Steven Brokaw Photography

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Had a chance to do a test shoot with local model Cecilia Hernandez.  I had followed her work for a while and knew she was top notch.  So this was a good chance to work with an experienced model & work on various lighting effects.  The plan was to a lighting test and then hire her for a more formal session.  More on this later.  Since this was a test shoot no MUA or hair stylist was hired.  No problems, Cecilia came prepared.

The setup was straight forward & consistent with what I’ve been recently doing, except for this shot I used a second light and used a different key light.  This was all possible because I had recently purchased several new modifiers, a new Manfrotto Super Boom and several other pieces of kit from B&H Camera.  Yummy.

My key light for this shoot was modified with a new Elinchrom Octabox Midi53”.  Recently I’ve been shooting these types of images with an Elinchrom 27” Softlight beauty dish reflector, but for this shoot I wanted to try a softer light.  Also, like I said, I just purchased it, so I MUST USE.  Also, instead of using an Elinchrom D-Lite it 4 as a key light I used my newly purchased Elinchrom Style RX1200 studio light.  This was mounted on a new Manfrotto Super Boom.  The boom is huge and allows much more flexibility to move the light in & out as the boom is longer, the base is wider and the head moves in 2 directions with cranks at the end.  Yummy deux.  I have to tell you though; setting up this lighting rig the first time was a pain.  It’s a real ballet to get everything together because it’s awkward and heavy.  The Octabox takes some getting used to setting up.

As my second light I used an Elinchrom D-Lite 4 with an 8” reflector and a 20 degree grid.  I wanted to use this to throw a soft light on the background.  Starting off this light was mounted camera left.  I planned to move this around during the shoot.

I set the key light about 72” high aimed at Cecilia’s midriff.  She is about 6’2” in heals so I find at a 68-72” height this works best.  Light was moved both camera left and camera right.  I shot against a fashion grey seamless made by Savage.

Camera settings were ISO 125, 1/160 & f/9-11.  I used my Nikon D600 with an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G.  Since there was no makeup and I set up the day before we got started soon after she arrived.

As expected Cecilia was great.  She had very solid posing skills and knows how to work with a photographer and lights.  She needed very little directions so it gave me more time to just watch the movements and fire away at the right time.  After every shot she changed poses (unless I asked her to hold a pose).  What I like about Cecilia is that she has very strong / angular features.  This allowed for very nice breaks between shadows if I wanted it. 

Because we were moving along so well I even had a chance to switch out the key light with a different modifier.  After I worked with the Octabox for a few sets I switched to an Elinchrom Rotalux 20x51” softbox as the diffuser.   This strip diffuser was put on the Elinchrom RX1200 and placed high over my model aimed down.  The plan was to simply see what effect I could get versus the round diffuser.  It was fun to experiment.

One of the nice things about this shoot is that I had a second model join us for this lighting test.  Laine Lindsey had also joined us.  I was able to allow Laine and Cecilia to take turns during the shoot.  This allowed me to work with both models, neither who I’ve worked with previously and get different looks.  I’ll write a separate post about shooting with Laine later.  Bottomline, I felt I had a good session and we got some really nice shots. 

It was enjoyable to work with 2 skilled models while experimenting with new equipment.  I had a general idea in mind what I wanted to accomplish but no hard-defined lighting plans.  I think it worked well and gave me a basis for later refinement.  Oh, BTW the week after the test shoot Cecilia got signed by BMG.  Although this meant I wouldn’t be able to use her again unless I went through the agency I thought it was great news.

After action report:
  • Do test shoots with new models.  I hadn’t worked with either model before so this was an experiment not only with lighting, but also with using models I hadn’t worked with before.   I normally don’t do TFP shoots, but in this case I did.
  • Try new effects.  I had been using the same lighting setup for about 5 previous shoots and really like it, but it was enjoyable just trying new setups. 
  • Make sure the models have a place to set up and get changed.  I had recently moved into a new studio and haven’t figured out the best place to let the models get ready.  I need to work on this.
  • If using new equipment set up early or the day before.  It took me about 2-3 hours to figure out how to set up all the new softboxes and get everything figured out
  • Remember, if this is a TFP, you MUST quickly follow-up with the model with copies of photos you promised.  I always try to do this.

Selling Glass - Need To Decide

Photoshoot with Katherine Gulling