Category Archives: Portraits

Smoke and Lights

cool composite photo. The boy was photographed in my studio and the football stadium was added later.

Adding a bit of jazz to a photoshoot using smoke and lights

Sometimes I add some smoke and lights to create really cool shots in my studio.

As a professional family photographer I often ask myself these two questions;

  1. What can I do that is new to my clients? I don’t mean something that has never been done photographically before; I mean something that my clients haven’t come across before – and their friends probably haven’t either.
  2. How can I make my photo shoots more enjoyable? Some people love being in photo shoots and will be happy with anything. But some people hate photo shoots (you know who you are). So my question is how can I make my photo shoots enjoyable, or at least interesting, for everyone?

Today I am writing about using smoke and lights to create cool images that are dramatic and unusual. They are also a lot of fun to make!

Mother and son photo shoot

I am primarily a family photographer, and recently a mother brought her 10 year old son to my studio for a photo shoot.

As is so often the case neither really knew what to expect, and both felt a bit self conscious in front of the camera to start with. However before long we all felt relaxed as we joked about, and snapped away. We started to enjoy ourselves.

I love photo shoots when there is a strong loving relationship between the various family members. And on this photo shoot, once we had larked about a bit and my clients felt relaxed, that warmth between them started appearing in the photos.

I started by photographing them separately and together in a conventional high key style (ie white background). Then I changed to a dark background for more photos.

After a bit of this we reached the “treat point”; the smoke machine came out, I re-arranged my lights, and we really started having some fun!

cool photo of boy taken in my studio
Simple and clean. The smoke has largely dissipated to leave a thin mist.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio, using smoke and lights from behind.
Two speedlights provide lighting from behind. I have removed the light stands in Photoshop.
Cool photo of boy taken in the studio using a smoke machine to generate smoke, and using rear lighting
An advantage of using a camera with lots of pixels is that you can do tight crops and still have enough pixels to make large prints.
Cool photo of boy with smoke and lights from behind. He is showing some attitude.
Attitude.
very cool photo of boy showing lots of attitude!
More attitude!

In my experience pretty well everybody likes the drama that is created by rear lighting and smoke, and children in particular love it. One of the joys of living in the age of digital cameras is that you can give your clients a preview of the photos on the back of the camera. When they see the quality of the photos that are being captured, this provides positive feedback so they enjoy the photo shoot even more.

When shooting like this the photographer has options for what to leave in, and what to remove from the final edit. For example it might seem appropriate to leave the lights but remove their stands, to remove everything including the lights, or leave everything in the photo. It just depends on the artistic effect you want to create.

The smoke is a bit blue and this is what gives these photos a blue feel. But what happens if we add some red gels to the rear lights?

cool photo of boy using smoke and lights with red gels
Red gels over the lights. I made the lights themselves invisible in Photoshop.
photo of boy - cool use of smoke and lights with red gels
A tighter crop.

Compositing into a football stadium

While we were shooting I discovered the boy loves football. So while I was shooting him, and without telling him so it would come as a total surprise, I decided to put him in a football stadium!

photo of boy in tracksuit with cool backlighting
Two speedlights behind the model. I have removed the stands.

When a photographer creates a picture that is composed of two or more different photos it is called a composite. It is important that the photo taken in the studio matches the new background. In particular the lighting has to be consistent. I had this in mind when I was pressing the shutter. One also has to check that the angle of view and perspective match reasonably well. In this example I also had to make some small changes to variables like brightness, contrast, colour temperature and saturation.

Composite photo showing the boy in a football stadium.
I have removed the speedlights and replaced the background with a photo of a football stadium.

If you want to check out a master of cool composite photography have a look at the work of Joel Grimes.

And click this link if you want to see how much fun kids can have with a bubble photo shoot experience.

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beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa in black and white

10 reasons I love working with Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa is a young model based in Hertfordshire. I was lucky enough to meet Yolly several years ago at at PortraitX photo shoot, and we have worked together several times. I jokingly say she is my “photographic Muse, er…”

Very funny, what.

I am going to put down in black and white 10 reasons why I love shooting Yollanda.

1. This is a soft look. Yollanda’s hair has been tied in a traditional style by Cheynie Majik Fingas.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

2. One of the things I love about photographing people is that very small changes create different images. They show the same thing slightly differently. And then we interpret what we see. Usually quite unconsiously.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

3. A simple elegant profile.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

4.
beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

5. Now Yolly has been given a new hair style and stronger make up (by @paintedbyrupz). She was wearing her puffer jacket for warmth when not in front of the camera, and I decided to include the jacket for some shots. So here she is with the jacket and a subtle smile…beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

6. And here she is without the jacket looking serious.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

7.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

8.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

9.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

10. Well toned body! Just right for athletic modelling.beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

11. Yes… I figured it would be hard keeping the number of reasons to just ten!beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

beauty photo shoot in Kingston with Yollanda Musa

The creative team

I can recommend the model, the make up artist and the hair stylist for professional work.

The model is Yollanda Musa.

The hair stylist was Cheynie Majik Fingas.

Eyelashes were by lolo lashes whom I have not met (the lashes were done earlier). But I did notice how good they are without anyone having to point them out to me! Whatever magic this is, it looks like Yolly’s own eyelashes, as opposed to large lashes above natural lashes, which sometimes gives me problems in post production. These lashes were perfect.

Make up was by Rupam Patel @paintedbyrupz. Rupam will have every right to throttle me if I don’t include a colour photo that shows the quality of her work!

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actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

Peter Revel Walsh – actor head shots and portraits

Peter Revel Walsh is a character actor, model and voice over artist with over 20 years experience in the industry. He came to my studio in Kingston upon Thames for some actor head shots and portraits.

I think everyone will agree Peter has a very distinctive look!

My primary aim was to capture some great actor head shots. My secondary aim was to capture a range of “more interesting portraits”. I wanted to take advantage of a variety of lighting styles to either “smooth” Peter’s look to make him more cuddly, or to make him look “less civilised”. We even used a wind machine.actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames actor Peter Revel Walsh photographed in my studio in Kingston upon Thames

 

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actor head shot for Kevin Mangar

Actor Head Shots for Kevin Mangar

Actor head shots for character and variety

Kevin Mangar asked me to take some actor head shots (and also some other photos, but I will talk about those another day).  Some of the resulting images are conventional actor head shots, while others are more “portraits”.

Kevin Mangar often lands roles as villains. Do you think he looks the part?

Well do you, punk?

Curiously, immediately after writing the above sentence I googled “Kevin Mangar” and discovered he played a character called “Eastwood” in the film The Take Down.  What an extraordinary co-incidence! (For people who don’t know “well do you punk” is an iconic line spoken by Harry Callaghan, played by Clint Eastwood in his “Dirty Harry” movies. Look at this clip and then this clip).

According to film buff website IMDb Kevin Mangar is also known for roles in Spider Man 2: Another World and Redcon-1.

What is an “actor head shot”?

Actor head shots are intended to give casting directors an idea of what an actor or actress looks like. However Kevin and I didn’t want to just limit ourselves to conventional actor head shots. So Kevin played some roles, and I fiddled with my lights.

Lighting for head shots and portraits

One light

Here are five “head shots”. In the first, I lit Kevin’s head with a single key light located directly above the camera’s line of sight. You can see the reflection of the key light in Kevin’s eyes. The flash was modified by a gridded white beauty dish. Just the one light (technically this kind of lighting is called “butterfly lighting” because the shadow beneath the nose might look a bit like a butterfly. Allegedly.

very simple actor head shot

Three lights

In the next photo the key light is exactly the same, but I have added two additional lights, one on each side of Kevin’s head.  The photographer has to be quite careful where s/he places these lights in order to create the desired effect. I was using two tall slim soft boxes fitted with grids.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Two lights

Kevin’s third “head shot” shows what happens when the key light is turned off, and the two lights on either side are on. This isn’t really an “actor head shot” at all, because you can’t see the detail of Kevin’s face. But the image makes a very atmospheric portrait nevertheless. I think you will agree this lighting creates a sinister mood? So, not really an “actor head shot” but definitely a “portrait”.

sinister portrait of actor Kevin Mangar

Two different lights

For the fourth head shot in this series I moved the key light to one side, a bit higher than Kevin’s head. It is still modified using the same white gridded beauty dish. I have also moved one of the tall gridded softboxes further back behind Kevin, and brought it’s brightness down. These are the only two lights on Kevin in this photo.

Actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

Three lights

Next I threw some light onto the black background, making it grey. The purpose of this is to make Kevin’s outline more visible. I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” picture.

actor head shot of actor Kevin Mangar

I call this Kevin’s “Patrick Stewart” photo. I assume both actors will find this flattering…

A softer look

As I wrote above, Kevin Mangar often gets typecast as villains. He does a “hard man look” very well. But why don’t we bring out his softer side too?

Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot Kevin Mangar - actor head shot

Photoshop post production

Just in case anyone is interested;

Photoshop editing was kept to a minimum.  I made a small number of global adjustments to  basic variables like colour balance, the tone curve, clarity, and maybe one or two other of the sliders that adjust the entire image. I also did a very small amount of eye brightening – very subtle. Otherwise Kevin’s head shots and portraits are as the camera captured them.

Acknowledgement

I thank Kevin Mangar for asking me to take these actor head shots, portraits and other photos (I may write about some of the others later).

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Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Commercial swimwear photo shoot

Swimwear photo shoot – Afrokini bikini

Our model for this swimwear photo shoot is the beautiful black model Yollanda Musa. She is wearing the “Gugu” style bikini made by swimwear brand “Afrokini“. Afrokini uses African-inspired colours and designs in it’s swimsuits. Hence it was very appropriate to use a black model for this swimwear photo shoot. I have worked with Yollanda Musa several times, and we have a very good professional working relationship.

Make up colour coordination

Make up was by Chesmi Rodrigo. We decided to coordinate the colour of Yollanda’s make up with the mauve colour on her bikini.Make up by Chesmi Rodrigo, photography by Ian Trayner in Kingston, model is Yollanda Musa

Bikini photo shoot for catalogue and promotion

This swimwear photo shoot was done in my studio in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. The aim was to start by taking fairly “standard” catalogue photographs of a beautiful black model wearing the bikini. And once we had these photos “in the bag”, to capture some more dramatic photographs for promotional purposes.

Shooting a black model in a bikini against a “white” background

I wanted to start by taking fairly standard catalogue style photos against a white background.  However Afrokini already has photos of a model wearing this bikini against a bright white background, and I did not want to repeat those. Therefore, although I used a plain white background in my studio, it appears darker because I did not shine light directly on it. When you use a white background in a photo studio, the degree of darkening is readily controlled by how much light you shine on it in the studio. The darkness of the white background can also be adjusted later in post production, ie on the computer using Photoshop. As a matter of fact I have increased the vignetting in the first photograph below in Photoshop.Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

How to use light to flatter the female body

I wanted to light my model in a way that is flattering to her body. Yollanda Musa is blessed with a very beautiful body (and face), and I wanted to really show her off. This is something I would naturally do with any client (commercial or private) who hires me for a beauty photo shoot, or a model experience photo shoot.

One of my specialities is lighting the human form to make it look good.

Notice how I have emphasised the beauty of Yollanda’s body by creating highlights and shadows that show her natural three dimensional shape.

Lighting with studio flash

For these first “black model in a bikini” photos (against the white background) I used two studio flash units;

The main (key) light was provided by a gridded soft box to the left of Yollanda (as you look at her) and slightly above her head height. I wanted the light source to be slightly higher than Yollanda’s head, but I also wanted it to shine into her eyes. As a general rule, you want a model’s eyes to be well lit for beauty photography.  Yollanda’s eyes are clearly visible, with a bright highlight. Notice how the highlights and shadows from this key light flatter Yollanda’s body. The soft box was relatively small, and was fitted with a grid. Thus the light is relatively directional. This also avoids excessive spill of light onto the white background.

The second light was a studio flash fitted with a tall gridded soft box. It was positioned behind Yollanda and to the right (as you look at the model). Notice how this helps to further enhance the “three dimensional quality” of Yollanda’s body. It gives a subtle silky sheen to her skin where it reflects off. In the photo above it also provides a slim rim light on her elbow that helps to separate Yollanda’s body from the background.

High heels help with the model’s posture

High heeled shoes are usually flattering – I think we all know this. But it isn’t just at the level of the feet – high heels change the overall posture, weight distribution, and muscular tension in  ways that are flattering. (I am not recommending high heels for any other purpose!)

But we don’t want the shoes to distract the eye away from the clothes

In the full length photo below, notice how Yollanda’s high heels do not distract the eye from the more important parts of the photo. In fact Yollanda’s shoes are almost invisible. From the point of view of the designer, the most important parts of the photo are those that show the clothes. In this case the model’s bikini.

If Yollanda’s shoes were black they would attract the eye (because of the extra contrast against the pale background). If her shoes were white they would look OK against a pale background, but they might be distracting to the eye if we had selected a dark background.

There isn’t a “right” or “wrong” about this. It is a matter of what is appropriate. But overall,  transparent high heels are “a good thing” from the point of view of photographic safety, and versatility.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

The power of dramatic lighting in a bikini photo shoot

Once we had a set of “safe” catalogue shots of our bikini in the bag, we wanted to capture some images that were a bit more dramatic for our swimwear photo shoot.

I decided to create images with a relatively high contrast, using dramatic rear lighting and strong colours. I decided to use “cold” blue and green coloured lights with a pale wig to give an “ice” effect. And I decided to use red lights and a black wig for a “fire” effect.

“Fire and ice” bikini images

“Ice” bikini photos

The key light on Yollanda is provided by a 21 inch beauty dish fitted with a grid. This is one of my favourite lighting modifiers. The key light is white, so as not to change the colours of the bikini – at least the top part.

Yollanda is lit from behind using three speedlights. Two are firing through blue gels, and one is firing through a green gel. I love what the coloured lights do to Yollanda’s hair against the black background, and I love the blue and green rim lights on her body. These help show off the curves of her profile. I have written about using coloured gels with flash photography in a previous blog post.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

 

Adding coloured mist to our bikini photos

I wanted to add more drama to our swimear photo shoot. I did this by using a water spray to catch and diffuse the coloured lights behind Yollanda.

This is very easy to do. All you need is a cheap spray bottle (such as you use for misting plants) and a means of co-ordinating the spray with firing the camera. I used a remote trigger to fire my camera, and sprayed the spray myself. But you can use an assistant to do the spray if you have one (and don’t have a remote camera trigger). Obviously you need a tripod or other stable support for your camera if the photographer has to do the spraying himself (or herself).

It is important to make sure you don’t spray your lights! If you are short of space you can put clear plastic bags over your flash units.

The water spray settles quite quickly with gravity, so you need to coordinate the spraying and shooting. You will find every shot is different from the one before, and you can play around for a while capturing images that are slightly different from each other. You will find some work much better than others.

If you go on for a while you can end up with a bottle worth of water on the studio floor too (I have a plastic paddling pool I use for catching the water).

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

“Fire” bikini photos

To photograph Yollanda “on fire” I used red gels on the speedlights behind her. These give the curves of her body a lovely red rim light. I added the flames on the computer in post production.

Beautiful black model Yollanda Musa wearing bikini "Gugu" from Afrokini. Commercial swimwear photo shoot. Photograph by Ian Trayner in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Accreditation for this swimwear photo shoot

Model: Yollanda Musa (she has a website coming soon I am told)
Make up: Chesmi Rodrigo
Swimsuit: Afrokini (On the website is says their swimwear is “waterproof”. I guess that is true, but it made me chuckle).

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photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photographer is Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey

Photo shoot for make up artist, Alice Edwards

Photo shoot for make up artist (MUA)

Make up artists (MUAs) need good professional portfolios to showcase their work. This post is about a photo shoot I did for a local make up artist, Alice Edwards.

Alice is a freelance make up artist with 2 years of commercial experience. Currently she is studying for a Bachelors Degree in Production Arts Hair and Make Up at Kingston College, in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Alice asked me to take photographs to document a specific make up look she was doing for a college assessment. I have worked with Alice before, and was happy to oblige. My photographs provide a record of her work, and will be included in her professional make up artist portfolio.

I am only including a few of my photographs from this photo shoot in this blog post.

Alice arranged for model Gina Godfrey to help by providing her face.

Alice and I have both worked with Gina before, so we knew we were getting a model who is reliable. In my opinion “reliability” is one of the most important skills a model can possess.

Gina is also blessed with very good skin, and beautiful eyes. So I sort of think Alice was stacking the odds in her favour!

I wanted to provide photographic variety

Taking photographs for the make up artist

My main priority was to make a high quality record of Alice’s skill as a make up artist, that she could use in her portfolio. We would only be taking head shots, so we didn’t have to think about using other props, and a plain background would be suitable.

I needed to photograph the make up in detail, so I had to light my model, Gina, accordingly.

Taking photographs for Gina’s modelling portfolio

But I also wanted to provide some photographic variety for Gina’s modelling portfolio. We wouldn’t have time to make major changes to lighting or location, so I set up some lights that would provide adaptability.

Travelling light (weight) with minimal kit

I also wanted to travel light, so may main kit consisted of two speedlights, a couple of lighting modifiers from Damian McGillicuddy, and the Olympus EM-1 mark2 camera fitted with a 45mm F1.8 lens. Because the Olympus has a micro four thirds chip, a 45mm lens is the equivalent of a 90mm lens on a camera that has a full frame sensor (such as my Nikons). In other words, this prime lens is an ideal lens for flattering portraits. It is also extremely sharp. Incidentally, this is the sharpest lens I have ever used… and Olympus has just brought out a new, better,  45mm F1.2 prime lens. Which costs nearly 5 times as much. Hmmm.

Photographic variety was achieved simply by changing the positions of the lights, and particularly the amount of light cast on the background. The background was a pale grey area of wall. (In fact it was a writing board of some kind I believe). But one can make this appear totally white if it is brightly lit. All the photos I took used the same background. The background appears to be darker in some images because I was controlling how much light fell on it.

setting up the lighting for the background

 

I used a 21 inch DMLS modifier to provide the main (or key) light on the model, Gina Godfrey. You can just see it (in soft box configuration) on the left in the photo.

I also used a foldable Lastolite reflector to empirically control the brightness (and direction) of the fill light. I used a human light stand to hold this (her name is Alice Edwards).

The resulting images (of which only a few are shown here) provide a series of images that show Alice’s make up, and some additional images that are not useful for showing make up, but provide the model,  Gina Godfrey, more variety for her modelling portfolio.

Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey. Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

 

Using Photoshop to give a natural look – detail

I think even the general public is aware that models can be “over photoshopped” so they end up looking, er… “different”, and even unnatural. My personal preference is to retain a natural look that is flattering, while removing temporary blemishes.

You can still see every pore on her skin, and every fine hair on the model’s face. And she still looks gorgeous. Just naturally gorgeous.

As a photographer, I was particularly pleased that you can’t see Gina’s own eyelashes. That is to say they are completely hidden by the artificial eyelashes that Alice has added.

Sometimes, when artificial eyelashes have been added, you can see the model’s own eyelashes underneath. They often don’t look nice, and have to be removed in post production. For example they may be a different colour, and more curly, than the artificial eyelashes. So a second set of eyelashes, which are a different shape and colour from the main eyelashes – well, it doesn’t look good! I am not a make up artist, and I don’t know why sometimes you can see them, and sometimes you can’t. But you usually have to look closely to notice them.

Photo shoot for make up artist Alice Edwards. Model is Gina Godfrey. Photograph by Ian Trayner, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey.

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model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty

Model portfolio photo shoot

Model portfolio photo shoot

Styling for this photo shoot

“Styling” for this model portfolio photo shoot was a collaboration between the model, Yollanda Musa, and make up artist Caroline, from C Walé Hair and Beauty.

Styling

Yollanda writes;

“The outfit was made for me, for the “Miss Pride of Africa UK 2016″ beauty pageant. I wore it for the Nations parade round . I co designed the outfit with a Zimbabwean Designer. I chose colours to represent the Zimbabwean flag colours . So I told the Designer what I wanted and she sketched the idea. I wanted a modern mix in the design so I asked for the ballerina skirt. I then got the hat designed in South Africa – it is a style that is worn by South African women. I combined the different components. Caroline worked well to match the makeup to my outfit”.

Make up

Caroline’s own words;

“The purpose of this model portfolio photo shoot was to have a colourful and vibrant representation of Africa.

“Every piece of the attire had to be eye catching. The hat and jewellery was from South Africa, and were provided by the model.

“This makeup look was about keeping everything calm and going bold blue with the lips with tribal designs. It’s always great to either focus on beautiful intrinsic colours on the eyelids with eyeshadow, or dare to be bright on the lips.

“It’s always important to use primer before applying your foundation to reduce shine.The eyebrows were shaped neatly with a dewey foundation base. To make the eyes pop it’s always a great idea to use beautiful eyelashes.

“Once the makeup was done, the whole look came together when the outfit was worn”.

Photography methods

As Caroline stated above, our aim was to create images that give a “colourful and vibrant representation of Africa”. With this aim in mind, and having seen the clothes, I decided to use a red background. However I did not want the images to be overwhelmed by a bright red background, so I “underlit it” (even a white background will look black if there is no light on it).

Beauty lighting

My next question was; “how do I want to light the model?” Yollanda is blessed with beautiful bone structure and a beautiful face. So naturally I wanted my photos to be “beauty shots”. So I decided, for this model portfolio photo shoot, to use one of my favourite lighting modifiers for “beauty photography”. This is a 550mm beauty dish fitted with a grid, and I used this as the main light source on the model. These modifiers are relatively expensive (mainly because of the grid), but they provide a light source that can be extremely flattering.

I say “can be”, because this type of modifier provides a relatively “hard” light source. That means the shadows have relatively hard edges, with a lot of contrast between “light” and “dark”. While this kind of light can beextremely flattering on slim faces (if positioned properly), it is unlikely to be flattering on round faces.

I just had a look at this beauty dish and it doesn’t have a manufacturer’s name on it. Nor is the manufacturer’s name written on it’s box. However I can say I bought it from Veiwfinder.

White or silver beauty dish?

In general I prefer beauty dishes that have a white reflective surface, as opposed to a silver reflective surface. White surfaces give a “more forgiving” light source in my opinion. Especially if there is any degree of shinyness on a face.

Using coloured gels

Recently I published a blog post about using coloured gels in studio photography. Yollanda’s bright blue lips inspired me to add some blue light for some of her model portfolio photo shoot. In some images I have used a blue light as a fill light. This overlays a subtle “blueness” to her images, making her skin appear a touch “cooler”, and making the shadows a bit blue. You can see this especially in the whites of Yollanda’s eyes, in some of the images.

Later I moved the blue flash to behind Yollanda. So instead of being a blue fill light, it has become a  blue rim light..

The blue light was created by a Nikon SB900 speedlight fitted with a blue gel from HonlPhoto. Read my blog post “using coloured gels with photography” for more information about using coloured gels.

Rim lighting

All the images have a rim light coming from the opposite direction to the main light (ie pointing towards the camera from behind the model). Sometimes the rim light is white, and sometimes it is blue. But it is always there. The purpose of rim light is to separate the model from the background, so you can see the outline of her body.

If you are interested in lighting, watch out for rim lighting on TV, especially on higher budget films. In dark spaces rim lighting is used very effectively, and because our attention is on the “story” rather than on the “lighting”, we probably won’t notice on those occasions when the rim lighting “doesn’t make sense”! In other words, there may not be a natural light source in “the story” to provide that rim lighting! Having said which there often is,for examjple provided by lights on a ceiling.  But in reality they are often lights on boom arms, just out of shot.

Would you like to see all the images from this model portfolio photo shoot?

See all the other images from this model portfolio photo shoot in this gallery.

model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty, blue coloured gel model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty model portfolio photo shoot, Yollanda Musa, African styling, C Walé Hair and Beauty

The creative team for this model portfolio photo shoot

Model: Yollanda Musa

Yollanda Musa is an award winning UK based model. She was awarded a “Women Of Purpose Award” in recognition of her hard work and determination as a model . Yollanda has represented Zimbabwe in pageants. For example “Mr and Miss Black Beauty”, and “Miss Pride of Africa UK”. In the latter she won the title of “Southern Region Princess”. She also won the Sports Award title at “Miss Hertfoshire 2017”.

Yollanda is not just a pretty face; she bravely learnt how to box to raise money for Cancer Research UK. She even won her bout!

Yollanda is 5 feet 2 inches tall. This is not a typical height for models. Nevertheless Yollanda caught the attention of newspapers, such as Hemel Hempstead Gazette and Welywn and Hatfield Times. She has also been published inmagazines such as Effuse, Le Blanc and Secret Eden.

Yollanda’s links;

Visit Yollanda Musa’s blog and learn about her experiences as a petit model, and read her advice to aspiring models.
Get in touch with model Yollanda Musa by emailing yollandamusa@outlook.com
You can also join Yollanda’s network on LinkedIn.

C Walé Hair and Beauty

Find Caroline on facebook here: C Walé Hair and Beauty

 

 

 

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using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

Coloured Gels in Studio Photography

Using coloured gels in photography

Coloured gels can be used in a number of ways in photography. “Gels” are thin sheets of coloured plastic that go in front of light sources to change the colour. They are used with flash and continuous light sources. Make sure gels are secured firmly, and check they are not going to melt and burn if you use hot lights!

In this post I hope to demonstrate the following;

  • Coloured gels can be used to change the colour of any object in an image. I guess this is obvious, but I want to draw attention to the fact you can change the colour of your subject, the background, or any other material elements in the image (for example smoke).
  • Coloured gels can be used to make effects that are dramatic or extremely subtle.
  • Coloured gels can be used to separate a subject from it’s background.

Using coloured gels to add drama in photo shoot

I have used some of these images (but in black and white versions, not colour) in a previous blog post. I always intended to write a post about using coloured gels, and these are good examples.

Adding a splash of colour

My model is Clarissa Holder. The key light in the next image was provided by a studio flash in a soft box, without a gel (ie it was white light).

I also added a light with a coloured gel from behind. This served two purposes. One was to show the shape of Clarissa’s head and separate her head from the background, and the other was the “artisti” decision to add colour.

Do not be confused by the colour of Clarissa’s translucent cap. It was in fact the colour it appears to be in this image. In fact I chose to use the specific coloured gels I did, specifically so they would be consistent with the colours of Clarissa’s clothes and props.

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

Coloured gels for more drama

I am not suggesting photographers use coloured gels all the time; they are just one of the tools in our arsenal.

If you look at the following image, you will see I have removed the white key light. Now the blue and magenta of the coloured gels dominate the images. Clarissa is illuminated by a blue light on the left, and a red light from the right (our left and right, as we look at the image). Both lights also shine on the background, which is a roll of black paper. It is worth noting that when you shine a blue light on brown skin, it appears reddish.

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

 

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

You can use gels to change the colour of smoke

If you want to add colour to your smoke, it is most efficient to backlight the smoke (ie put the light source on the far side of the smoke, and point it towards the camera).

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

Using coloured gels in a more subtle way

In the next portrait of Clarissa, I have added quite a subtle red fill light. It was a simple speedlight with a red gel. The effect is to subtly enrich the colour of Clarissa’s skin, making it more “exotic”. To make the effect less obvious, I removed the small red highlights in Clarissa’s eyes using Photoshop. I also desaturated the image a bit, because the colours were getting a little too vivid for my taste.

The colour balance on the camera was set to “flash”, and a white flash provided the key light to camera left. Another flash with a soft box provides  a soft white light coming from behind the model (to the right as we look at her). This is the light that is responsible for highlighting the beautiful lines of Clarissa’s neck, jaw, collar bone and shoulder. This soft box was angled sp that it also cast light on the background.

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

 

 

Changing to a white background

The background cloth was removed for the next image, and the rear soft box was turned off. The wall is white, but it appears to be slightly coloured due to (a) a red speedlight acting as a fill light (it was located just behind the photographer’s right shoulder) and (b) a flash fitted with a blue gel shining on the wall from the camera left (and behind the model). In fact, if you look carefully you can see the shadow that Clarissa casts from the red fill light, because that area of the wall appears more blue than the rest of the wall. The wall was approximately 2m behind Clarissa’s back. I deliberately turned off the soft white rim lighting from behind Clarissa, because the wall is now pale and even in colour, so a nice dark shadow works very well to separate Clarissa from the background.

You can also see the red fill light reflecting off Clarissa’s “turban”, but once again I have used Photoshop to remove the red highlight in Clarissa’s eyes. You can see the redness on the whites of her eyes though.

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

Using coloured gels for rim lighting

The first and final images in this series show examples of rim lighting helping to separate a subject from the background. The final image (below) shows the creative team (minus photographer). Note the red rimlight coming from the left of the image. It is providing quite a strong red colour, although only over very small visible areas. The rim light was provided by the same speedlight with a red coloured gel that I had used in the last image as a fill light. I just moved it from the front to the rear (I can’t remember if I adjusted the light intensity).

From left to right the team members are make up artist Donna Harris, model Clarissa Holder, and stylist Evelyn Tolu (aka Miss Goodliving).

using coloured gels in photography, Ian Trayner, photographer in kingston

The brighter a light source, the less effective a coloured gel will be

The brighter the light source, the less a gel changes the colour of the light. This may seem non-intuitive until you think about it. But  when you think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

Translucent gels appear coloured because they selectively reduce the amount of light getting through at different wavelengths. For example a bue gel allows blue light through, but reduces the passage of other wavelengths, such as yellow and red. Gels that are more saturated will allow less light through. So if the light source is not very bright,the gel will block most of the non-blue light.

With a brighter light source, the blue light still gets through. But there isn’t enough dye to totally block the other wavelengths. So the brighter the light source, the more light of other wavelengths passes through the gel. This means the transmitted light starts to look more like white light.P

Probably the best way to get a feel for what happens is to do your own experiments. Sometimes it is quite fiddly getting the balance of colours you want. But like all photography, the more you practice, the better you will get at it.

The Beer-Lambert Law

If anyone wants to look it up, the Beer-Lambert law is the one that describes how light is absorbed when it passes through translucent materials. This law is usually used to describe how light is absorbed when it passes through a coloured solution, but the same principles apply when light is transmitted through a tranlucent gel.  Here is another relatively simple description of the Beer-Lambert law.

Would you like to book your own photo shoot using coloured gels?

Follow this link if you are interested in booking a photo shoot.

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model experience photo shoot with an equestian theme

“Equine beauty” photo shoot

What is an “equine beauty” photo shoot?

An “equine beauty” photo shoot is a “model experience” photo shoot with a horse.

There isn’t really an accepted convention for what to call these photo shoots. One could call it a “model experience” photo shoot, or a “glamour shoot with a horse”. But I tend to call them “equine beauty” photo shoots. There is a risk people will think it is the horse that is meant to be beautiful. But of course all horses are beautiful!

But whatever you call this type of photo shoot, the aims are always as follows;

  1. To capture the young lady looking good
  2. To show the relationship between the young lady and her horse
  3. To show the horse looking good
  4. To do all this safely

The photos in this blog post were taken at the stables where the horse lives, in Sussex.

Equine photography

Equine photography needs special skills. Some photographers become specialists who only do equine photography. Many of these photographers are horse riders themselves, so they are immersed in the subject, and understand exactly what the client is likely to desire in the postures of their horses.

It is necessary to understand the conventions that govern whether the horse “looks good”. For example, it is considered very important that the horse’s ears are directed forwards, as in all the photos shown here. This often causes problems, because horses are “prey animals” and their ears are constantly reacting to noises that come to them from all directions. One can try making unexpected noises in order to attract the attention of the horse’s ears, but it seems most horses rapidly acclimatise to new sounds. Furthermore, there is always a risk that a nervous horse will be upset by unusual sounds.

Showing the relationship between the horse and “model”

Usually, but not always, the “model” will be the person who owns the horse. And because of the investment of time and money involved, and the importance of capturing good images, I always recommend hiring a professional make up artist for this kind of photo shoot.

Speaking in general, photographs that “tell a story” work well. One of the aims of this type of equine photography is to show the relationship that exists between the horse and (usually) it’s owner.

Many people who own and ride horses have photographs, but it is relatively unusual to get “glammed up” in order to have photographs taken of you with your horse! So this type of photo shoot becomes a special experience as well.

So we want the owner to be “glammed up” according to what they feel comfortable with, we want to capture the relationship between the owner and the horse, we want the horse to “look good”, and we want to do it all safely.

Health and safety

There are also significant health and safety concerns, because horses are very heavy and immensely stong animals. They can quite easily break the bones in your foot if they step on it for example. So one has to be careful. It is also wise for a photographer to check that his professional public liability insurance covers him to photograph horses.

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Photography methods

The two photographs of the model against the sky were lit using battery powered studio flash. Actually I used the trusty Ilux Summit 600, which happens to be the type of unit I own.

All the other photographs were taken using only natural light.

Incidentally, some horses are totally happy with flash, but others are not happy. Horses vary a great deal in their personalities. Some horses are much more nervous than others, and even the appearance of a lighting modifier sitting atop a tall stand will spook some horese.

Personally I prefer to shoot horses using natural light. So it is important to position your subjects so the light upon them is flattering.

Would you like to hire me for a professional photos shoot?

 

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Model Experience photo shoot with C Walé Beauty

Photos from a “Model Experience photo shoot”

But what is a “Model Experience” photo shoot?

The aim is to give a client a complete “model experience”, but without the pressure to “perform” that a real model might have to deal with. I want your experience to be relaxing, memorable and enjoyable. You can even bring your own music (speakers are provided). In addition of course we will create some beautiful professional images.

Because I only book one “Model Experience” photo shoot per day, I am able to spend as much time as necessary to create some beautiful images. I don’t like watching the clock too much when I am shooting, and I would rather spend a little more time (if necessary) to capture something excellent. In general I allow up to three hours shooting time, but if things are going well, and we both want to continue, I won’t necessarily cut off the shoot until we are happy. You would be surprised how quickly three hours disappears if you are working with different looks, especially if the shoot is split between the studio and a location.

What if I don’t know “how to model”?

Most people aren’t born knowing how to be a good model. Don’t worry, because I will guide you if necessary.

All my photo shoots also include a pre-shoot consultation, during which we will explore what you want to get out of your shoot. We can call upon all my experience, and work in various styles. Have a look at the “Fashion Style” section (with it’s submenu) on my website for inspiration. You can also show me photos by other photographers at your consultation.

Make up by C Walé Beauty

“Model Experience” photo shoots make use of the skills of a professional make up artist. I work with several professional make up artists, all of whom I know and trust. The make up artist on this particular shoot was Caroline of C Walé BeautyIt is always a pleasure working with Caroline. She is a very reliable make up artist, who works wonders with make up and hair styling. She also has a facebook page here.

In this photo shoot, Caroline created a traditional Nigerian look. Twice. And it should be obvious that in this particular shoot, the model’s hair was not the focus of Caroline’s attention! I did not realise how much is involved in getting those head scarves to look really good.

Would you like to book me for your own “model experience” photo shoot?

If you would like to go through the “model experience”, have a look at my “booking a professional photo shoot” page.

Professional photo shoots make excellent and unusual gifts

Click on this link for a short “behind the scenes” video clip

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

 

model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty model experience photo shoot, Ian Trayner photographer, C Walé Beauty

 

 

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