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There is nothing like that ½ hour window with both sunset and sunrise lighting that just cannot compare to any other lighting. No matter how hard you try to imitate in studio settings or other daylight times. Partly cloudy days can produce some dramatic images, but they still do not compare to the warm and soft lighting of sunsets or sunrises. Actually it is more like a 10 minute window just as the sun has completely set, yet just barely enough light to hand hold a camera if need be. This image is taken in the late spring before the high mountain desert plateau tall grass turns golden brown from summer heat.
(Julie in the Trees)
This photo was taken at a local nature preserve. It is actually a relatively simple setup. First, we located an appropriate location for the shot. I was looking for something that was well shaded (this was shot mid-afternoon during the summer) and had little bright sunlight in the background. I placed a Canon 580EX II Speedlight on a light stand with a shoot through umbrella to the camera's left. I used a Pocket Wizard Flex and Mini to trigger the flash using the camera's automatic flash system, but the same thing could be accomplished using an off camera shoe cord, Canon's Wireless Flash Transmitter (ST-E2), another Canon Speedlight set as a master, or by shooting with manual flash settings. I set my camera to underexpose the ambient light by 2-3 stops (I was probably shooting at about 1/250 and f/8). This made everything that wasn't lit by the flash go darker than it really appeared at the time. Because I was using Canon's electronic flash system (E-TTL), Julie was exposed correctly, no pun intended. For post processing, I added a slight dark vignette in Lightroom to further accentuate the darkness surrounding Julie. Other than that, there was very little post processing.
(I'd Rather be Dancing)
This photo was shot during my first time back on the set after I underwent a major and unique knee/leg surgery. I was anxious to get back on the set, not just because I missed shooting, which I did, but also because I wanted to capture these moments, the pain and the strength and determination, the feelings of broken-ness, and the hope for something better. So 7 weeks after surgery, when the doctor said it was safe to start putting pressure on it, I got in touch with photographer Jack Paton and the next day I was shooting again. We started with this silhouette series and it was my idea to get some 'mid-air' poses, bragging about my newly acquired upper body strength from spending 7 weeks on crutches. It wasn't quite as easy as I had imagined though and it required me hoping nude into the air, support by the crutches several dozen times to get the poses exactly right, so by the end of it I definitely felt I had gotten a good work out, a good giggle and some strong, beautiful photos I could really be proud of. It takes a strong soul to make art, luckily art is what strengthens the soul
How was it done? Basically I treat fire performance photography in one of two ways, either with flash or without. In this case I worked without, which means setting the shutter speed to about 1/20 of a second wide open 2.8 on the lens I used. At that speed, with decent bracing and stabilization, I can count on getting some of what I want hand held. I have used a tripod, but fire performers, like other dancers tend to move around a fair amount.
The only light source is the flames and this means that only certain positions of the fire toys will light the model sufficiently well. After a while, you begin to sense when to click the shutter button.
The only post processing is cropping and a bit of tweaking darks and shadows in Lightroom.
This is one of my favorite pictures. It was taken 6th of July 2010 during or honeymoon on our visit to Maui Hawaii.
Before we got to this paradise island in the pacific ocean, we had already agreed to do some nude shoots. After we had been to the island a couple of days, we discovered that the local law was pretty restricted about nudity on their beaches, even topless sunbathing was prohibited. After a quick search on the internet we found out that there was a unofficial nude-beach located not very far from our hotel. The beach was called Little Beach, located next too Makena beach (Big beach).
Next day we woke up pretty early and drove to the beach before the sun was rising. Because of the time of day it was only a few spectators, just a couple of guys that seemed to have spent the night in a tent by the beach. Because we were on a nude beach, my wife demanded that the photographer also should take his clothes off, and so he did
The Little beach was a wonderful place. Clear water, nice view and very peaceful place in the morning. A perfect place for a photoshoot.
After a quick swim the sun was rising. The low sun rays made a wonderful lighting and great shadows through the palm trees. A perfect match to her naked wet body in the beach sand.
(Body and Lace No.1)
My best work is when I modeled and created a set design for my husband
I carefully planned to have natural light come in from a window around the time the sun would start its decent in the afternoon. I draped old lace from the top of the window frame down to defuse the light and I attached white sheets from the corner of the window to a wall to reflect light back onto me. The lace in the window made the same pattern across my back and other shadows from the reflected light came across my body from interesting angles. I stood in kind of a vintage style glamour pose. We used low light so I had to be extremely still for a VERY long time to get a clear shot. He was able to get several unique images from my set that that day. Only three have been finished so far. It was this shoot that sparked my own interest in creating self-portrait nudes. I created a separate account to post them on under the name Simone
This image was taken on 18 September 2010, we started the shoot around 11 am and finish around 6pm. This rocky area is in a place called "the mission" that is in Tijuana, Mexico, the model is called Cesar and I have worked in 5 sessions before I know perfectly well that their angles and body. When you reach this place and saw this rock, just imagine the model lying on it in fetal position like if he were born. It's one of my favorite photos.
(white king contemplates)
model: violet. There are very few tricks to my photography so it's rather hard to explain how I achieve a result. . . it generally derives from the dynamic relationship between model, photographer, the space and the light.
This image is part of a series of chess move images we created as part of our shoot. . . for the sequence I was shooting in a room in my house which had a black and white color scheme and featured a tall mirror . . . I wanted to play on the black and white motif so used a chessboard, set up an endgame and tried to give my lovely model a few pointers on how chess was played. . . I then got her to play against herself, moving from one side of the bed to the other . . . in some shots her face and front are reflected in the mirror while we see her back; in this image we see her front and the mirror sees her back.
The idea was partly to get away from a straight pose for camera by having the model engaged in an activity and seemingly unaware of the camera . . . and also to juxtapose violet's extraordinary beauty against an activity that is often seen to be the preserve of geekish old men . . . so beauty and brains combined . . . I was pleased that a lot of people saw the sequence of images in that light.
Please check out the other images in the sequence: pondering her move, king to queen 3, black knight and knight checks white.
Photographer Jack Paton and I were shooting some studio silhouette poses with a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi when I suggested doing some yoga poses. I entered the first pose of the Sun Salutation and he snapped this image
I then took that image into Photoshop CS4 and used a combination of the Magic wand, The Lasso tool, and the Magnetic Lasso tool to select only my silhouette from the photo and place it on a new page, as a new layer. Then I simply duplicated that layer a whole bunch of times and twisted and turned them until they were in a position I liked.
Location: Greensboro, NC, USA
Description of the Space: My parents' somewhat spacious master bathroom, at sunset. The bathtub is a Jacuzzi.
This was my first shoot ever with a model, and this shot was the first of the nudes that turned out the way I wanted. If I only got one shot the entire day, this had to be it. The idea was to create an image that was both voyeuristic AND intimate. In other words, an accidental glance into a private moment, but without the "peeping Tom" feel. The model is aware that the door is open and that she could be seen, but is not attempting to be an exhibitionist, nor is she actually aware that she's being observed. This would make the viewer someone she trusts - most likely a husband or boyfriend, but could also be conceivably perhaps the model's sister or child, or something.
The light is natural available light, controlled only by closing one curtain and opening the other.
The Problems: The first problem is that I was NOWHERE NEAR as articulate about what I was trying to achieve as what I just said. It wasn't until about 6 months after I already had the shot that I was able to put all that into words. I knew what I wanted, but I couldn't express it. That lead to the first 20 minutes of this part of the shoot being tedious as Cassandra tried sitting pose after sitting pose in that exact location, and still not coming up with what I wanted.
And the sun was about to go away.
The second problem is that I shot with a low ISO setting, and there wasn't as much light as I wanted.
AND THE SUN WAS ABOUT TO GO AWAY!
The Solutions: The pose came by serendipity. By having her try so many different poses, she started to run out of ideas. It was during one of the times when she was trying to think of something new that she accidentally gave me exactly one of the elements I needed (and didn't yet know I needed). I needed her to NOT pose to make it authentic. I caught this in a moment (hence the title) when she was no longer in that bathroom, but lost in her own thoughts and genuinely not thinking about the door or anything beyond it. Though it wasn't intentional on my part that time, I may use a trick like that again in the future.
As for the second problem, I made the wrong choice. Instead of bumping up the ISO setting, I used a tripod. It worked, but I know better, now.
Post-Processing: I used Lightroom to adjust brightness/contrast and color balance while still in RAW format. And then I cropped WAY in, because I was much too wide in-camera (which means I actually lucked out by having less noise with the lower ISO).
(Papillon en liberté - The free butterfly) :thumb266483100: ....it is, for me, a poetic way to describe the beautiful tatoo that belong to my model`s back.
It was the first time I worked with this model and I was looking at her and try to find the best way to really improved her beauty and curves.
After an hour and half of testing(I am not a pro !),I just asked her to face the black wall and sitted on her knees.
I found a little brown satin ``coussins`` and place it under her arms !
Asked her to move her head down little bit and shooted six or seven times.
Here is for you,the simple story of one of my best !
(Shmooze XXXV) :thumb153031898: This was done by getting the model to lie on the rocks exposed in the surf and then me creeping very carefully next to her in the water as well (salt water is not conducive to healthy cameras). It was about midday when we were there, so I positioned myself with the sun behind me to avoid the glare. From there it was just a matter of trying to use the rule of thirds (approxiamately) so that the model and rocks were off to one side of the photo and not smack in the middle. That way the eye is drawn more to the model and not stuck straight in the middle of the image. Then a little bit of photoshop to alter the levels and contrast and that was it. I do not have a big fancy DSLR, just a very good point and shoot with good lenses. My philosophy is that with practice, a good eye and a very willing photogenic model (with a little knowledge of photoshop ability) great images can be produced.
(Innana in the Field)
Description of the Location: Outside Madison, NC, in a field outside the Bona Manzee Conference Center. The conference center was formally a farm. The typography of the land is extreme - the conference center is on a hill as are the barns. Between them, there are two small ponds. Around the property there are dense, tall, trees. A dirt road cuts between the two ponds and there is a wooden split rail fence.
The shoot was in late November and despite the fact that we arrived after sun rise, the sun was still low in the sky and the trees further screened the mid-morning light as though it were much earlier.
Innana wanted to work by the edge of the pond nearest the larger barn. The tall grass had turned dry and yellow - it reached almost to her mid thigh. The sun through the grass enhanced the golden glow of the light.
We had worked on this series before and in order to keep the same look and feel, Innana wore a transparent white robe (see some of our other work).
The Problems: The trees around the property caste long, dark shadows around the edges of the fields. The angle of the sun made the shadows very long so we were forced to work toward the center of the field, near the edge of one of the ponds. This meant that for most of the shoot, Innana would be between me and the sun. Even if I attempted to change my metering mode, or alter my exposure, the back lighting would be severe - severe enough to either overshadow Innana or if I exposed exclusively on her, the background would have been blown out.
The tall grass added to the problem. Aside from the fact that it concealed much of her body, the grass further diffused the light and made the back lighting problem even more severe.
If that weren't enough, Innana is very pale skinned and she typically reflects much light. Add a white robe to that and it doesn't take much light to make her glow. This would further complicate the lighting problems. The intensity of the light would also diminish the dynamic range of color that the camera perceived. The photo would be relatively colorless and visually "flat".
I wanted a very specific effect - I wanted to make it look like the sun was breaking around her from behind without losing any detail in her face, body or in the wicker bench on which she was standing.
The Solution: We train our photographers to consider several things when working in a situation such as that one: The volume, intensity, and direction of light. We also train our photographers to look for the "blackest black" and the "whitest white" - the closer the whitest white is to "pure" white and the blackest black to "absolute" black, the narrower the dynamic range of color. So, the solution to the problem is to narrow the difference between the black and white points. This is done by increasing the volume of light in front of Innana. As we often say, don't light the model. Light the scene.
There are many ways to accomplish this. If I had portable strobes, I could have used them. The danger with portable strobes is the potential loss of detail - the photo would look less than "natural". Our goal is to produce photos that look like only natural or ambient light have been used. To increase the volume of light, I used two Canon 580 ExII flashes mounted on Pocket Wizard TT5 units. I also used a gold colored reflector.
One flash was set atop a small tripod and pointed toward Innana with the head raised 45 degrees. This would ensure that the light from the flash would fill the space around her and not over light her skin. The second flash was positioned in the grass, pointed toward the reflector. The reflector was to my right and the tripod to my left. Both were roughly 45 degrees to Innana. I adjusted my exposure and shutter speed accordingly. Note that you can see the folds of the robe over her arms despite the intensity of the back light. Despite the intensity of the back light, her skin tones are quite nice and there is excellent detail in her face.
(Black and Red 685-25)
Location: An abandoned barn near Spring Lake, NC, USA
Time: Late afternoon, October 2010
Description of the Space: The barn as designed had a loft, and on the first floor three rooms. One of the rooms occupies half the first floor. The second room has no windows and occupies one quarter of the first floor and the last room, where this photo was taken, had three doors (one to the outside, one to the windowless room, and the third to the large room) and a bank of windows, all knocked out, to the left of the front door. The stairs to the loft are located here in the far corner.
The model, Isis (a.k.a skinneyknees 123) decided to "set up shop" under the stairs to the loft, in a dark area of the front room. She also wanted to use a black cloth that would have been lost in the shadows under the stairs.
The Problem: I don't own portable strobes and in this case even if I did I wouldn't want to use them. Isis’ red and black cloth coupled with her skin tones and the texture of the painted wood wall behind her, were exquisite and I wanted to maintain the soft shadows that made the scene look like a painting. Too much light would have lost the shadows and the painting-like effect. However, experience suggested that without some sort of additional light the image would have been unevenly light at best and potentially, large areas in front of Isis would have been burned out while the wall behind her would have been lost in the shadows. In all likelihood I would have lost detail in her skin as well since it would have become "hot".
The Solution: The House of NyghtFalcon has developed its own lighting methodology. According to that methodology, we never light the subject. Instead we raise the volume of light around the object in order to maximize the dynamic range of color. Lighting the subject can and often does make things worse especially by bleaching the skin and making shadows even harsher.
So, in order to raise the volume of light, I used two Canon 580 EXII flashes attached to Pocket Wizard Flextt5 remote flash firing units. One of the flashes, mounted on its Flextt5 was placed at the intersection of two walls near the doorway between this room and the largest room on the first floor - at about a 45 degree angle to Isis. Since I wanted a warmer, softer light, I placed this flash in front of a gold colored reflector that I bent slightly into the corner so that the light would be as diffused as possible. This flash was set to 1/8th full power. The goal was to bounce the light from the flash off the reflector and into the room, ultimately filling the space around Isis.
The second flash was positioned at the base of the stairs to Isis’ left. I did NOT aim the flash at Isis. I aimed it at the wall. This flash was set at 1/16th full power and positioned so that the head of the flash was pointed up at 45 degrees to the wall - enough to raise the volume of light around Isis without creating harsh shadows as the light passed through the open stairs above her. This would also allow the blue painted wood wall behind Isis to standout enough to create additional drama.
Post-Processing: We use DxO Optics Pro Elite and the House of NyghtFalcon has a strategic partnership with them. Most of the work we do on an image is done while the image is RAW. In this case, I selected
Location-A chapel at an abandoned boys village, llantwit Major, Wales.
Time of day- Mid afternoon, august 2007
Description of the location-
The location spanned over four sections, the boarding house, the mess area, the swimming pool, communal showers and gym area and the chapel.
The whole place had been stripped bare of everything apart from the piano, some large wooden tables , the stained glass cross window and the kitchen.
There was also a large oak table in the middle of what looked like a hospital part of the village, but was in fact a slaughter house.
This was not a planned idea, In between shots and cleaning up (as you can see by my feet, I am covered in dust and silt and broken glass) I sat down and started playing the piano, as I am a musician.
The shot- This shot is totally un posed, undirected and natural. All that was used to light the image was the light coming from three windows, one in front, one on the left and one to the back of the room.
In order to light the feet the photographer used the light reflected from some broken mirror on the floor.
I really cannot tell you what make of camera this was taken with as it was a while ago and I am no longer in touch with the photographer
Post Processing- The only post processing on this shot was a light border and dust removal from under my feet, as you can see I’m a curvy girl and in order to keep this natural, we did no alterations to my appearance.
(Nude at Sunrise)
The image was one of about 150 I took that morning. I knew the location well but we were still on site about half an hour before the sunrise to decide exactly where we'd like to take the pictures. I metered the scene as the sun began to rise to record the colors in the sky and then used a flash mounted on the camera's hot shoe to lighten the figure a little and give it some detail. The first few test shots were taken as the sun began to appear over the horizon. At that time in the morning, the sun rises quite quickly in the sky and the light changes accordingly. I had to adjust the settings to keep pace with the changing light, now using the LCD screen as a guide. As luck would have it also, there was a boat on the horizon just where the sun had appeared. It was a distraction to my eye, and after about 20 or thirty images (about 10 minutes shooting) in which I just couldn't get a composition or an exposure that I liked, I changed my position relative to the model so that the horizon was now out of view. The scene was metered again and the flash settings were also re-adjusted. This time I began to get images that I liked, and the one above was the most pleasing to my eye, mainly due the model's wonderful expressive pose. We took another 20/30 images in this way. As the sun rose in the sky the light in the scene continued to change, so we again moved positions and continued to shoot something entirely different for another 30 minutes or so, but by that time the color in the sky had become washed out so we called it a day and went home. Some of the other images we got can be seen in the model's gallery here Arkandia:
The only image I used (shown above) was shot in RAW and edited slightly for brightness, colors, and contrast with my Canon RAW editor. That finally gave the final image shown. Kind regards, Mike.