Friday, September 26, 2008

Eureka! I'm getting this.


Monday night, James invited me to come and shoot with him at his studio on SOCO. He'd scheduled two models to come out for the evening so we could take turns with them. Overall, it was a good night, but still a struggle for me creatively because I don't yet have the confidence I know I need when working with a model. A lot of that comes from the lack of understanding what makes a "good" pose or idea. We ended up shooting for a few hours, James working on his ideas, and me stepping in every now and then to try something out.

I had another minor epiphany that night when it comes to my photography: I need to trust the histogram more. In past shoots, I would take a few shots, look at the screen, take a few more, look at the screen, chimping the settings and then finding that I might be off as much as a stop or two when getting them on the computer.

That's disheartening, really, thinking that you've got something spot-on in camera and then trying to work to recover detail because you pooched the shot.

But, Monday night was different. I knew I needed to try something different so each time I shot, I tried to pay attention to the histogram and wonder of wonders, I found that I was exposing too darkly, even though the image looked good on the camera. I guess it's like flying a plane in a dense fog bank: you shouldn't necessarily trust your eyes to tell you that you're moving straight and level. Sometimes you have to fight your senses and force yourself to pay attention to the instrumentation to make your minor (or major) adjustments in order to successfully land the plane. Same thing in photography.

And guess what? I was much happier with my results this time. I went into the shoot unsure of what I wanted out of it and came away with a better handle on this thing I'm trying to get the hang of. James was a lot of help, describing some of what he was doing, how he was working with the models. I tend to be a visual learner. I got that from my Dad who instilled a "watch one, do one, teach one" mentality in me. So, being able to watch James work was extremely helpful, especially without the distraction of dozens of people being around.

On the left is Hayley. I shot her with a large softbox at camera left. The background is gray seamless that is blown out with one AB-800 (on camera right) and one SB-800 on camera left. The pose happened completely by accident. I had just finished shooting her and was going to put my camera away when she reached up and touched her mouth to wipe something away. I loved what it looked like and lept back into place, almost yelling "DO THAT AGAIN!"

On the right is Emily. Same setup, but without the background being lit up at all. The white balance has been dropped from flash down to around 3650K, giving it that blue-green tint. When Emily saw the raw versions of these, she commented how she liked the way her collarbone was exposed. It made me realize that there's a delicateness and sexyness to that pose. I'll have to keep that in mind for the future.

Both models were great to work with. Definitely people I would want to shoot again.

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