Steven Brokaw Photography

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Another themed model shoot.  This time I had the idea called “Mystery Man”.  The theme was to have an attractive model doing her normal poses, however, with 2 differences.  First, the Mystery Man part of the shoot would be in the industrial parts of the Circle City Industrial Complex versus in Studio.  CCIC is the building housing our M10 Studio.  Secondly, I would get a guy to stand behind my model and “lurk” in the background.  The idea was to light the model and use a shallow depth of field.  The Mystery Man would be dark, in the background and out of focus.  Kind of a creeper look.  Sorry, strange things go on in my noggin sometimes.

Once the idea was locked down I went to my go-to MUA, Sasha Starz.  She said sure.  Next line up a model. I wanted someone willing to work in an industrial space and had hard edges.  I turned to a model I had planned to shoot for some time.  Got the model lined up so everything was good to go.  Finally, I lined up my nephew (he’s uber cool) who was interested in playing the part of the mystery man.  Oh, BTW, I’ve got my own studio, so no problems with that important part!!

As an added bonus I was doing a set in studio against a black backdrop, and offered my nephew the opportunity to pick up one of my camera’s and shoot the first set with me.  He was a willing student.

The day of the shoot was here, and you know what?  You guessed it, my model went radio silent.  Couldn’t get ahold of her, so I asked Sasha to ping her.  Unfortunately, she told Sasha she couldn’t make it.  3 hours before the shoot, and I was sans model.  Argh!!

No dramas though.  Sasha worked her Rolodex and within an hour she had lined up the fresh model talents of Traci Muston.  Excellent.

I went to the studio and set up the lights, background & waited for everyone to arrive.  On time they arrived.  Traci was going to be good.  She had the looks, long hair, multiple changes of clothes, and a willingness to do something different.  Sasha immediately went to work on Traci.  And as I expected Sasha was uber.


While Traci was getting ready I walked my nephew through the model photographer’s paces.  I showed him that we were going to use a clamshell lighting setup with an Elinchrom D-Lite 4 with softbox as the top of the clamshell, and a reflector umbrella with a Nikon SB-600 speedlight as the bottom of the clamshell.  We set the lighting about 8 feet away from the backdrop.  This is the same setup used for my  Kabuki Girl shoot (see a previous blog post).  Our Nikons were set at manual mode, ISO 200, flash preset WB, 1/160 speed & f/8.  I was using my Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8, and the other camera was set up with my Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 Di LD.  The Tamron is A-OK for studio work, but like I’m mentioned previously not good for lower light shooting since it’s not VR equipped and it just doesn’t focus fast enough.

Traci was ready to go and we positioned here between the clamshell and fired away.  My nephew and I traded turns shooting with me directing Traci the entire time.  Although Traci was a new to the modeling game she had one great feature.  She’s the first model I’ve worked with that could hold a pose for as long as needed.  No kidding, you could get her into the right pose and POW, she locked it down.  This was EXTEMELY helpful when shooting with a second shooter.  Skills!

We worked Traci for about ½ hour, and then it was time to do the Mystery Man.  We loaded all of our camera gear, change of clothes, and 2 Nikon SB-600 speedlights, set up to be triggered with my Elinchrom Skyports and portable snoots and RPS Studio Softbox.  We headed into the bowels of the building.

Once in the industrial side of the building we positioned both Traci and my Mystery Man in different positions, distances apart and lighting in different locations.  Lots of the lighting was trial and error since the lighting was very mixed.  I also adjusted my camera speed and f/stop to get shallower DOF.  This is really the first time I probably could have used a light meter!  We did 2 sets in the Mystery Man series and got lots of really fun shots.  Everyone was into it.  My goal was to strive for a darker atmosphere.  



After about an hour we had Traci change out of a dress into jeans and top, and my Mystery Man had to head out.  We went into another section of the building and basically did the standard industrial pretty girl portrait works.  I had Traci up against a wall, mixing with industrial props, in a doorway, on a chair.  Basically, anything we could find.  Again, she was great, and took direction well.  




 3 hours were up, and we called it a day.  Got some really good images and we all had a good time.  

After action report:

·         Following experience from our Kabuki Girl I set up a separate makeup area in the back room with color corrected lights.  Much better.

·         I’ve GOT to figure out a way to get hard commitments from my models.  Maybe this comes from experience, but this is the one variable I get most concerned with.  It either makes or breaks the shoot.  I really want to shoot different models, but man it’s risky shooting someone new.  Oh, BTW that’s why I like Sasha…rock solid with her commitments and help.

·         Pull my model farther away from the background.  I had Traci about 3 feet away from the background, and that was too close for my lighting.  I got light spill onto the background that showed up in post.  No problems correcting in post processing, but still.

·         Get a portable power pack for my Elinchrom.  I would have liked using the bigger softboxes with the mystery man section versus my speedlights and smaller softboxes. Oh well, any port in a storm.  It still worked well, but I would have liked the extra flexibility.

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