Category Archives: PortraitX

"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model

Fantasy photo shoot – Pandora’s Box

Fantasy photo shoot with PortraitX and Yollanda Musa

This was a fantasy photo shoot shot under the auspices of PortraitX. The aim was to shoot on location and capture the theme “Pandora’s Box”, with total freedom to re-interpret that story. So, with apologies to the ancient Greeks, this is my own personal version of the story of Pandora’s box.

Pandora’s Box

Once upon a time, there was a very beautiful young princess named Pandora. She had an uncle who was a powerful magician. He was feared by the people and it was rumoured he had a box that contained devastation. But he loved Pandora, and she loved him.

It came to pass that Pandora’s uncle died, and one day Pandora found herself in his quarters, admiring all the curious and strange artefacts.

One in particular drew her eye; it was a beautiful small box. It fascinated Pandora, so she took it into the castle grounds.

“Surely this box can’t contain anything terrible”, she said to herself. “It is so small, and so beautiful!”

Filled with curiousity, she opened the lid… just a fraction. She peered in, and felt a strange floating sensation, and a feeling of intoxication. She was captivated by a mystical green light, compelling her to open the box fully.

Darkness jumped out and time itself became a chaotic blur…

"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model

"Pandora's Box" fantasy photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, Yollanda Musa model

Darkness jumped out and time itself became a chaotic blur…

Photography methods

I used off camera flash with natural daylight. Shooting was a little tricky, because there was a bright sun and many small clouds, and the sun kept going behind the clouds.

When Yollanda was sitting on the tree trunk, the sun was behind her (at about 10’o’clock if the camera is at 6’o’clock) and she was illuminated from the right (her front) using a portable flash. This was a 600W battery powered head fitted with a soft box.

The green light shining out from the box was accomplished using two speedlights with green filters. I found that a single speedlight was not sufficient. I also took Yollanda as deep under the weeping willow tree as I could, so the ambient light was as low as possible. The important thing to know when you use coloured filters, is that the brighter the flash, the less it is coloured by the filter. (This is not intuitive until you think about it, then it makes perfect sense). So I used two speedlights, both set at minimum power output, triggered wirelessly using a radio transmitter.

As always when using flash, you are effectively superimposing two exposures in one image; one is the image that is recorded by the ambient light, and the other is the image recorded from the flash. One image. Two superimposed exposures to give a final net exposure. The flash exposure is dictated by the power from the flash and the aperture. The ambient exposure is dictated by the aperture and the shutter speed (both are also affected by the ISO obviously).

Shooting “Darkness”

In the story, when the character “Darkness”  jumps out of the box, I wanted a long exposure in order to show movement, but I also wanted the scene to appear darker overall. The camera was mounted on a tripod to keep it still, and the flash was set to “rear sync”. That means the flash fired at the end of the exposure, not at the beginning. We had to practice quite a bit to get it right, and technically it was quite challenging.

Firstly I had to find an exposure that was long enough to fit in all the action. The image here was exposed for 1.3 seconds! That gives Marcus (who played “Darkness”) enough time to be recorded at his starting position, and then move to his final position before the flash fires. In between he appears as a blur.

But it was a very bright day, so how was I going to avoid overexposing the image? The answer was to use an aperture of F22 plus a 3 stop ND (neutral density) filter. A 3 stop filter reduces the amount of light getting through by 3 stops, that is to say it blocks 7/8 of the light getting through.

So far so good. But could I get the flash bright enough to capture an image at F22 with a 3 stop filter? That is to say, the amount of light has to be sufficient for whatever is 3 stops brighter than F22! I just managed to get away with it, using two 600W flash heads, both fitted with small reflector dishes, and both as close to Marcus’s final position as I could get them. They are just out of shot to the right.

Poor old Marcus, not only did he have to do his leaping and grimacing until we got it right, he also had to look in the direction of 1200W of light flashing in his eyes! But he did an amazing job.

I also like the effect that a 1.3 second exposure has on the smoke, and it was this that suggested that time itself became blurred and chaotic with Darkness jumps out of the box, as stated in the storyline.

Akcnowledgements

Models: Yollanda Musa and Marcus Phoenix Godfrey
Make up: Shahida MUA
Styling: Akasha Asylum

Ian Trayner, fashion shoot, release the Kraken

Fashion photo shoot “release the Kraken”

I want to share some images I captured at a recent fashion photo shoot. The shoot was organised by PortraitX, and it involved something like 4 make up artists, 12 models and 16 photographers!

Fashion photo shoot on the south coast

As you can see in my photos, we were blessed with good weather. It was a beautiful warm day, and the sky was a superb deep blue with variable cloud cover. Sometimes there were “very expressive” whispy clouds, which added to the images. A healthy wind was blowing, which was very pleasant because it was a hot day. However the wind played merry jingo with the models’ hair!

It was a superb day for me, and I came away with a healthy set of images. I will probably share more of them in future blog posts.

Selected photographs

One of my main aims was to capture an image of a mermaid being dragged from the sea in a net. The lovely Caitlin Barnes-Davis was the mermaid, and she was caught by “The God of the Sea”, played by Marcus Godfrey.

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Photography methods:

Fashion photo shoots organised by PortraitX are always an opportunity, and a challenge. A huge amount of organisation goes into these shoots, but once on location, it is up to the photographers to think on their feet. We may have some ideas up our sleeves, but we have to adapt to local conditions to put them into practice.

Using only natural light:

My photos of Marcus and Akasha (the Kraken) were taken using only natural light, and you can see how I used the sunlight to my advantage. Even in a beautiful setting like this, I believe the direction and quality of the light is the most important factor to consider. I used a polarising filter to increase colour saturation in general, and of the sky in particular. I also added a bit of “clarity” in post production to make the clouds stand out more.

Supplementing natural light with flash:

I added a touch of flash to the portraits of Caitlin and Isabella sitting on the rocks.  The sun is coming at them from behind, over their left shoulders, and I wanted to bring more light into their faces. But I also wanted to retain a fairly natural look, so I used a soft box, and I adjusted the brightness to give a gentle and natural effect.

I used a much “harder” flash, with a small reflector dish, to throw extra light on Caitlin when she was struggling in the fishing net. This is because she is the main feature in those photos, and I wanted to draw the eyes to Caitlin. As always, the direction of the light is critical. I also used Marcus’s arm and the line of the net to help draw the eye to the stricken mermaid. The sea and the distant rocks provide lines that draw the eye towards Caitlin, but I did have to be careful that the horizon didn’t go through her face any higher than it is.

In the close up photo of Caitlin struggling in the fishing net, I lengthened her canine teeth in post production. I also overlaid scales from a rainbow trout on her skin. It seems a shame to transform this beauty into a scaly demon-like creature, but “so it goes”!

Acknowledgements:

People who contributed to this set of images from this fashion photo shoot are;

Caitlin Barnes-Davis is our beautiful mermaid. Her make up was done by Samantha Beck. And the mermaid costume was made and supplied by Lunas Creations.

I have included a “behind the scenes” photo of Caitlin with Isabella Aurora Branco, who was cast as a baby mermaid. Isabella’s make up was done by Bryanna Angel Allen.

Akasha Asylum is the Kraken. The Kraken costume designed and made by Lunas Creations.

Marcus Godfrey is the “God of the Sea”.
His extremely impressive make up (or should that be “special effects”) were done by Katie Johnson.