Filip @ Grace Model Management

Last week I had the pleasure of doing another shoot for Grace Model Management. I’ve done 2 shoots for them before, and both times I’ve got some awesome images for my portfolio, so when they emailed me to ask to do another shoot, I figured that it would be a great idea.

Also, I’d just (finally) brought a speedlite that I really wanted to use for a shoot.

I brought the speedlite so that I could challenge myself with using flash in my outdoor work. I came to this decision after sitting down, looking at my portfolio and really considering what it is that I like about my work. Also, I went through my photography “inspiration folder” to figure out what kind of images I’m drawn to and what it is that interests me.

Having looked through my portfolio, these images of mine really stood out to me:

pete1

Pete

Edith

Edith @ Grace Model Management

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Holly

Considering them, I really thought that they all have quite dramatic lighting, or, at least, there is something about the lighting that adds to the image. One thing I love is drama, and, as every one knows, shadows always add drama, so I considered how I could make my work a bit more dramatic and buying a flashgun seemed like a great idea.

Another thing I wanted to think about in relation to my work is the technical aspect. I love watching videos and researching new lighting setups. I really miss shooting in the studio, and, as I don’t have the money to hire out studios, I’ve been thinking about how to utilize the great outdoors to create images that look like they have been shot in a studio.

Anyway, getting onto the shoot:

I was in London about two weeks ago for a shoot for a client, and it happened to be in Moorgate. Luckily I got there a lot earlier than expected so I took the time to wander about. I’d never been to Moorgate before but I was sure glad I did! I found some awesome locations to shoot, and I knew that as soon as I had the chance, that I wanted to come back and shoot:

Initial Location scouting images.

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The photo shoot with Filip went very smoothly, as he was very comfortable in front of the camera.

I decided to start off with a few quick test shots and then I decided to get out my flashgun and figue out how it works.

I’d brought a TTL wire for the camera, but it proved to be way too short for my liking, so after a few frames of shooting TTL, I decided to stop and use the ambient light for the rest of the shoot. This proved vital; I knew that I wanted to shoot more with the flashgun but there would be plenty of time for that; for now I just wanted to make sure that it worked!

Here is the only “final” image I shot with the flash:

Filip
Exif Data: 1/100th, f9,

Although I like it, I’m aware that it’s not perfect; the flashgun should be raised higher so that the left hand side of Filip’s neck is in shadow, rather than there being such an odd looking shadow. Also, I realized that the tripod I was using was not high enough for my liking, so I know that I have to buy a “proper” flashgun stand!

After shooting with the flash, I knew that I really wanted to continue shooting images that weren’t flat and evenly lit so we took a wander around, trying to find small quiet backstreets that would give us:

a) a quiet and mostly deserted place to shoot. Sometimes model’s can find public spaces intimidating, especially if they haven’t had a lot of experience.

b) the kind of lighting I was after. I was looking for a thin alleyway that had a solid ceiling with a wide doorway, so that I could position Filip in a spot where the ambient light filters in. By shooting in a place with a ceiling, it meant that some light would be blocked, creating shadows that I could control by asking Filip to move. Also, this allowed me to think about shooting different looks and how I could maximize the time we had shooting by trying out different lighting techniques.

Filip 2
Exif Data: 1/100th, f7.1

After shooting these two images, we took another wander (the whole shoot was quite a constant wander, of the best kind) and found another interesting location where the light filtered in from one direction. Havig shot mainly headshots for the last few images, I thought that this would be ample opportunity to shoot some full length shots, which are very much required in a model’s portfolio! Also, I really liked directional lighting in this location, as it allowed for a much more dramatic image than I could have shot in the middle of the street. I also paid very careful attention to the background, which was already quite dark, and I knew that shooting against this would add more of a variety to the images. I shot most of these images in this location in black and white, because I knew that was I was going to edit the images:


Exif Data for both Images: 1/125, f5.6.

We then decided to shoot another image literally 3 steps away from the last location and we ended up shooting this image:

IMG_3483
Exif Data: 1/100th, f5.6

As you can see, the image is vastly different in mood and atmosphere. With a little post production, this image has more of a vintage feel, and the split lighting adds a good contrast to Filip’s face.

It’s super important to be aware as a photographer about how you can use the environment. Look around you in all directions and see the world in shapes, textures and patterns. What will happen if you position your model in front of a textured wall and shoot with a wide aperture? How will this different from shooting below the model and using the sky as the backdrop? What kind of mood will each location add to the image. Do you want a dark background because the model is wearing something bright? Or perhaps your model is wearing black and you want to shoot in front of black wall so that you can pick out details of the clothes using rim lights. The location can really help or hinder an image!

Filip and I then ended up in front of this really cool building (after wandering again), which was a community centre for young adults. I really like the oldness of the location, and the fact that it was full of texture. Also, there was a lot of space for me to back up and shoot, so I knew thart I could get a decent full length image of Filip here. I asked him to sit down on the steps, as I was aware I hadn’t shot any images of him sitting down (variation!). I also like the composition that the door gave to image, which, for me, balanced out the frame:

IMG_3530
Exif Data: 1/125th, f5.6

Just as I was about to go, I noticed this wall, that I’d been standing perpendicular to, and I knew that I wanted to shoot here. Because the wall had a lot of different textures, I asked Filip to put his black jacket on, so that it would separate him from the texture. I had originally intended to shoot this image in black and white, but when I put the image into photoshop, I noticed that Filip’s hair merged too much with the darker stones, which was sorted by editing the image in colour:

IMG_3580
Exif Data: 1/125th, f5.6

After shooting here, we ended up wandering around Liverpool Street, trying to find a backstreet where I could shoot something a little more dramatic. We ended up in a really thin alleyway, which was perfect for what I had in mind, especially when I saw some dark green shutters.

I knew that these shutters would be really easy to turn to black in photoshop, and, as light was only filtering in from above this little alleyway, that the light would hit Filip in an interesting way, almost giving a studio like effect that could be accomplished with snoots. I was aware that this image would end up being quite dark and contrasted, but I thought that it would make a great variation on all of the other images we’d shot so far:

IMG_3808Exif Data: 1/100th, f4.5


All in all, I had a great time shooting Filip, as it really gave me a chance to experiment with ambient light to create different moods and lighting patterns. Also, I got to test out my flashgun (which I’ll totally be using a lot more of!) and I got to create images for Filip’s portfolio!

If you have any questions or comments about my shoot, or to ask about how I did anything, just ask!

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Peregrine

Peregrine (adj):

  • Having no fixed home; changing location regularly as required for work or food.

Peregrine

Original Idea & Inspiration

This image is completely different to the one I originally set out to shoot. Unlike most of my other images, there was no sketch for me to refer to, nor did I make a mood board for inspiration.

Originally, I had the idea of shooting an image of this character who has been travelling for a long time down this long winding path. I wanted to suggest a sense of oddity by having them carry a suitcase to which they are handcuffed, that perhaps what lies in this suitcase is so valuable to them that they can’t let it go. In fact, the more that I thought about this reading, the more I felt that the image would mean something more significant, becoming a commentary on the way in we carry the weight of people, thoughts and feelings that we just can’t discard. I also wanted to hint at the character being some kind of outlaw, or someone who isn’t quite aligned with the rest of society; maybe someone who is a little bit more ‘freer’, yet are so constrained.

Suitcases are somewhat of a reoccurring theme in my work, particularly in my images Bearing The Burden and Detour, and I had both of these images in mind when I shot Peregrine. To be honest, I was a little worried, as I knew that all of these images would end up being similar, and although I suppose this is the case, I do think that Peregrine is more considered and shows a more thorough context.

Looking back for the inspiration of the image, I suppose I can trace the use of a suitcase back to the film The Two Faces Of January, which I watched only a few days ago, in which a character carries a suitcase of money around with him everywhere but I also like this idea of creating an image that has a bit more of a dynamic. Most of my images are quite still, so I thought that it would be great to shoot an image of someone running as it shows that the character has more of a purpose or a final destination in mind. My work is very much tied with the themes of uncertainty and journeys, which link to my overarching commentary about the duality of freedom and constraint within contemporary society.

The Set Up & Camera Settings:

Cinematography, as it always is, was very much an influence in this image, particularly in the way that I decided to place the camera:

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Normally, I shoot my images quite straight on so that the subject is parallel with the camera, but I decided to switch it up a little bit and placed the camera and tripod on a bench to raise the angle of the shot. Shooting from different angles is something I really want to experiment with, but as I’m still in the middle of a series, I don’t want to just start switching up the MO too much.

In terms of the set up for the image, I had the tripod and camera in place, and as I didn’t have an assistant, I decided to set the focusing of the camera to the center focus point, so that I knew where I’d have to be when the shutter clicked. I activated the shutter using my wireless remote set to timer mode, handcuffed myself to the suitcase and starting running back and forth to get the shot!

Here is a gif of other poses I had shot:

peregrineposesgif

Here were my camera settings:

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 15.25.37

After I’d shot the poses and knew that there was at least one that I was happy with, I then expanded the frame, as I knew that I wanted the image to be quite a lot bigger to put a fair amount space between the character and the landscape. I almost always expand the frame by shooting the main image, then tilting and shooting two frames upwards (so that the images overlap one another) and then downwards. I Always do it in columns so that when it comes to photo merging them in photoshop so it is easier for me to organize the images which makes the process that little bit quicker.

I then swivel the camera left and right and do the same if I need to build a wider image. For this image, the frame expansion was quite challenging as it was quite windy, which meant that I ad to wait for the wind to die down before I shoot the images as I wanted to make sure that they matched up properly.

Postproduction:

As you can see by the editing video, my postproduction for this image consisted of only a three steps:

  1. Frame Expansion
  2. Compositing The Sky
  3. Colour Grading

Firstly, I make sure that I have expanded the frame using photo merge to make sure that I have an image that is not only a lot bigger than the standard singular image size, but doing this allows me to crop into my image without compromising the quality, which is super helpful in case I may need to print the image out in the future.

I then composited the sky. The reason I did this is really twofold. The first is because when I expanded the frame; I knew that I didn’t go high enough to get the full natural sky in the final image, so I shot a series of images of the sky at the location afterwards to photo merge so that I could add it in later. The second reason, very much the same reason I added the birds in post was because I’m interested in creating a ‘constructed’ image, especially one where it may not necessarily appear that it has been manipulated so much in photoshop. I know that some people may refer to this as more digital art than photography, but realistically, the advent of digital technology has changed the very definition of photography and I think that it’s future lies within the digital realm. Also, I like to think of photography as a way to reimagine reality and to create events and moments that did not happen. There is a nice little paradox with regards to photography and authenticity as I consider that all photographs are both documentarian and fictitious at the same time.

Lastly, when I was happy with the frame expansion and the sky, I then colour graded the image, which is actually just a process of messing around with selective colour layers, curves adjustment layers and adding solid colour adjustments to selected colour range areas. I really liked how underexposed the original image was, but I realized that keeping it like that would make the image too dark, and it would eliminate all of the details within the image.

Although, I really liked the natural colour palette, but I decided to add some of the same colour blue in the character’s shirt to the sky to visually tie the image together as well as changing the greens of image to a colour that’s more vivid, without being too saturated.

I also used some Adobe Kuler (an app which I highly recommend) swatches that I made ages ago to sample from. When I made them I just picked a bunch of random colours that I don’t often use, so that it is easier for me to remember to use them (otherwise I’d just completely forget!).

Here are some of the ones I used if you want them:

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Detail Shots:

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.23 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.34 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.43 Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 18.51.56

Adding the birds to the image was a completely spontaneous idea. I thought that, as there was so much vast sky, I wanted the viewer’s eye to be looking at something other but I didn’t actually think that they would so much to the overall image. The title, Peregrine, suggests a person who has no fixed home, someone left to wander around, looking for food and shelter, but it also the name of a bird. For me, the inclusion of the birds really ties the character to the idea of wandering, uncertainty and perhaps even escape, whether that’s from a certain someone or from or the escape from living a “normal” life. I also like to think that the birds suggest a certain sense of freedom for the character and by having them both travel in opposite directions gives the image more of a lonely and desolate undertone.

I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the editing process and reading about my image! If you have any questions, you can contact me by posting a comment below or contacting via the following social media sites!

Facebook

www.facebook.com/AaronSehmarPhotography

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www.twitter.com/aaronsehmar

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www.instagram.com/aaronsehmar

Email:

aaronsehmarphotography@gmail.com

Also, I would be very grateful if you could share my video or post! Any support is much appreciated!