Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Shooting Jungle Queens, Ninjas and Bikinis with the Cheetahstand Collapsible Beauty Dish

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/160@f4

My apologies for the lack of recent posts in this blog.  We've still been shooting and taking BTS notes from each shoot, but haven't had the time to organize and do the writeups on them.

Early last year I had the chance of working once again with one of my favorite teams - Luke and Jen. We started with shooting a Jungle Queen theme, which then evolved into a Ninja shoot and we finished off at sunset with swimwear on the beach. Three very different kiinds of looks in one day.

We shot in Kepaniwai Park in Iao Valley, starting at a big banyan tree in the middle of the park. This tree has lots of interesting nooks and crannies to put a model in and around.


For our first set, Jen selected an Ujena swimsuit which fit perfectly with our jungle theme.

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/125@f4

We lit this first series of images with the Cheetahstand CL360 in a QWBD White collapsible Beauty Dish.  This was boomed up overhead with a painter's extension pole modified with a Kacey adapter.


To light up the inside of the tree behind our model, a Cheetahstand V850 with a Saberstrip modifier was attached to one of the inner branches with a Justin Clamp.



The USB radio slave that connects to the V850 flash make the unit slightly too large to fit completely into the Saberstrip, but we were able to get most of it into the tube to make it work.

We started off with some simple poses, but Jen wasted no time coming up with poses that really showed off her physique.

Like this one:

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/125@f4

Working with Jen is a lot like photographing a comic book super heroine or an action figure come to life. It is simply amazing to watch her when she flexes her muscles.

You really need to see it in person - it's like she has built-in Iron Man armor under her skin.

Moving around to the other side of the tree, we shot some reclining poses. This spot did have a slight issue where we were getting dappled light on the model's body so we diffused that with a California SunSwatter.


Wanted a bit more edge light behind the model than the existing natural light was giving us so we moved the Saberstrip to a spot behind the banyan tree.


Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/160@f4

One of the advantages of working with an athletic model like Jen is that you can experiment with ideas you normally wouldn't dare to try. Like climbing WAAAAAY up to the top of that tree.


Since she was so high up in the tree, we put the Cheetahstand CL360 and beauty dish back onto the painters pole and had Luke hold it as high up as he could to get the light on an even height with the model.

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/125@f4

We then headed over to the Japanese garden area of the park to do our Ninja look.


Here we experimented with shooting "day for night" - using a tungsten white balance in camera and underexposing the image to give a feeling of a moonlit night.  The flashes were gelled with MagMod CTO gels.

For these images we went with a different style of treatment in Adobe Lightroom for more of a "300" or "Ultimate Fighter" kind of look.

Sony a6000 Sony 70-200mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/160@f4

This ninja weapon is called a kyoketsu shoge, and has a long rope with a metal ring on the end which is used to ensnare an opponent.  To simulate her actually using it in combat, the metal ring was held next to the camera as the shot was taken.  This had the added effect of creating a leading line to the subject.

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/160@f4

I've had these martial arts weapons for years and have always wanted to incorporate them into photoshoots.  Jen is one of the few models that had the physique that matched the look I wanted for these.

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One of the things I noticed after the shoot was that the kanji on her headband was upside down so I had to fix it in post.

Details, I gotta remember to think about the details DURING the shoot.

For sunset we headed out to Makena Cove beach.  Lucky for us there were no weddings that day, so we were able to move around the beach a lot to get different settings. We cycled through several different sets of Wicked Weasel bikinis for these beach shots.



Since the sun was still a bit high in the sky when we got there, we started out by using the California Sunbounce reflector as fill.


We also turned it around and used it to block the harsh sunlight for a softer look for some of the shots.

Sony a6000 Sony 70-200mm f4 G OSS iso 250 1/200@f4

Around sunset we switched to using the Cheetahstand CL360 in a QWBD White collapsible Beauty Dish.  I really like the portability and power of the CL360s.  I also found a way to doing hypersync with the Sony cameras so that we can exceed the flash sync speed limitation.  I'll have to remember to do a post about that.

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The light hitting the sand in front of the strobe made the foreground a little hot, so in the future I'll also need to remember to bring some Cinefoil next time to flag off the bottom of the beauty dish.

Sony a6000 Sony 70-200mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/200@f4

Sony a6000 Sony 70-200mm f4 G OSS iso 100 1/160@f4

Sony a6000 Sony 18-105mm f4 G OSS iso 800 .5 sec@f5.6

It was so much fun to work with this team again. Looking forward to our next shoot!

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