Steven Brokaw Photography

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Did a “themed” photoshoot with local model Amanda Veldkamp, and local photographer Faith Blackwell at the Stutz Building in Indianapolis.  Great times!  The theme was Shadows.  The idea was to use low light combined with single or multiple speedlights or monolights to create various shadow effects.

I spent hours researching ideas to shoot, lining up the model, planning the makeup (I know, I know sounds silly for a guy to worry about a model’s makeup, but hey got to get the right effect) and arranging the studio.  All came together smoothly, and we started up on time. 

I brought massive amounts of kit with the idea of covering everything.  Once again, as with other shoots I brought way too much equipment.  Oh well, I used to be a Boy Scout, so I wanted to be prepared.  Here was a condensed version of the kit I brought:
I know, I’m exhausted too.  You guessed it I used only a portion of the kit.  I ended up using the speedlights, the RPS Studio Softbox, the snoots & the Elinchrom triggers.  I used my Nikon D300s and the Nikkor 24-70mm almost exclusively.  Now get this people, I also brought an old school Nikon F50 SLR film camera mounted with the 85mm lens.  I shot a roll of B&W film with it.

All shots with the D300s were taken in manual setting.  I started off at 1/160 of a second shutter speed, ISO 400 and aperture set at F/8.  I also set my exposure compensation + 0.3 – 1.0 throughout the shoot.  I found I adjusted the shutter speed and aperture as needed, but kept the ISO fixed throughout the shoot.  We did 4 series, 3 in the studio and 1 in the hallway.  

The first shoot in studio consisted of 1 speedlight with the RPS softbox mounted and a snooted speedlight projecting a light circle behind Amanda against the background.  The background was made of fashion magazine pages taped to the wall.  We moved the softbox around camera right, front and left to get the shadows we liked.  Directing Amanda the entire time.

The next series was the same setup, only without the snooted speedlight but this time against a plain white background.  I won’t go into the details because the light was too bright (very large windows) and I couldn’t get usable shadowing that appealed.

Final studio setup was against a black background which blocked most of the windows.  I used the speedlight/RPS softbox setup camera left.  Again, no kicker or snooted strobe to add any lighting effects. 

The next setup was to move into the bowels of the building and shoot in a VERY dark, long hallway.  It was very industrial, but my type of place.  We had Amanda switch out of a tee-jeans combination into a black dress.  Good choice since it added to the atmosphere.  Also, I didn’t want a pretty girl look, so I asked Amanda to muss up her hair and give me a bit of attitude.  Jackpot people, she was picture perfecto.

All shots in the hall used either the single speedlight / RPS Studio softbox setup, or a single snooted speedlight.  All lighting was off camera with the speedlights mounted on the Manfrotto lightstands.  In ALL of the shots we manually set the speedlights adjusting the power up or down to taste.  We also moved the lighting around to get the desired effect.

The hall shots worked the best for me.  As you might have guessed from earlier posts I like the darker images.  I got a number of great shots in this series.  Also, for the last 30 minutes or so I asked Amanda to get on the floor and prop her legs up against the metal doors, or sit and do various poses.  The floor was cold, but she was a true pro and worked the set very well.  I really liked the shots on the floor.

All-in-all we ended up spending close to 3 ½ hours and took away approximately 500 images.  My shooting partner, Faith, did an equivalent amount.  The entire day was great fun and I ended up with really nice images.  I will definitely do this again.

My after action report:

·         Plan ahead and don’t bring unnecessary kit.  I knew I was going to move around and take different types of shots so I came prepared.  Honestly I could have left ½ of the kit at home

·         Plan your photo style and what you want in advance, but be very flexible.  I had a general idea what I wanted (I bought sketches and sample photos), but after about the 2nd series I went off script which worked great.

·         Experiment with light.  We tried all types of shadows and I was surprised how hard it was to get the right look. 

·         Plan out the details with your model in advance including time, fee, makeup, clothes, etc.  I wanted to make sure Amanda was prepared.

·         If you don’t have a Nikkor 24-70 F/2.8, do yourself a favor and go get yourself one.  It will set you back, but you will thank me.

New York City Boy

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