Steven Brokaw Photography

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Model Shannon Barry

 Did a photoshoot recently with model Shannon Barry.  The goal was to work on some lighting techniques, but also give a photographer friend a chance to work with me on a model shoot.  I put a call-out for a model and Shannon agreed to work with me.  We agreed to her fee and off we went.

As normal I sent a written summary of the theme, lighting technique I wanted to try, and that I would be working with another photographer.  For this shoot we would be doing 3 sets.  The first in the industrial side of M10 Studio.  A second with spot lighting on a couch and lastly a fashion styled shoot against a Savage Seamless Background Paper fashion grey sweep.  All shots were going to be shot in RAW, but processed in black & white.  Since I didn’t hire a MUA for this session I discussed makeup plans with Shannon along with the clothes to bring.  I shared the same information with my co-photographer so he would know the concept.  Good to go.

Because we were shooting in the industrial space I loaded all of my camera gear, light meter, reflectors, stands, extension cords, etc. onto a studio cart.  Key lighting was from an Elinchrom D-Lite 4 with a softbox on a Manfrotto rolling light stand boom. All shots were taken with my Nikon D600 and either my Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8 G-ED VRII or Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G prime

We set up in a very gritty part of the building for the first shoot.  The idea was to create a light “trap” for the shoot.  I aimed and metered the light at a specific location.  I then had Shannon walk into the light and when she got into the right spot I fired off 2-3 images.  I wanted the effect of her walking along a gritty back alley.  Got some cool effects.  I couldn’t resist myself and also had her do a few poses in the same location.  While in the back I showed the other photographer what I was doing and let him shoot an equal number of photos.

After about 45 minutes we went back to the studio.  I had originally planned to use a beauty dish on an Elinchrom D-Lite 4 set at the lowest power to give a spotlight effect on Shannon while she was sitting on the couch / on the floor leaning against the couch.  I was going to shoot the images with the studio light off.  This didn’t work.  The light was too diffused so I didn’t get the desired spotlight effect.  No dramas, I switched to a simple Nikon SB-600 speedlight with a HonlPhoto ¼” Speed Grid and a second Nikon SB-600 set at low power hand held aimed in various locations.  Both speedlights were triggered with my Elinchrom EL-Skyports.  This worked great.  I put the gridded speedlight on a boom and moved it around as needed.

I had Shannon switch into black tee, black tights and long black boots along with dark sunglasses.  A cool vibe.  Smoky club meets Terminator. 

Finally, I switched Shannon over to a Fashion Grey sweep and we did directed and free formed posing.  This was done with my Elinchrom D-Lite 4 mounted in an Elinchrom beauty dish.  Taking tips I picked up a few weeks ago I used a number of sheets of black foam core mounted on lightstands to prevent light bouncing back onto Shannon.  I wanted to maximize the lighting contrast.  I light this lighting setup and I think we got solid results.  

During the studio part of the shoot ½ of the time was spent showing my co-photographer how I was shooting, how I was setting my camera settings, how a light meter worked, how to position lighting, etc.  It was fun to talk through what I normally just do in my head from experience.  Overall, a fun shoot with an excellent model.

Tips for my next shoot:
  • If you are doing a lighting “trap” make a mark someplace on the ground to watch.  When the subject gets to the mark that’s when you take your photos.  I had a few where I shot too early or too late…thus the value of burst mode,
  • Use manual focus set at the “trap” spot.  Because the location was fairly dark – as I wanted – the auto-focus lagged even though I shot with top notch glass.  At the wider aperture that meant I had a few out of focus shots.  Shift in manual and focus on a prearranged location.  Problem solved,
  • Play with your lighting.  When I did the couch shots and for the first 15 minutes I thought I wouldn’t be able to get the look I wanted with the Elinchrom even at the lowest power.  I thought, “might as well try a speedlight” and this worked great.  Play with your lighting.
  • If you are shooting with studio strobes out of studio and without portable rechargeable batteries make sure you know where the plugs are in advance.  I did this and was glad I did.  Some of the plugs in the industrial space were not hot.  I avoided spending lots of time finding juice.
  • If you are shooting with someone else walk them through everything.  This was half the fun.

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