Friday, May 16, 2008

One in Three

StephanieLast Sunday, May 11th, was our big Dunvegan Keep Strobist meetup. It was the makeup day for being rained out on April 27th. Hindsight being 20/20, we probably shouldn't have held it on Mother's Day. The day just felt weird for me. Half of our team was unable to make it for one reason or another (really, it was Mother's Day ... that's what I attribute it to).

Overall, the mood of the day was okay. The weather was outstanding, sunny and comfortable for most of the day. A little overcast would have helped. My team didn't really shot much until around 2pm when our model showed up (I'm still processing pictures of Melissa, our scheduled model; more in a later post). But before that, we tried to set up a few shots and shoot a few of ourselves. I found that moderately frustrating. Not because we were shooting ourselves but because there were just so few of us in our group. We had a plan for about 7 people working together and providing certain equipment, but when push came to shove, we were down to mostly my gear. And really, with such a beautiful day, we didn't really need to be shooting Strobist-style.

The art of flying without flying.When 2pm came around, Melissa showed up and we were able to spend about 90 minutes with her before she had to leave. We got four different setups done. I can't say I was really happy with all of them. Looking back, I think the shots we did outside were being hampered by the blazing sun. Shooting at 2pm just makes it difficult to try and come up with something decent. The ambient light is all flat and shadows are harsh so you have to try and find some way to block out the sun. Or you have to find some way to overpower it.

What I figured out though, is that even though you have strobes, you don't necessarily need to use them to come away with a great photo. During the last half hour of the day, some of the other models were asked to jump into the pool at the Keep. Water shots are fun. There's so much you can do with them. There's the action shot of jumping in. There's the slow and sensual shot you can get of the model slipping out of the pool, hair all slicked back and wet. There's the calm intensity you can find when the model is just wicking away the water from her face as she's surfaced. Honestly, just lots of ideas floating around there.

By around 3:30, the light was getting to a point where you could position yourself and get a decent, but hard, shadow out of it. Something that worked well in this case. Looking at the dozen or so photos around the pool, I wanted to treat them in different ways, come up with a different look and feel for each one. These three were my favorite. A mix of dark and unsaturated, super-saturated, and blown out. Three looks for the same person. I think they all worked well.

StephanieThree of the things I walked away with this day was that it really is difficult to work with the sun during the harshest points in the day. I just couldn't find a way to make my shots with Melissa work "well" when having to deal with the sun. I need to practice with that. Second, no matter how much equipment you have or how hard you try to incorporate it, it's ok to put it away and just find a shaded corner (or even an unshaded pool) and have fun with the photos. Remember, it's a learning experience, it doesn't have to always be a fruitful one for your portfolio. Third, I really need to get some reflectors. I found those to be some of the most useful things to have this day, mostly because of how much light from the sun there was. The strobes just couldn't easily overpower it. Ok, make this four things. A big white sheet makes a great portable cloud. I'm glad I picked one up for this, it came in handle not only for me but for a few other groups who were trying to deal with some harsh mottled sun and shade.

The model pictured within this post is Stephanie. She lives here in the Central Texas area and has worked with us before. She's fun to work with, has a great attitude, and seems to be willing to do anything reasonable if you ask.

If you ever get a chance to check out Dunvegan Keep, do go. It's an interesting place and there's certainly quite a few areas, aside from the pool, that would be great to photograph people in. I'm just said I couldn't figure out a way to make the half-finished turret work in a photo. Next time, though, maybe next time.

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