ice queen | inspirational photoshoot
camera | canon 1dx
lens | 85mm 1.2
strobe | alien bees 800 with beauty dish and sock diffuser
trigger | pocket wizards
mode | manual
exposure | 10 Seconds @ f 2.8, ISO 1600
most parts of the US are getting blasted with arctic weather right now and in o’fallon il that came in the form of up to 15in of snow and wind chill in the -30 range. now i know those of you in other parts of the country and world would probably laugh at temps like this with the obligatory “you call that cold?”, but i assure you, its freaking cold here and considering i shot a wedding 1 day prior and it was 40+ degrees – it was a drastic change.
as a side note, i was scheduled to be in nyc on a photoshoot with sue bryce for animoto. taylor and i were being photographed in the city for a new campaign they were producing for wppi.
so, here we sat at the office, doing our normal daily thing, when alissa came up to me and asked “what are you doing right now?”, my answer, the always sarcastic, “working.” 🙂 she replied, “i have an idea. we need to be out in the snow shooting. this is epic snow and we need to get outside.” and the process begins. immediately we started throwing ideas back and forth… do we go outside while the sun is up? do we turn it into a night shoot? who will model? what will wardrobe look like? etc.
at the end of the day, its all about pushing yourself and challenging yourself to find inspiration. its how we grow as artists. and the truth be told, i nearly gave up during the middle of the shoot. it was -9 degrees with a windchill of -18 while we were standing out there. we were out there for almost 3 hours to get this one shot. i am not kidding you – this was miserable. first of all, we were working in pitch black conditions. we were all freezing. getting the light to look right on a 10-15 sec exposure was all about trial and error – with each release of the shutter requiring micro adjustments. i remember thinking to myself, “why the f*&! am i standing out here right now?!” – that’s the point where we all get sometimes and that’s the point where we all want to quit. i just kept thinking, “come on, we are almost there, one more shot”. finally, i just had to get in the car and warm up – i think my brain was freezing at this point. i thought through the process, kept looking at the back of the camera, and came up with a plan of attack. i didnt quit – which in light of the challenges, trust me, i wanted to.
the challenges should be obvious at this point.
-completely out of my element with lighting.
-shooting in pitch black conditions.
-did i already say how cold it was? 🙂
so what did i get out of this? how did i overcome? and how will i apply this to my wedding or portrait business? so glad you asked.
shooting a 10sec exposure with a shivering and moving subject was no easy task. we were shooting in pitch black conditions. so getting the camera to focus was comical. first, we had to turn on a flashlight to set up her cape just right. just the right amount of cleavage, adjust the pose, the hood over her face, her hair. we had to make all these adjustments… then sprint back to the camera and with the flashlight still lighting her up, get the camera to focus, then turn the focus on the lens to manual to ensure it didnt try to focus again. whew, ok, we are ready to take the picture. nope… dammit, the hood fell over her face. start again. ok, we are ready to take the picture. nope… dammit. car coming. move alissa out of the street… then the curious cat… “what are you guys doing?” OMG my inside voice was screaming with sarcasm. i am after all a native ny’er. what are we doing? we are making snow angels! what does it look like we are doing? but i didnt. i left that to my inside voice, was very nice, thanked them for slowing down and then we are back! ok, we got focus and everything is perfect and pop… 10 sec exposure. micro-adjustments… and next frame until we got what we were looking for.
now, all this being said, you might be wondering how would i ever apply this to rest of my business? see, i use my downtime for inspirational purposes and experimentation. we have to! its what keeps us going as artists. look, i dont know, maybe you love this image or maybe you think its complete shit. end of the day, it doesnt matter to me. what matters is i got out there, tried something different, and i LEARNED something new. thats what this is all about. you have to get out there and try something new, experiment, fail, try again. this way, when you are working with paying clients, nothing throws you off your game. i could without a doubt repeat this lighting set up for one of my wedding couples or seniors. and the best part is, now that i have had a chance to do this and make all the mistakes, there is no doubt i can have this set up in less than 5 min. imagine on a wedding night, taking your client out for something like this – they would be blown away. talk about something different. something unique. this is the path to standing out from the crowd and showing your clients and competition why you are the best and charge what you do.
get out there and try something new. be inspired.
For some odd reason this image is taking a lot of heat on facebook… apparently, we suck. this picture sucks. she is fake. its a composite and a bad one at that. everyone… take a deep breath. relax. let me help put some things to rest for you. 1 – it is not fake. she is standing there in the middle of the road. no, she was not shot in a studio and dropped in. 2 – maybe we do suck. i accept that. somehow, i will find a way to brave on. 🙂 3- she is being lit with a beauty dish and shot at 2.8 – that is going to create separation. in addition, a beauty dish by its very nature is a rounded light that will create a very milky look on females with great skin and good makeup. also, its being shot from about 20 feet away. 4 – are you missing the point? get out there and experiment – thats what this is all about. try something new, learn, fail, try again. 5 – she looks like a cartoon, her face is painted, etc. yes, she is wearing makeup and being lit with a beauty dish. and you are looking at a 72dpi file. i wish i had some dark secret we were hiding on this image. however, there is not much editing going on here. some dodging and burning, fixing of some snow, and the application of some toning to make it cooler in nature. i have included a tight shot (zoomed to 300%) of her face to put everyone at ease. you can even see the ghosting from the long exposure. she was there, her makeup is pale in nature – part of the goal of the shot. she even has some red eye that has not been fixed.