On our last shoot we went with a single model and a simple set up. This time around Lea wanted to use her actual customers as models to show that her clothes were not just designed to look good on models. The setting was also a little more elaborate. We got permission to shoot at the hangar of one of the residents of the aero community were Lea lives. This hangar housed 3 airplanes including a fabulous pink biplane. Being a plane buff myself, it was very exciting to be able to shoot in these surrounding.
Darcy Goicochea from South Florida Makeup Artistry was the makeup artist in charge of making the ladies look their best. This multi-talented makeup artist not only did a great job with the makeup but also styled some great looking hair. I can't even begin to express how important it is to have a good makeup artist at your shoot. It not only cuts your post processing time but it also goes a long way in establishing a professional quality in your images.
A Late Start
The shoot was on a Saturday afternoon. We picked a starting time of about 2pm not because I love the challenge of shooting at positively the worst light of the day but because that's when we could get all the models together. Remember these are not professional models who show up when you tell them to. These are regular people with lives and schedules that need to be worked around.
When I arrived at the house, the ladies were already in makeup and hair. Lea was making some last minute adjustments and fittings on her clothing and everyone was in high spirits.
The first set of shots would be on Lea's property and we would be using her husband's home built single engine airplane as a prop. My models would be Linda and Dr. Sears. I asked that the plane be moved to a location in the shade where I could get the plane, the model, and the sky while avoiding power lines and other homes.
I wanted to capture the nice clouds in the sky, so that meant that I needed to underexpose the sky a bit in order to get some nice contrast there. Underexposing the sky while still maintaining a 1/250 shutter speed for flash sync means I have to shoot somewhere in the neighborhood of f/22. At this aperture, my SB800 is not going to cut it. I had to bring out the Alien Bee.
The shot of Dr. Sears above was done with one AB400 in a reflective umbrella at full power. I was pleased with the way it turned out. I did have to bring the blacks up a bit in post processing in order to get the details in his suit. The same exact setup was used for the shot of Linda below.
When we were done with these shots, all the girls were out of makeup and ready for their close-ups. Dr. Sears suggested we get everyone together and take a picture with his car - a black Maserati. This was a no-brainer, the clothes are intended to show success and elegance and the theme for the shoot was already extreme transportation. The shot at the top of this post was done with all natural light and a reflector kicking back a little light on Dr. Sears' face.
It was now time to move on to the the main part of our shoot. This would be done at the hanger with the 3 planes. From Lea's house it was a quick golf cart ride down a taxiway and across the active runway to the hangar. There I had my 3 planes to pick from. The pink biplane, a high wing tail dragger, and a Yak aerobatic airplane.
The first shot would be with the high wing tail dragger. As the sun was still up in the sky at this time I asked that the plane be moved out of the hangar so I could shoot it against the sky. Lea had picked out 3 outfits for this shoot. I was to shoot the 3 models together and then individually. I used the same formula as in the previous shots. Slightly underexposed sky and an umbrella for a main light. It was late afternoon by this time, so my speedlights were quite capable of lighting the scene. This part of the shoot was relatively uneventful. I did have to step my shutter speed down as the sun went down to keep the sky exposed where I wanted. I also had to feather the main light. The umbrella, which was in reflective mode to control the spill of light a little, was to camera left. I had to point the light more towards the model on the far right. This sends the most direct light towards the model who is farthest from the light. The other models get the edge of the light, but because they are closer, the exposure is the same on them as it is on the far right.
The next shots were to be taken with the pink biplane. I asked that it be moved a bit closer to the front of the hanger so I could have a little more room to shoot. By now it was dark out and all the light would have to come from me. I did want to include the hanger in the shot to give it that kind of garage look, but with planes. The problem was how to light a huge hanger - capable of housing 3 planes - with my equipment. I used my old stand-by recipe and shot my alien bee into the ceiling for fill. Then I used a large umbrella for a main. This setup always works (as long as the ceiling is white). The girls were great and we got some terrific shots. I shot some from the front to capture the massive Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engines, and some from behind the wing as if the models were waiting to climb aboard.
For the next setup, we moved the biplane back and shifted over to the Yak. I still had my setup with the Alien Bee pointing to the ceiling and the umbrella with the speedlight as the main. Since the hangar had a very high ceiling, I had my Alien Bee on top of a 10 foot stand fully extended. There was a long extension chord supplying power to the light. We also plugged in a large fan into the same extension to both blow the hair and keep the mosquitoes away from the models. At one point Lea tried to move the fan and accidentally pulled on the extension chord knocking down my light! The flash tube shattered as the 10 foot tower toppled over. Worse than losing the light, was the panic that set in - how am I going to light this hanger without a powerful light?
As it turned out, it wasn't as bad of a problem as I originally thought. I replaced the Alien Bee with another speedlight, increased the ISO a bit and shifted to a wider aperture. I lost some depth of field, but got my exposure back. The speedlight also had a slower recycle time as it was firing at full power. The important thing was that we continued the shoot with only a few minutes delay.
We were now well into the evening. The shoot was attracting some of the other residents to the hanger, and it had now become a full blown social gathering. Our hosts were bringing out bottle after bottle of Champagne and every one was having a great time including our models. This is always critical. If the models are not having a good time, it will show in the pictures. I was fortunate here that the models were all in familiar and comfortable territory.
This was the end of the shoot. I had a great time, got some nice pictures for Lea and her models, and got to hang out around some awesome aircraft while sipping Champagne. I did lose a flash tube from my Ailen Bee, but all it took was a replacement flashtube. Total loss = $45 for the flash tube and shipping.
You can also see my pictures on Lea's website. I would like to thank all the great people at the Aeroclub community for making this shoot such a success. I will leave you with a few more images from the shoot.