoshop. With such clarity and sharpness on the 85mm f/1.4D however, it's rare for me NOT to use a minimal blur. But Elle's skin does not require the blur and I spent enough time post-processing on a pore-by-pore basis so it was entirely unnecessary. Final image was cropped to an unorthodox 5:7 ratio because it included more than a 4:6 vertically and less than a 4:5 vertically. If that made no sense to you don't worry about it. All I mean is that the 5:7 ratio was exactly what I needed for this shot and I never use the 5:7 aspect ratio.

Elle was a joy to work with. Easy-going and very open to ideas/instructions. More to come soon.

Camera info: D3/85mm f/1.4D, 1/200th, f/7.1, ISO200

Strobist info: Single AB800 in 28" Westcott Apollo softbox camera upper right. Fill card camera lower left.

Model/wardrobe: Elle Woolley

Makeup: Kayle Bresee

Retouching: Lightroom/Photoshop

No comments:

Post a Comment