Sunday, November 23, 2014

2014 Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop - Building a Headshot with Heather

Heather is always a fun subject to photograph.  At the luau the previous evening, I noticed that she really liked the tuberose flowers in her lei and kept smelling them throughout the evening. For our private shoot session together, I decided to focus on just creating one image - a headshot with tuberose flowers in her hair.

Went to Safeway and picked up a few flower leis.  Also chose some leis that had different kinds of flowers in them to add some color variety to the shoot.

The original concept was to weave individual flowers throughout Heather's hair, and then have her lying in some tulle fabric on the bed.

Our makeup artist Stephanie came up with the idea to turn the flower leis into  a haku lei by simply pinning it around her head.  It saved us a lot of time and actually turned out much nicer than what I had originally envisioned. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best!

The change in the flower style also dictated a change in the shooting location and pose.  Instead of lying down on a bed, the flowers would look better in an outdoor setting in a standing pose.

Picked a spot out on the lanai in open shade for the shoot.

There were tennis courts and a parking structure in the background so a Canon  5DmkIII with the 70-200mm f2.8 was used to compress the background and blur out the distractions.

In the photo above you'll see the two light stands on the right which were left over from the lighting setup that was originally planned for the bedroom.  We ended up not using those two lights, instead relying on the existing natural light for our main light.

Two Canon 600RT flashes were used to supplement the natural lighting.  One was Justin clamped onto the railing behind the model for some edge lighting.

To add a bit of glow from underneath Heather's face, a white bedsheet was placed on a chair as a makeshift reflector and the second 600RT flash fired into it.

Wanted to put something in the foreground to add some depth to the image, so we found this decorative plant near the kitchen.

This was carefully balanced on top of a tripod which was placed between the camera and the model. Lucky for us there was no wind that day.

We started with a few test shots, but didn't have the right feel to it.  I was looking for something a little different, something other than the typical model pose. After Heather and I reviewed some of the images, I suggested that she try snorting those flowers really hard, like a little kid would do.

I'm finding that a lot of times if you can get your model to do something really silly or unexpected- something that makes her laugh then start shooting immediately after, you can get some great natural expressions. :-)

Since Heather was able to nail the look I was after in just a few shots, it was a short but very productive shoot.  Could have played around with adjusting the distance of the flowers in the foreground to bring them more into focus or more blurred out for different looks, but was very happy with the results we got.   Looking forward to working with Heather again for the next workshop. :-)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Experiences at the Rolando Gomez 2014 Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop - Day 3

Since we were all exhausted from the Hana shoot, we took it easy on the third day and stayed on the west side of the island. Our first stop was at Ironwood Beach.

For this day I was partnered with Elizabeth.  We had previously talked about what she could use from me for her portfolio and video was a priority for her. So on this day, we didn't shoot many stills, and mainly concentrated on using the Sony RX10 to gather video footage we would need for her video.

The sun was already high up in the sky by the time we got to the beach, which limited the types of shots we could do.

I knew that I wanted the opening shot of the video to be a crane move so we set up a lightweight DSLR-Devices camera jib arm.

This was set up on a hill overlooking the beach.  I had Elizabeth down by the water, walking into the wind.  Because of the distance, we relied on using hand signals to communicate - Start, Stop, Repeat. Took several tries before we got a usable take.

Once that was done,  I had Elizabeth repeat her walk along the shore, but this time used the Varizoom Stealthy stabilizer for some steadicam-style shots following her.

We then attempted to get a few slider shots, but the wind kept blowing sand into the track.

Since the group was getting ready to leave, Liz and I agreed to come to this location very early the next morning on the private shoot day to shoot some more stuff.

After a quick stop at Honolua General Store, we drove around past Kapalua for additional locations to shoot and ended up at Nakalele blowhole.

It was a bit of a hike to get down to the blowhole so instead, Rolando pointed out that we could use the compression of a telephoto lens to bring the distant blowhole closer to the subject in the composition.

To fill in the shadows, we used 2 Cheetahstand V850 strobes.  No softbox this time since it was pretty windy here.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 800 1/500@f8 

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 800 1/500@f11 

In hindsight, I should have shot some video footage here too to incorporate into the video, but there were too many tourists down below and I haven't figured out yet how to take out people from video like you can in Photoshop.  Maybe someday....

Sunday ended with a trip to the Old Lahaina Luau and some much needed R&R before the following Private Shoot day.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Experiences at the Rolando Gomez 2014 Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop - Day 2 - Hana Waterfall shoot

For this year's workshop we got a bit of a late start to Hana, so we ended up skipping the Black Sand Beach that we shot at last year and went straight to 'O'he'o Gulch in Kipahulu ("Seven Sacred Pools" to the tourists) to shoot at the waterfall.

The Waimoku Falls.

A 400' high waterfall.


Now some people you ask around Hana town might tell you it's an easy 1 mile hike to get up to these falls.


To get up to the base of this waterfall, it is a TWO MILE HIKE. 



All along the trail as you're going up, the people coming down from the opposite direction will smile and tell you "It's just a few hundred yards more" or "oh, you're almost there".

These are cruel and sadistic people - don't believe a word they say.

You're not even close until you see this:

And even then, you've still got a LOOOOONG way to go.

It's a beautiful hike - you will cross bridges and hike through bamboo forests. Lots of places that would make awesome settings for shooting a model in.  But if you're gonna suffer through this hike, you're gonna want to shoot AT the waterfall.

It will take you about an HOUR AND A HALF just to get up to the waterfall.

If you are not in good physical condition, DO NOT attempt this hike because this trail will BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF YOU.

Wear shoes. SHOES! No slippers.

Bring water, bug repellant, and PACK AS LIGHT AS POSSIBLE - bring MINIMAL gear.

Like a dummy, I ignored that last sentence and schlepped up a backpack with 2 cameras (Sony RX-10 and Canon 5DmkIII with a 85mm f1.2L lens), a Manfrotto light stand, 2 Cheetahstand V850 strobesLastolite Ezybox II Softbox, tripod, and a StealthyPro video camera stabilizer.

Yes, yes, I know -  I've been meaning to have my head examined.

If you do survive the hike up to the falls, it is VERY worth it.

However, it is not advised to get too close to the actual waterfall.  With a waterfall of that height, a rock falling down from the cliff most likely will KILL you.

Ok, so now, time to get to work.

This first shot was with the Sony RX10 on the tripod - using a long exposure to blur the water.

Sony RX10 24-200 f2.8 iso 80  .5 sec @ f8

Our model Ashley deserves special recognition for this image. To do a long exposure shot, the model has to hold her pose completely still for several seconds.  What you don't see in the shot are the THOUSANDS OF RED ANTS that were swarming all over the rock she was sitting on (which I didn't realize until she told me AFTER we took the shot).

Modeling - it's not just a job, it's an adventure. :-)

Second setup was with 2 Cheetahstand V850 strobes in a Lastolite Ezybox II Softbox.  I figured since I was crazy enough to hike all that gear up there, I better darn well use it.

Soon after setting up the lighting, it started to rain and we had to pack up and leave, so we only were able to grab a handful of shots.

Canon 5d mkIII iso 800 1/160 @ f8.0

Canon 5d mkIII iso 800 1/160 @ f8.0

Got some great images, but don't know if I'll be crazy enough to attempt this hike again next time. ;-)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Experiences at the Rolando Gomez 2014 Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop - Day 1

This year marked the 3rd time that photographer Rolando Gomez hosted his Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop in Maui, Hawaii.   Stephanie Dawn was our awesome makeup artist again this year and we had four amazing models to work with - Elizabeth, Brittany, Heather, and Ashley.

Remarkably, I did not run into any major mishaps this time like I did last year, like killing my 85mm f1.2L lens  or my wardrobe malfunction, so I was pretty happy about that.

The morning of our first day of shooting was at Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley.  I shot with Heather in the Japanese garden area of the park.

We positioned our model across the pond in the shade of a tree.

For lighting we used 2 Cheetahstand V850 strobes in a Lastolite Ezybox II Softbox which we set up next to the camera position on the opposite side of the pond, about 15-20 feet away. Because of the distance, the front face of the soft box was removed and both strobes were set to full power.

Most of the images below were shot using a Sony DSC-RX10 which can reliably flash sync up to about 1/1000 without the use of a High Speed Sync mode.  This made it possible to keep detail in the bright sunlit area behind the model for this shot.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 200 1/1000 @ f2.8

The light weight of the RX10 also made it possible to get angles that would normally have been difficult to shoot with a regular DSLR.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 400 1/1000 @ f2.8

In the shot above, in order to get the model's reflection in the water framed between the foreground plants, the camera was handheld at edge of the pond one-handed just barely above the surface of the water.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 200 1/1000 @ f2.8

The second setup was underneath another tree, next to a stone lantern.  Once again the RX10's ability to flash sync at 1/1000 with a manual strobe without losing much flash power made it possible to use flash to illuminate the model while still holding detail in the sunlit areas behind her.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 200 1/1000 @ f2.8

Surrounding the Japanese garden was a low rock wall.  Rolando pointed out that the wall could be used as a leading line in the composition of a photograph.  He directed Heather to stand on the wall next to a tree. The light was positioned on the outside of the wall to camera left.  After Rolando took his shots, I shot a few frames to see what he saw.  

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 200 1/200 @ f2.8

You know, I've been to this park many times before and always stepped over this wall to get to the garden without ever giving it a second thought.  It never occurred to me before to think of it in the way that Rolando explained.  

This is one of the reasons why I keep attending his Maui workshops - I  always learning something new. :-)

I also grabbed a few closeups of Heather before we left the park.  Switched back to using the 5DmkIII and the 85mm f1.2L to get a shallower depth of field than the RX10.

Canon 5dmkIII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/250 @ f1.2

That afternoon the group met up in the lobby of the resort in Kaanapali where the workshop was based at so that we could shoot at sunset on the beach.

While we were waiting for the sun to get lower in the sky before shooting the sunset, I decided to look around to see if there was some good light to shoot in while we were waiting.  The wall outside the lobby made for a nice giant natural reflector.

I asked Brittany to stand in the shaded area on the pathway with her back to the sun and we got some pretty nice results. Used the Canon 5DmkIII and 85mm f1.2 lens to throw the background out of focus.

Canon 5dmkIII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/8000 @f1.2

There was a nice breeze channeling through the walkway which made for some nice motion in her hair.
Canon 5dmkIII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/2500 @f2.5

We also experimented with putting objects in the foreground to add more depth to the image.

Canon 5dmkIII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/2500 @f2.5

Found another spot in front of the resort's entrance, on the opposite side of the main lobby. Since this area was totally in shade, we used 2 Cheetahstand V850 strobes in a Lastolite Ezybox II Softbox to add some direction to the light and give some sparkle in her eyes.

Canon 5dmkIII 85mm f1.2L iso200 1/160 @f1.2

Down on the beach at sunset, we used the same lighting setup for most of our sunset shots.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 80 1/320 @ f4

Never realized how hard it is to capture a wave splash with all four models engaging the camera especially when there are several other shooters all trying to get the same shot at the same time.  ;-)

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 400 1/500 @ f4

For this final shot of the day, we were squeezing the last bit of light out of the sky.  This was long after the sun had gone down behind the horizon.  Light was positioned just out of frame to camera right, feathered off just a bit.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 800 1/20 @ f4

Could have played around more with dragging the shutter to see how much more we could push it, but it was time for dinner.

Stay tuned for Part Two - the Hana waterfall or "How to totally beat yourself into a pulp just to get one shot".