Tag Archives: Model

Photographing a future Super-Model

As many people may have noticed on my various social network sites (, Facebook, etc.) that I recently photographed a model named Laura. Laura is not just any model that many of us here in the Raleigh-Durham area, but a celebrity model.

Laura was the runner-up on . Several people have asked how I got this opportunity. Well, Laura is my great-niece. Her grandmother Wanda Sue is my sister.

My family has been suggesting that I get a chance to shoot her before she heads off to the to pursue her career. I had a very narrow window of time to do that. It had to be after the show finished and before her time demands make her unavailable to even family. That time was this past weekend.

I knew I wanted to accomplish several things while shooting her. Those included a beauty session, a couple of editorial sessions showing up some Wanda Sue’s Fashions. Wanda Sue (we just call her Sue) had made several of Laura’s outfits that she wore to the judging panel and Wanda Sue became kind of her own celebrity. Then I wanted to do a couple of high fashion looks.

To do this, I would need a styling team. I wanted someone excellent with hair and someone with a lot of creative makeup ideas. It would have been easy to pack up some limited gear, fly to Kentucky and shoot on her schedule. I would struggle to find the talent needed and even then, I wouldn’t have a working relationship with them. I also wanted to shoot the editorial shots in an urban setting, so it seemed logical that shooting here in Raleigh-Durham would be perfect. Stylists I trust are here and my location looks are here.

I contacted Jennifer at D’Jin Salon in Durham to see if she would be interested and she jumped at the opportunity. Her salon would serve as a perfect base of operation, doing studio shots in the salon and the editorial looks around downtown Durham.

For makeup, I had recently worked with Daniel from Libra Looks. He had a book of makeup ideas that he had been working on and was a fan of the show. Though Daniel and Jenn had not worked together, I got them emailing back and forth and let them have creative control over all styling related issues. Hey, I’m not a stylist.

They make Laura look good. She poses well. I make sure the photos are sharp and lit well and surely magic would happen.

While dodging interview after interview and local shoots, Laura and I worked out a plan to get her here. 37,500 frequent flyer miles and some taxes and fees later, she had a flight from Lexington to RDU.

To add an interesting twist to this, my youngest son’s Junior Ice Hockey team was playing two games in Wake Forest this same weekend and we had arranged to feed the team before their Saturday game. My wife’s parents drove in from Kentucky to see Chris play and help with the team meal.

My MIL has been watching ANTM all season and cheering for Laura so my wife and I decided to make this a surprise that Laura was coming in. In retrospect perhaps I should have had them pick her up on the way!

The surprise would have to be delayed 12 hours as filming for the Tyra Banks show caused Laura to miss her fight. The next flight wouldn’t get her to RDU until 8:30am the next day instead of 9pm the night before.

We also caught a break. Tropical Storm turned noreaster Ida damaged the fleet of vans Chris’s team was planning to use to get to Wake Forest. So they had to bring a bus and the driver limits prevented the team meal from becoming a reality.

The night before the shoot, the stylists hinted they were nervous about the shoot. We had no idea what wardrobe was coming and they saw an opportunity with a celebrity model as too important and didn’t want to blow it. I was worried too because other than the vague outline of what to shoot, I had no idea what “looks” to do. I don’t get chances with models of Laura’s calibre very often either and I didn’t want to blow it. But I had faith in the styling team so I knew it would be okay.

I also invited Tom Winstead to come shoot with us. Tom and I shoot a lot together and he has always helped me out and this was a good way to repay him for everything.

With the team set, we now only had to dodge the two hockey games because I don’t get to see Chris play often and with the in-laws in town, they were not to be missed. We also wanted to have at least one meal with him.

Saturday, 8:30am
Laura arrives at RDU. A quick trip back to my house for breakfast and then off to the salon.
We arrive in Durham and the stylists start looking over the wardrobe and talk with Laura about the ideas. We start setting up lights, backgrounds and such while the styling beings. Visitors arrive in the form of my wife and in-laws to watch the beauty shoot portion. By 2pm, they depart.
We start the first of two editorial shoots. In between, we keep the the styling, but add a little additional makeup and Laura becomes a marionette puppet. A quick studio session with that look, then we style for the 2nd editorial look. Then back inside for the final two fashion looks.
Leave for Wake Forest and the hockey game. Luckily my wife brought the computer to the rink, so I was able to download and get some photos up quickly from the WiFi at the rink.
Leave the game for home. We arrive a little after midnight and its back to editing for a bit and we probably get to sleep after 1am.
Sunday, 8:30am
Time to start day 2. The hockey game was in the middle of the day, so after a breakfast, it was time to drive to the game. I got a little more editing and posting done before we departed. Its a 45 minute drive from home to the rink.
The 2nd game commences with more photoshop work in between periods. The game ends and we head to the local mall food court with the team.
We leave Wake Forest for Durham to start the second day’s photography. Its a 45 minute trip to the Salon. The stylists planned to get as many looks in as they could before we had to call it a wrap. Several of them were complex and required considerable styling time. Before we had to quit at 11pm, we got in four complex high fashion looks.
Finally home, a quick edit to get some shots from Sunday up and then call it a night
Monday 6:30am
The alarm goes off. Time to get Laura to the airport to send her home.

Through out this whole process, we all were in pure awe of how talented Laura is. I’ve never had this many keepers from a shoot. All of her poses are strong. Her facial expressions are spot on. Clearly she took Tyra Banks’ advice about “Smizing” (smiling with your eyes).

Laura is also incredibly versatile. Each look was different. Even within the same look, one angle would be completely different than another. Jenn describe her hair as perfect. She was a wonderful canvas for her and Daniel’s ideas. Laura hit it off well with the stylists which I now realize may be some of the most chemistry needed at a set. When sitting in a chair for over an hour being poked, prodded, glued and tugged, having a good report with them is important.

Then the camera turns to her and and infinite number of poses appear beautifully before the camera. It was the most incredible shoot I’ve been part of. Enjoy the photos.

1 Light 4 Moods – Part 3

Bliss Softlight, originally uploaded by Miracle Man.

For this photo, I had the flash shooting through a 33″ white translucent umbrella. I had the Nikon SB800 strobe light on manual 1/8th power and about 3 feet away from the model. When you only have one light, it pretty much is the main or “key” light. Most of the time, when your doing a portrait session, you want to go for a standard “broad” lighting setup.

Broad lighting is when the subject is pretty much looking at the light source. This illuminates a majority of the subjects face. Usually you pose a portrait with the head turned slightly to where you see about 3/4 of the face. When the light lights the 3/4’s part of the face, thats “Broad” lighting.

Another lighting style is called “short” lighting and this is where the subject looks away from the light and in the typical 3/4 pose, the 1/4th side of the face is illuminated with the key light.live streaming film Sausage Party

Another way of thinking about this is broad lighting lights the eye closest to the camera, short lighting lights the eye furthest from the camera.

Usually you start portraits with the lights at 45 degrees to either side of the camera and 30-45 degrees above the subject. This is great portrait lights, but its not very creative. Its great to start there and get a few safe shots done, but you should consider moving the lights and break the rules. However a few concepts should be kept in mind.

Its all about the eyes. If your subject’s eyes are going to be open, having a strong set of “catch lights” or the reflections of your key light in the subject’s eyes is critical to pulling the viewer in. Also eyes lost in the shadows of the eye sockets are generally unattractive (unless your shooting horror shots!) so getting light into the eyes is something you should always be conscience of .

But for this photo session, we were going for a “Film Noir” look. Film Noir, is a lighting style seen in the 1940’s and besides being black and white, its characterized by strong side lighting. I didn’t want the spotlight effect as used in the two previous articles. I wanted a softer light for this shot, but with enough directionality to give some hard edges.

I set the light’s height almost level with the model and directly right of her. A shoot through umbrella acts like a round softbox giving a soft feathered light that helps wrap around avoiding hard shadows. However, since an umbrella is curved it also has the effect of “spilling” light in nearly a 180 degree radius. So this setup, put enough light on the background to give me a reasonably smooth background gradient as well.

Of course with the light this far to the side of the camera, there is risk of lens flare as the light on the near side of the umbrella is firing at the camera. Depending on power, you might have to “flag off” or block the light coming towards the camera. Between the Nikon D200 only using part of the lens’ coverage circle and having the lens hood on, I avoided any flare in the photo.

I set the exposure on the camera to avoid any blowouts in the white. Final tonal adjustments were made in Photoshop to equalize the range between black and white. But with the hot side lights and enough feathering her body, we get this mysterious yet soft photo.

The one regret. No one smokes (and our house is smoke free where this is shot), so no cigarette in the holder. Had there been one with a small puff of smoke, I think I would have used this photo for the Raleigh Flickr Group’s Summer Project. instead of the one in the first post.

Next up, Rim Lighting.

The Struggle

The Struggle, originally uploaded by Miracle Man.

Okay, I’ve been a bum when it comes to posting to this blog but I’ve had an interesting last 6 months.

Early in July, I was approached at work to take on a pretty important and project: manage a web redesign for the a very visible division of the parent company I work for. I also had the pleasure of doing the heavy lifting on the code. After 3 months of 13 hour days, I’m just now returning to something that represents normality.

I managed to get a few model shoots in, but for this particular shoot with Brittani, the model, and I had been wanting to shoot, but I had no idea what to do. When you work 13 hours a day it drains your creativity… your energy…. and your desire.

I tossed about an idea for doing a shoot that was kind of urban waif, homeless girl look. She liked the idea. The next problem I had to overcome now that I had a theme was where to shoot it.

While working with the stylist on the ideas, she told me she had the perfect place and with styling and a location in place we had a shoot.

Prior to the shoot, we met at the stylists house. Brittany was already there and working on wardrobe ideas. Once I arrived we settled on a pair of old jeans and a sweater that could be sacrificed.

The jeans were ripped in select places, frayed in others, and some pure bleach poured in and allowed to soak a bit gave us some uneven colors.

The sweater top had the neckline cut out, the sleeve edges cut and frayed and various strings of yarn were pulled out to rag up the sweater as much as possible.

Once hair and makeup was done, we drove about a mile to the location, an abandoned mobile home on a small farm. We started out on the front porch and moved to various locations. The above photo was one of the early shots on the porch. The tones in the door and wall are similar to those in the jeans and sweater making for a pleasing color palette.

The photo was finished in Photoshop using some free actions available on the Internet.

The lighting on the photo is natural light with a reflector camera left providing some fill.

Now that my big project is over, my mind is now in overdrive on ideas. I just have to find time to shoot.

Jungle Girl — Redux

Okay, so I’ve not been updating my blog lately.  I haven’t been travelling that much, but thats no excuse because I’ve still been shooting and well, this is a photography blog as well.  A thousand appologies.http://mensclub24.ru/

Today I present Jungle Girl, or at least the do-over of Jungle Girl.

I had previouslly booked Kate in July to do an after work shoot at a friend’s home.  His subdivision has a large natural arboritum that had all the characteristics I was looking for in regards to a shoot idea I had.  I needed a brook or creek, a fern bed, some fallen trees, etc.

I had seen a photo on Model Mayhem of what appeared to be a feral woman dressed in rags that had apparently been cornered in her forest home.  I had been wanting to do an outdoor/woodsy shoot for some time, but the cliche bikini model in the waterfall shot was all that was coming to my little unimaginative brain.  But this woodland feral look or jungle girl had a lot of possiblities.  Kate liked the idea so we comparied schedules.  No weekend’s worked out, so we figured we would try it after work.

Well it took a lot longer to get to the site than we expected.  By the time we got the styling done and got to the woodland location we were shooting, we had less than an hour to shoot.  The forest canopy is incredibly thick and to get anything reasonable meant shooting at ISO 800 or above and even then I had to supplement the lighting with an off camera strobe through a softbox.

There were a few photos I felt okay about, but still the noise, the softness from the low shutter speeds and the unnatural lighting just disappointed me more and more every time I looked at them.  The solution was to admit I stank and see if Kate would humor me with a do-over.  Which she did.

This time, we scheduled the shoot for a Saturday mid-day time frame.  Her hair and makeup appointment started at 11am and we were basically shooting by 2pm.  We shot at the same location, so travel chewed into our shoot time again.  We also had to dodge a tropical storm.  Hanna was scheduled to hit Raleigh around 10am.  After watching the track, I figured by 2pm we would either be free of the storm or only have to dodge a few light rain showers.  The biggest concern for me was clouds.  Lack of light killed the last shoot and I needed lots of sun for this.

The main goal was to use a pair of refelctors to find sun peeking through the canopy and angle the light back in on the model.  No sun, no reflecting.

In addition to Jungle Girl, we added a colorul red formal dress, with plans to “Trash the dress” into the mix as well as a Rambo/GI Jane look as we had access to some military uniforms and a weapon.  A fun day was in store.

Being able to shoot in the ISO 100-400 range using natural light and reflectors produced some much more dramatic lighting and allowed for sharper, more colorful images.

What do you think?  Was the redux worth it?

Travelling back in time….

Camaro, originally uploaded by Miracle Man.

Travel doesn’t always mean going on the road. Sometimes a quick jaunt to an empty parking deck can let you travel through time.

Sort of.

Our local group of photographers who share Flickr as our communications recently got together to photograph a vintage Chevy Camaro. We also had a modern Ford Mustang and a couple of cool motorcycles.

A date was set. We would use the top of a local public parking deck. Of course, several of us photographers have a habit of wanting to photograph models (of the Human) variety alot. So the question was posed . . . “Can we bring models?” The answer was yes.

What could be better than Muscle cars? Muscle cars with bikini wearing models.

We had a good showing of photographers along with two models, Becca and Laruen and a local makeup artist, Joanne Crowder.

The shoot started at 4pm but the models were not scheduled in for another hour, so we took our shots, but you could tell, everyone was really waiting on the models.

Becca was the first to arrive and within a few minutes, the Mustang never looked better. By the time we finished up with the Mustang and started moving Becca to the Harley Davidson softtail, Lauren showed up and was getting her makeup done.

Both models made it to the Harley. Then it was the Camaro’s turn. Eventually Becca had to go and we were left with Lauren to finish out the shoot with the sun setting in the background.

When I was looking at the photo above, it looked pretty good right out of the camera. Nice well balanced colors, good saturation, etc. In fact I felt it looked too good. Our modern Digital SLR cameras are tuned to give us sharp, bright, colorful photos. But sometimes its best to have a photo that doesn’t look all new and shiney.

So I decided to take this 40 year old car back to the late 60’s via a little Photoshop wizardry. First, I desaturated the colors about 25% to make it look like a faded photo.

Color prints from the late 60’s were printed on a paper that tends to redshift over time. So using the Level’s tool, while only working on the Red channel, I shifted the mid tones to give it a reddish look. Not satisfied, I visited the green and blue channels making minor tweeks until I was satisfied with the look.

So lets take a trip to 1968…….