Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shoot: Michelle Hope

Fitness Spotlight
It's been a while since I last posted. I have been very busy at work and have very little time to get on here to post. I hope to be able to post more often soon.

Here is a post I have been meaning to do for a while. It was my first session with a model from the site Model Mayhem. I have been a member of Model Mayhem for a while now, but have not had much luck setting up shoots with any of the models there. I'll leave that story for another post. Now let's get to Michelle.

I had been looking for someone to do a fitness shoot. I contacted a couple of models from Model Mayhem, but things seemed to always fall through at the last minute. When I contacted Michelle, I must confess I did not have much faith that it would result in photo shoot. However, we kept exchanging e-mails and the next thing you know we had a date and time set up!

I scheduled a sunrise shoot since I'm in West Palm Beach which is on east coast of Florida. At the time sunrise was to happen at around 6:30am, so it was a 5:30 wakeup call and I was at the beach by 6:00am. Right around 6:30 Michelle shows up with her husband for the shoot. It was a good thing that she brought her husband along because I was not able to get anyone to come help me out that early in the morning.

I had make up a list of shots I wanted to do the night before the shoot. It's important to go in with a plan, otherwise you will lose a lot of time trying to come up with shots on the spot. This is especially true when doing a sunrise or sunset shoot because the sun actually moves quite quickly. There is not a lot of time to get your shots in so you better be prepared to just move through them.

The shot at the top of this post was one I though up the night before. I wanted to place her in a spotlight while having the surroundings much darker. I had her husband stand on the pier and boom a light stand with a flash on it right over her head. To get rid of the shadows on the face, I had a second flash to the left pointing right to her face. I had to zoom both flashes to get the effect I wanted, but I really like how it turned out.

Sunrise StretchAs the sun came up, I was able to get some nice shots of Michelle stretching against the sunrise. I had two flashes setup here again. One was to camera right directly to the side of Michelle. The other was to camera left and behind her. You can see the shadow cast from the rear flash on the sand.

We did a couple of shots like this and then I got a few of her running down the beach. The sun was casting a bright reflection on the water that was just screaming for a silhouette against it. I asked Michelle to give me a good leap - but as she said, jumping was not her strong point. We did have plenty of good laughs at the many attempts. The final product was actually a pretty good athletic pose in my opinion.
The Jump

The colors at sunrise and sunset are unbeatable. It makes it well worth it to get up that early in the morning. Michelle was also a great sport. She repeated all the different poses, runs, and jumps over and over until we got what I was looking for. Her husband kept cracking jokes and poking fun at Michelle the whole time. This was great because he could bring out the most natural smile on her. All this and he was a great reflector holder as well.

We moved quickly to different locations and shot some nice varied images. I was able to practice many different techniques from straight up natural light, to diffused light, to strobes. I had to work through the failure of my cheap cactus V2 triggers which was not such a big deal thanks to the Nikon CLS. I have a Nikon SB800 which I can trigger from my pop-up flash on the camera. It's a life saver system.

The only problem with the CLS solution is that I am now limited to one flash. This is not a limitation of the system, but due to the fact that I only have one flash compatible with CLS. Under the pier, was great location for some portraits. I used the SB800 behind her as a rim light and a reflector in the front to throw the light back on her face. I used the golden side to simulate the early morning light. The geometry of the pier and the light came together to make this picture.Golden Light Portrait
I was very pleased with the way this shoot went and how the pictures turned out. I was quite nervous going in, since I had no previous experience doing a location shoot like this. I learned a lot about being prepared and how to get around problems. Michelle was a fantastic model, her husband was also great fun to have around and kept us all laughing throughout the shoot.  I hope to work with her again in the future.

By the way, just as closing observation. This shoot was a TFP (trade for picture) which means that I didn't pay Michelle and she didn't pay me. I gave her the pictures for her to use as compensation. This is the best way to learn. There is no pressure. You have room to explore the possibilities of the model and the location to it's fullest. Shooting TFP is a great way to gain experience or keep your skills sharp. Creativity, like most things, keeps improving the more you exercise it.