Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ninja Warrior on the beach

The female ninja or kunoichi concept is one that I've been trying to develop for a while.  Whenever I find a model that is interested in this, I break out the ninja suit and props and experiment. Recently, I had the chance to shoot this idea with model Rosanna Picardi, whom I worked with while she visited  Kauai late last year.

I had originally planned to photograph her on some lava rocks near a beach house restaurant.  Unfortunately, we were unable to get permission from the restaurant to do the shoot there as it was too close to their property. I guess a sword wielding ninja does kind of distract from the family atmosphere of a restaurant. ;-)

We ended up shooting on the tiny crowded beach nearby.  The sun was going down quickly and we also had a swimsuit look that we needed to complete before our flight back that evening.

Ideally, this would have been shot with a greenscreen in a studio.  Since we had neither at the time, I had the model pose on a rock outcropping high enough that I could position myself slightly below her eye level. This put the clear sky behind her, (nature's version of a chromakey background) which made it much easier to remove in post.  I couldn't get the sky completely behind her as you can see, but I was able to get it behind her hair which is most important.  Hair is really difficult to mask out in Photoshop.

The other elements of the shot I had in mind I took while traveling in Japan this past December.  The roof she is standing on is from a temple that I found while walking through the back streets of Akihabara, the high tech electronics district in Tokyo.  Shot it with a Canon 40D.

Had to walk around the temple grounds a bit before I found the right section of roof that would work.

The mountain in the background is Mount Fuji, which I took from a moving bus while we were going to an onsen in Izu.  This was shot with a Canon Powershot G9.  I try to always keep a camera with me as I never know when I'll come across something I can use for a background or element in Photoshop.

The moon and smoke elements are from stock images I already had on file.  To get the nighttime look, I used a Lightroom preset called PH Bedtime with some minor tweaks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Studio shoot with Mandi and Kat

My second photoshoot this past Saturday was in studio with model Mandi Reanne and makeup artist Kahulani. We were assisted by fellow photographer Allan from Icandy Maui.

I had previously worked with Mandi on a waterfall shoot last year and it was great to have the chance to work with her again.

For this shoot we concentrated mainly on headshots with different makeup looks.
To make the setups go quickly, we had four lights setup in position, turning them off and on as we needed:

Main light -1 Alien Bees AB800 in a beauty dish mounted on a C-stand above and slightly right of center.

Rim lights - 2 AB800s in small strip softboxes behind the model at 45 degrees to either side

Background light - 1 AB800 with a background shovel reflector.

Reflector - silver California Sunbounce micro mini on small light stand in front.

Control of each light was with an Alien Bees LG4X Four-Channel Wired Remote Control.  This made it easier than running around to each light and adjusting the power on each one.

The big white panels in the photo above are styrofoam sheets from Home Depot joined together with gaffer's tape to form V-panels.  Initially we set them up intending to bounce light into them, but we ended up mainly using them to help flag the rimlights from flaring into the camera.

The first setup used just the beauty dish light.  We turned off the other three lights and moved in a black curtain behind the model. We hung black duvetyne fabric from a C-stand and positioned it very close to Mandi, just out of the frame to help deepen the shadows.

Canon 5D iso100 70-200mm 2.8L lens 1/160 @ f11

For the second setup, we turned on the two rimlights.  When we were testing, Allan came up with the idea to gel the lights.  We looked through our gels and found 2 Roscoe #15 Deep Straw gels.  Allan and I attached them to the strip softboxes and did some more tweaking of the lights.  To help intensify the effect, we took out the main baffle of each strip box and left just the inner baffle in place.

The lighting and gels worked really well with Kat's makeup work for the second look.

 Canon 5D iso100 70-200mm 2.8L lens 1/160 @ f11

Something I found out about my 5D when we were testing the lights - even though the 5D's flash sync speed is rated at 1/200,  the actual sync speed limit is 1/160.

While shooting this second look, we accidentally stumbled upon another lighting setup when I adjusted the position of the main light. It unplugged itself when I moved it and on the next image, only the rear rimlights fired.  Because of Allan's gels on the rimlights, the silhouette effect was pretty cool.

Canon 5D iso100 70-200mm 2.8L lens 1/160 @ f11

We played around with this setup, doing both silhouettes and fully lit headshots until we got what we wanted.

For our last lighting setup, we removed the black curtain, turned on all 4 AB800s, took off the gels from the rimlights and replaced the baffles.

 Canon 5D iso100 70-200mm 2.8L lens 1/160 @ f11

We put the black duvetyne next to her for slight shadow on her cheek and brought in the silver Sunbounce reflector in very low to soften the chin shadow.

We wrapped pretty late on this shoot, I think around 8 or 9 pm, but we got some great shots out of it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shooting with two models in Lahaina

My friend TJ contacted me to do a shoot on Maui with her and her friend Rosemarie the weekend after I arrived back from Japan. I was (still am) recovering from massive jetlag, but since TJ is one of my favorite models to work with, I agreed to do it.

They were staying at a beach house in Lahaina owned by Christian Riese Lassen, who was kind enough to give us permission to do the photo session there.  My jaw dropped when I got there Saturday morning, as it was one of those locations I've always wanted to see.  It was the kind of place you could spend days at and never run out of things to shoot.  There was even an infinity pool which has been one of the things I've always wanted to shoot, but had to pass on that due to time and equipment restraints (I also had a studio shoot booked that afternoon on the other side of the island).

 Canon 5D 85mm 1.8 1/30 @ f4

First setup was in the garden. We started at about 8am, so the sun was just coming in through the trees. I shot a few headshots with the 85mm lens, with TJ holding a silver California Sunbounce micro mini reflector in front of her for a little fill.

There was a big statue in the garden that TJ wanted to incorporate into a shot.  She changed outfits and we started shooting with the statue.  The natural light was pretty nice all around so we worked with just that for while - no flash, no reflector.

Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/50 @ f4

Wanted to get a little bokeh off of the sunlight hitting the trees in the background so I used a 70-200mm lens mounted on a Really Right Stuff BH40 Ballhead and a Manfrotto 190CX tripod.  Think I was on Aperture Priority mode at the time.

Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/80 @ f4

For Rosemarie, I changed up the lighting a little.  I setup a white shoot thru umbrella with a 580EX flash and a Radiopopper trigger to add a little light to the front.  I also added a second 580EX and Radiopopper trigger on the ground behind her to add a little rim light.

 Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/80 @ f4

We then moved to a shaded spot near the front bamboo gate.  There was some light being reflected into the shadowed area from a large white truck parked nearby.  I setup the silver California Sunbounce micro mini reflector on a lightstand and positioned it next to the truck to boost the light going into the spot we were shooting in.

Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/60 @ f5.6

We then moved to the infinity pool.  I originally wanted to try getting low enough to make the pool seem to extend into the ocean, but because of the terrain, the only way I would have been able to do that would have been to partially submerge the camera and lens, and I didn't have a waterproof housing with me.

So I decided to shoot it a different way - by trying to overpower the sun. I setup a WL1600 in a large softbox to camera right and the silver sunbounce reflector on the left.  I had TJ spray herself with olive oil cooking spray to give her skin a nice sheen.

Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/200 @ f16

After we did a few shots here, I walked around the pool to see what else I could shoot without getting into the water.  On the far side of the pool, I found I could shoot at the very edge where the water flowed over.  I positioned Rosemarie on the other side of the pool, using natural light and the silver micro mini Sunbounce to add a little fill light.  The sunlight hitting her hair and rimlighting her was a happy accident.

Canon 1DmkII  70-200mm 2.8L 1/250 @ f8

At this point I had switched to the 1DmkII as it had a slightly tighter crop factor which was useful since I was shooting across the length of the pool. (Plus my 5d batteries were starting to die on me as well).

One of the last shots we did was both TJ and Rosemarie together. 

Canon 5D 70-200mm 2.8L 1/250 @ f8

This was a really fun shoot and was over far too quickly.  I would be curious to see how a night shoot at this location would work, maybe with the pool lit up with different colored lights.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

First video uploaded to Vimeo

Finally got around to setting up an account on Vimeo and uploaded one of my favorites.  This is the wedding highlight video I did for my friends Joanne and Kevin, who got married in April 2008 on Maui.

Joanne & Kevin Wedding Highlights from Todd Mizomi on Vimeo.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Shaking things up in Shibuya

The second photoshoot I had in Japan this month was an outdoor shoot with model Noriko Komiya, whom I met through Model Mayhem.

For this shoot we started by meeting at 8:30 am at the Hachiko exit of Shibuya station, which is normally a very crowded area.  Since most of the stores did not open until 10 am, we were able to get a lot done without having to worry about too many people around. As it was though, we did end up drawing a lot of attention. ;-)

Noriko was escorted by her boyfriend Nestor, who was a huge help to us on the shoot.  He's originally from Oahu, and now works as a bodyguard in Japan.  He helped us with everything - holding lights, coming up with ideas for poses, crowd control, gun props and weapons training - this guy did it all.  I wish every model had an escort like Nestor. :-)  We were also assisted by Noriko's friend Eriko, an up and coming model that I hope to work with in the near future.

For our first idea, I wanted to do a fashion in the city shot, inspired by an image I saw on Noriko's list of ideas she was interested in.

Around this time of year in Japan, the sun doesn't get very high in the sky, and when I scouted the location before I met up with the crew, I noticed the sun was hitting the buildings, but not the street where we would be shooting.  This was a bit of a challenge, so I decided to shoot from a low angle to minimize the amount of road in the shot.  For lighting I setup an SB 26 with a Pocket Wizard in a white shoot thru umbrella on a lightstand.  I had Nestor hold this and also another SB26 to double up the light.

Getting the shot required repeatedly standing on the corner waiting for the crossing light to change, running out into the middle of the street, firing off a few shots while dodging the people in the crosswalk, then getting back to the corner before we got run over.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

The next setup was a headshot, and I got the idea when Noriko put on her coat and hood.  Since I already had the umbrella lighting setup from the first shot, I positioned Noriko as close to the umbrella as I could and had Nestor hold a silver California Sunbounce micro mini under the umbrella.  Because she was now very close to the light source, I was able to easily overpower the sun and turn the background almost completely black.  In essence, we did a studio headshot in the middle of a busy streetcorner.

Our next setup was next to a green train car that had been converted to a museum. Noriko changed outfits and we setup the umbrella next to the front of the train car.  I added another SB26 on a lightstand with a 3/4 CTO gel to act as a backlight. I had Eriko hold another SB 26 firing into the umbrella to increase the main light. (One of these days I really need to find a dual hotshoe adapter for my lightstand)

Noriko got into position and I had Nestor use the Sunbounce panel as a fan to add motion to Noriko's hair and shirt.  The crowd around us started getting bigger so it took us a while to get this shot.

The smoke was added in post, because we were shooting this in full view of the nearest koban (police office) and didn't want to alarm them by starting a fire ;-).  (We were already pushing it with the use of gun props).

We then switched locations to Shinjuku, where we ended up shooting in front of the Governer's building.

I changed the umbrella out for the Lastolite Ezybox hotshoe. We then had Noriko climb up to the ledge (which was very brave of her - behind this wall is a drop of several stories) and started doing our "Dark Angel" series of images.

I added a 1/4 CTO gel to the main light to warm it up a little and kind of give the impression of sunset, since the sun was behind the buildings and not hitting our location at all.  Eriko held up the other SB 26 with a 3/4 CTO gel behind Noriko to give us some separation.

This last one I wanted to experiment with changing a daylight scene to night, so I adjusted the white balance to tungsten in Lightroom and added a few things to complete the scene.

This was a very fun shoot and I made some new friends in the process.  A great way to end the year.