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.