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".

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Maui Photoshoot with actress/filmmaker Paige Lauren Billiot

Canon 5DmkII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/800 @ f2.0

Paige Lauren Billiot is an accomplished actress/filmmaker/writer that I was fortunate enough to work with on a short morning photoshoot session on the beach in Wailea.

We were lucky enough to have a full crew on this shoot, thanks to her family whom she drafted who were kind enough to volunteer to assist us with the shoot.  It's always great to have a lot of assistants on a shoot as it makes things go much smoother.

Since we had multiple assistants, we were able to use two California Sunbounce reflectors for most of the day's lighting - a silver/white Sunbounce Pro for the main light and a silver/white Sunbounce mini for edge lighting.

I really need to get around to picking up a white/gold zebra replacement fabric for the Sunbounces as I've been told it can be easier on the subject's eyes than the silver fabric.

Canon 5DmkII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/1200 @ f2.0

But thankfully, Paige was a good sport about it and was able to deal with the silver reflectors.

Having multiple assistants holding the Sunbounce reflectors came in handy for shots like the one below.  This is in full bright sun, with one reflector used to put our model in shadow and the other used to add direction to the light.

Canon 5DmkII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/1600 @ f2.0

Found a spot under the shade of some trees to do some swimsuit shots.  Paige had no problem climbing up trees to get the angles I was looking for.

 Canon 5DmkII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/500 @ f2.8

  Canon 5DmkII 85mm f1.2L II iso 200 1/1600 @ f2.0

We also did a few impromptu "Trash the Dress"- style shots down in the water.  Switched to the Sony RX-10 camera to utilize the higher flash sync speed and used 4 Yongnuo 560 III flashes for fill lighting.

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 100 1/1000@f2.8

 I thought Paige pulled off the look pretty well.  It's not easy to pose in the water in the hot sun with dozens of other people playing on the beach nearby. 

Not kidding - there were people like right next to us, just out of the camera view. ;-)

Sony DSC-RX10 24-200mm f2.8 iso 100 1/1000@f2.8

In spite of the hot summer sun and the crowded beach, It was a lot of fun working with such a talented actress. I'm looking forward to working with her again in the future.

Click on the link to view a trailer for her upcoming short film Alex.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dona Lyann Photoshoot in Wailea

Canon EOS 5D mkII 70-200L f2.8 IS II lens iso 200 1/160@f8

I recently had the chance to work with professional bodybuilder Dona Lyann whom I met through Model Mayhem. This was a short sunset session we did on the beach in Wailea.

Canon EOS 5D mkII 70-200L f2.8 IS II lens iso 200 1/250@f2.8

We started off at Polo Beach Park, using a silver California Sunbounce Pro reflector to work with the existing light for the first few looks.

Canon EOS 5D mkII 70-200L f2.8 IS II lens iso 400 1/2000@f2.8

For sunset we switched to using two Cheetahstand V850s firing into a Lastolite Ezybox II Medium Octa. I also switched to using the Sony RX10 as it allowed manual flash sync at 1/1000 as opposed to the Canon EOS 5DmkII which only syncs up to 1/200.

 Using just one light and positioning it about 45 degrees off-camera axis lets the light rake across the model's front, adding definition to her abs. The light also really lit up the fabric quite nicely when Dona was able to catch some wind in it.

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

Bodybuilders are always fun to photograph because you can play around with light and shadow to really show off the muscle tones.  I think next time I'll see if there's a bodybuilder interested in doing a Conan the Barbarian themed shoot. :-)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 Rolando Gomez Glamour, Beauty & The Nude Photography Workshop in Maui, Hawaii

The 2014 Rolando Gomez Glamour, Beauty & The Nude workshop in Maui, Hawaii has wrapped and it was a blast to attend.  Four amazing models from all across the US flew in to experience life on Maui.  For 4 days we traveled around Maui, shooting in Iao Valley, at the waterfalls in Hana, and on the beaches of Kaanapali.

I'll be detailing some of the specific shoots in several upcoming blogposts, but for now here's a brief behind the scenes video.  This was shot mainly handheld with a Sony RX10 camera, with a couple of shots assisted by a Varizoom Stealthy Stabilizer Pro

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Little Beach Photoshoot with LakeGirl

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/2000@f4.0

For our first photoshoot of 2014 back in January, I had the opportunity to collaborate with LakeGirl, a model I met through Model Mayhem.  This was a short swimwear photo session we did in the morning at Little Beach in Makena with the assistance of her husband Luke. The swimwear was provided by Wicked Weasel.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/2500@f4.0

The parking lot was empty as we were the first ones to the beach that morning, and the sun was just starting to peek out from behind the clouds. We started our shoot at the top of the cliff that separates Big Beach and Little Beach, where we attempted to capture some of the early morning light in the background.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso200 1/500@f4.5

To light her up against the morning sky we used a Canon 580EX flash triggered with the Phottix Odin.  A silver California Sunbounce Pro was held just out of the right of the frame to bounce back some of the flash to fill in the shadows.

We next headed down to a lava rock area away from the beach.  This location gave us some nice clear views of the horizon as well as some spots where the waves would crash and give us some nice effects.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/1000@f4.0

Once the sun got high enough in the sky to shine down on the spot we were shooting in, our lighting for the rest of the day's shoot was mainly the morning sun filled in with the silver California Sunbounce Pro.

Tried a few other shots like below where she was lying down on the rocks, but we were getting hotspots from the sun on the upper part of her body.  If we had a 2nd assistant available for the shoot, we could have held a scrim over her to block that out. Instead, we moved her closer to a spot in the shade.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 85mm f1.8 iso320 1/1250@f2.8

Little Beach is actually a really nice location to shoot at.  Gonna have to think about shooting here more often.  Nice variations in scenery to use.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/2500@f4.0

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/1250@f5.6

There was a spot on the rocks that we would get some really nice and large wave splashes, so we positioned our model right at the edge and waited.

For some reason while we were shooting, the paddle boarders and boats in the background seemed to congregate right behind us. . .

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/2500@f4.0

So it took us a while to get the shots we wanted without the background distractions.  But it was worth the wait.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso320 1/1600@f4.0

We moved to the sand and did a few more shots with the black bikini, being careful to hide the growing number of nude beach-goers in the background.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso200 1/3200@f4.0

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso200 1/1250@f4.5

To finish up, I had Luke join her in the water for an impromptu couples shot.

Canon EOS 5DmkII 70-200mm f2.8L IS II iso200 1/2000@f4.0

Loved working with these two! Thanks you guys for making the first shoot of 2014 so much fun!