Abi in room 402

Abi warming up between shoots. She is great fun to shoot with.

1. Abi warming up between shoots/ sheets. You can see her smile in her eyes.

Part 2 of 12 hours in room 402. Part 1 and the background story is here. The morning after our shoot with Agata, Abi arrived from Gingersnap model agency in Bristol. I’ve not shot with Abi before and she was a delight to work with. Here is a small selection of our shots.

02. We started day two with a few window light shots.

02. We started day two with a few window light shots but we lit them. You can just make out from the shadows in the shot above that I’ve lit Abi from a Lupolux DayLED 650 light just out of the left of shot. I’ve dimmed the light to keep the look natural. I used the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 wide open at 1/40th second and with ISO 200. I used a monopod to steady the camera and directed Abi to check out Facebook while we took some shots.

03. I added a Lupolux 650 LED light on a boom arm to create a pool of light for Abi.

03. I then rigged the Lupolux 650 LED light on a boom arm to create a pool of light for Abi. I used the new Sigma 35mm lens at f/2.8. ISO 400 and 1/60th second.

04. Simple window light portraits are easy to take by North facing windows.

04. Simple window light portraits are easy to take by North facing windows. Sigma 150mm OIS lens wide open at f/2.8. ISO 1250 at 1/60th second.

05. Exposure details as above.

05. Exposure details as above.

06. As above.

06. Exposure details as above. I processed these images in Lightroom to look like pencil drawings. It’s a big switch from the punchy monochrome look from the night before.

07. I love the

07. I love the mush that out of focus elements in mirror shots give an image. ISO 1250, 1/60th at f/2.8

08. ISO 1250, 1/60th at f/2.8

08. ISO 1250, 1/60th at f/2.8

09. I showed my delegate how to create that magical low key figure lighting using the minimal of kit.

09. I next showed my delegate how to create magical low key figure lighting. This lighting style is perfect for pregnancy or art nude where line and form need to be clearly defined. ISO 800, 1/60th second at f/2.8

10. It works well for full length shots too. I used the Sigma f/1.4 lens at f/2 for this shot.

10. This lighting style works well for full length shots too. I used the Sigma f/1.4 lens at f/2 for this shot.

11. Studio lighting techniques work well in hotel rooms too.

11. Studio lighting techniques work well in hotel rooms too.

12. 150mm OIS macro lens at f/2.8 for 1/60th second at ISO 1250

12. 150mm OIS macro lens at f/2.8 for 1/60th second at ISO 1250

13. We eventually used the easy chair and placed it by the window.

13. We eventually used the easy chair and placed it by the window. It was a very dark day hence needing ISO 800, 1/60th and f/2.8 with the Sigma 150mm macro lens.

14. Lisa Keating had kindly lent us a corset and skirt for the shoot so we used it for a few frames on the bed.

14. Lisa Keating had kindly lent us a corset and skirt for the shoot so we used it for a few frames on the bed.

15. Another window light shot.

15. Another window light shot.

16. This time I added a bare faced Speedlight on 1/128th power (minimum) from behind.

16. This time I added a bare faced Speedlight on 1/128th power (minimum) from behind. The ambient light level in the room was so low we couldnt get the Speedlight power down enough to provide a good balance.

17. It's worth seeing a bit more of Lisa's fabulous corset.

17. It’s worth seeing a bit more of Lisa’s fabulous corset.

Abi-18

18. I love this classic lighting style. I was careful to direct Abi to cross her legs and curve her back to give this shot a dynamic style. Sigma 35mm lens at f/4.5, ISO 800 at 1/100th second.

19. Another take on that classic boudoir contre jour lighting style.

19. Another take on that classic boudoir contre jour lighting style.

Abi-20

20. It wasn’t long before it was dark and I pulled out an Arri 150 to light Abi. Sigma 35mm lens on the Canon 5D mk2.

21. Continuous light gives us other styling options too. 150mm lens, 1/80th at f/2.8

21. Continuous light gives us other styling options too. 150mm lens, 1/80th at f/2.8

22. Exposure as above.

22. Exposure as above.

23. This Audrey Hepburn look was carefully directed in the bathroom mirror. 1/80th f/2.8 at ISO 800.

23. This Audrey Hepburn look was carefully directed in the bathroom mirror. 1/80th f/2.8 at ISO 800.

Combined with the picture set from the night before these make up the kind of variety that I shoot in one regular hotel room. The room is a step above a Premier Inn or Travellodge room but not at a boutique hotel standard. A room like this could be found in any European town or city.

Lighting kit: I used an Arri 150 at £306 and an Arri 300 at £318, a Lupolux DayLED 650 at £700 and a Lupolux DayLED 1000 at £900. In the bathroom I used a battery operated low voltage Lowel id light at £612. The lighting kit combined cost about the same price as the Canon 5D mk3 camera without a lens at launch. It’s competent lighting that make these shots, the camera just records them. I dare say it, these pictures would have looked good taken on a mobile phone. However, having lighting kit is not the same as knowing what to do with it. We are often the weakest link in the picture making process. My advice is take the time to invest in yourself. Watch DVDs, practice techniques, attend a workshop, practice techniques then practice some more before using the lights on customer jobs.

I often see or hear about ‘professional’ photographers using fast prime lenses to avoid having to use lighting. “I hate flash” is a regular quote I hear. With the right workshop this fear can be overcome. I had to learn ‘flash’ when I left the BBC. I spent three days with a photographer called Andy Earl and in that time the penny dropped. Lot’s of practice since then has given me picture shooting opportunities and confidence. If a commercial client wants me to shoot at low ISO and with oodles of depth of field to capture the detail in clothing and yet maintain the ambience of the venue it excites me rather than scares me. Life as a photographer should be fun.

A 1:1 training session like this doesn’t need to break the bank and you can be sure that the improvement in your photography will be far more noticeable than spending money on a new camera. Email Laura for information on training to take your photography to the next level.

Lenses: The next investment after training is glass. Great lenses make great images. It’s their role to convert the three dimensional scene into a two dimensional image. I must say that I was suitably impressed with the performance from the three Sigma lenses that I have had the chance to shoot with over these last three sessions. My previous experience with Sigma lenses way back in BFB (before Facebook) was of a substandard product not built to last. How times have changed. The construction quality of the Sigmas is better than my Canon L glass and the optical quality is spot on too. The 35mm lens by Sigma is the first of the next generation of lenses and independent tests have shown it wipes the floor with the best from Canon and Nikon. I try to stay neutral in all this and my opinions are formed from experience. In just three days of shooting with the Sigmas my ideal lens line up has changed to:

Full frame Canon camera (I’m hoping for a Canon 3D sometime in 2013 to replace my 5 year old 5Dmk2) with:

Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 (I already own this and I’m delighted with it)
Sigma 35mm f/1.4
Sigma 50mm f/1.4 (I’ll be sticking with my Canon 50mm f/1.4 for now as I can’t justify the change but I do prefer the Sigma)
Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro L IS (Not good build quality but fabulous optics and the all important IS)
Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro OIS (Great build quality, optics and IS)

Please feel free to comment below.

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About Damien

Damien Lovegrove learned his trade as a cameraman and lighting director during 14 years at the BBC, working on programmes such as the Clothes Show, Top of the Pops and Casualty. Fifteen years on, Damien has become one of the foremost trainers of photography and entrepreneurial business strategies in our industry. A published writer and regular columnist, Damien has travelled the globe sharing his knowledge and expertise. “Photography fascinates me” declares Damien. "Much of my photography is inspired by a burning enthusiasm within me” explains Damien. “Picking up a camera gives me such a rush that I’m instantly driven to create pictures.”

10 thoughts on “Abi in room 402

  1. Why is it Damien Lovegrove that everytime I read your blog I want to come on another course? :) I was going to get 100mm L macro but am I better off with the Sigma 150mm? Really looking forward to watching the rest of the DVD and hopefully coming on the 3 day wedding workshop early next year.

  2. Hi Russell,

    You make me smile. The 100mm macro is a great lens. I’m getting the 150 because I want a longer lens for some portrait work and I like the longer working distance for super close up pictures.Prime combinations are often 24, 50, 100 or 21, 35, 50, 85, 150 but I’m going for 21, 35, 50, 100, 150. There’s not an 85mm lens out there that I want right now. If there was an 85mm f/1.8 OIS then I’d sell the 100 and have 85 and 150 both stabilised. We have 1 place left on the 3 day wedding workshop in March.

    Kind regards, Damien.

  3. Hi Damien, Have you also tried the Sigma 85mm 1.4? I have the Canon 85mm 1.8 and love it, I’ve heard the Sigma is very good. And of all the 50mm’s you’ve tried, which do you recommend?

  4. Hi Tom,

    Yes, I have the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 on test. I shot a client in the studio on Friday almost exclusively with the 85. I don’t see the need for one without OIS as I have to use at least 1/250th second to get really sharp pictures on a 22mp sensor.

    50mm lenses: I bought the Canon 50 f/1.2L and I couldn’t get sharp pictures consistently, the contrast was low, the lens is soft at f/16 and there is no f/22 because of diffraction and the focus was slow. So I sold it and bought the 50mm f/1.8 for about £100 new. Focus was slower still but at least the shots were sharp from f/2.8 – f/16. The lens came apart in my hand one day and so I bought the Canon 50mm f/1.4. It’s the best of the Canon 50mm lenses but it is so cheap and nasty to use. It does focus correctly and it is quite sharp with a reasonable contrast. I now have the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens on test and it is a real lens made of glass and metal. It makes great images and is way better than the Canon f/1.4 in my opinion. The trouble is I already own the Canon so I can’t justify spending more money to switch to the Sigma. Maybe when my Canon lens falls apart I’ll replace it with the Sigma.

    I hope this helps,

    Damien.

  5. Thank you Damien, I just come back again and again when I need some inspiration. I love how your photos just stand our from the crowd of f1.2 shots, the same stiff poses and the same vsco actions. Great to see stunning use of colour, hard light and lights of all sorts. Always inspirational.

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