by David Weisenbarger, M.Ed. firstname.lastname@example.org
This is one of my favorite sessions. Tatyana really shined in this shoot and the colors were perfect for this little blonde. The set up was rather simple but the prep for it took some time. Here was the set up...
Model and Artistic Design
So many things come together to produce a particular look. Let's look at each element.
The backdrop was a custom made background, the same one originally designed for the grey shoots with Tatyana in the Florida studio. It was made of a large cut of vinyl flooring turned upside down and, using rollers, painted with flat latex paint. We took a trip to a home improvement store and looked through a number of different sample paint color chips. We finally decided upon a very light pastel yellow. I knew I wanted yellow from the beginning, but there are so many variations that could turn out a bit too harsh. I didn't want any tinge of orange, nor did I want to see any greens pop up in the shadows. So we picked up a good selection of yellow paint chips and brought them back to the studio. After testing a few out, we decided on the color you see.
Then I just painted over the grey with this new color. It took only one gallon to cover a full 14x20 foot section. The only major issue was that the new paint got the flooring material wet and made it reshape in some areas because the vinyl was so heavy. After letting it dry, I had to tape the back of the vinyl material to the wall with strong carpet tape in order to eliminate the strong strange shadows that formed in certain areas.
The model used some props she picked out, things that would go with the yellow theme. She picked a nice white lace teddy, a pink feather boa, and a cute matching pair of panties and bra from Victoria's Secret. A crucial part of the model's look was her body tone and her hair. She blow dried it, used a ceramic hair straightening tool on it, and made sure the hair really "fluffed."
We were going for the sexy, angelic, glam look for this session.
To get this, we used a nice big fan which was placed on the floor and pointed upward at Tatyana’s face. This fan placement made her hair flair up and really look alive. Tatyana's body was enhanced with a nice balance of oil gel and powder to the skin.
This was the first time I had used a beauty dish. After this shoot, I fell in love with this light modifier.
The main light was an AlienBees 800 strobe with a 24 inch beauty dish in place. The dish provided a nice, even, and warm bounce light that was also powerful and directional. The exact placement of the dish determines whether the look succeeds or fails. Too far away, and the light had no shaping direction. Too close, and the light was harsh and circular, not lighting the whole body very evenly. Too low, and the light hit the middle of the body to harshly. Too high, and the legs were left out. It can be an irritating process. You must also take into account the downward, straight, or upward angle of the light head. And don't forget the angle of light to the model, i.e. 90 degrees, 45 degrees, etc...
The perfect position in this case (and in most cases for me) was placement to the right of the model, as shown in the diagram, raised to about six feet at the dish's top edge, with the head angled slightly downward. The light was then metered at the tip of the model's breast for F6.3.
A background strobe was used to knock out any shadows falling on the backdrop. The light intensity was determined by slowly adding in light until the background appeared lit as desired in test shots.
In Canon's Digital Photo Professional, the exposure was slightly lowered because the session was shot a bit overexposed in order to obtain the proper color and highlight look. Once exposure was dropped, the shadow detail returned. The image was still a bit flat...but on purpose. I could have pumped in a bunch of contrast in the RAW processing, but chose to work on the JPEG images to add a bit of black later.
In Lightroom, I added a bit of mid-tone contrast. Then I added in a point or two of black (from black clipping adjustment tool) and the image popped just as I hoped it would. It doesn't hurt that Tatyana has perfect skin tone... :)