Chloe in the country, lit with big flash ~ Pictures

Jul 10, 2010 | Flash, Location | 14 comments

This weeks shooting workshop took Chloe, some delegates, and I around Somerset on a quest for images par excellence. One delegate had flown from Venezuela to attend this workshop and my Fashion Fusion event next week, wow! No pressure then.

A silver umberella and my Mobil kit on 1/4 power was all that was needed for this figure in the landscape study.

1. A silver umbrella and my Mobil kit on 1/4 power was all that was needed for this figure in the landscape study. You can see the path of illumination as it cuts through the summer corn.

This workshop was titled Big Flash In The Country. Chloe styled herself and did her own hair and makeup superbly. Tara Taylor, an expert photographer in her own right, assisted us all. Thank you Tara.

The day started with a beauty set up that is more frequently found in the studio. I'm a great advocate of taking studio lighting techniques out into the real world.

2. The day started with a beauty set up that is more frequently found in the studio. I'm a great advocate of taking studio lighting techniques out into the real world. Three flashes and a reflector all played vital roles.

This is a small selection of the pictures that resulted from our day. The photographs are pretty much as shot except the mono images of course. It was quite a journey and I still can’t believe quite how many set ups we achieved in one shoot.

It was then out with the gels for this more theatrical take on the shot above.

3. It was then out with the gels for this more theatrical take on the shot above.

Throughout the shoot we used a striplight softbox, a beauty dish I bought on Ebay, a posh silver umbrella, a homemade grid snoot – again an Ebay purchase, a Broncolor ringflash head and a pair of bare faced Broncolor Mobil heads connected to one Mobil A2R 1200Ws pack. Oh and a Speedlight set to manual mode for good measure. The passive lighting was from my 15 year old Tri-Flector.

All the light on Chloe is from the flash and the background rocks too.

4. All the light on Chloe is from the flash and the background rocks too.

I was let down somewhat by my lack of preparation with my radio triggers. I should have started with new batteries all round. We did achieve every set up though. Working with big flash is never easy but it is richly rewarding.

The sun went in so we made our own with one Bron head on a Lowel Grand Stand beaming down through the trees. A beauty dish at 5 metres provided the keylight.

5. The sun went in so we made our own with one Bron head on a Lowel Grand Stand beaming down through the trees. A beauty dish at 5 metres provided the keylight.

I think I can vouch for us all by saying we were wiped out by the end of the day.

After an early lunch we went on to location 2. We climbed though a hole in a hedge, over some barbed wire and into the field. We took care not to disturb the crop whilst shooting this figure in the landscape set.

6. After an early lunch we went on to location 2. We climbed though a hole in a hedge, over some barbed wire and into the field. We took care not to disturb the crop whilst shooting this figure in the landscape set.

Monochrome suits scenes with strong somewhat overbearing colours.

7. Monochrome suits scenes with strong somewhat overbearing colours.

The light from a single flash head into a silver umbrella was perfect for this shot.

8. The light from a single flash head into a silver umbrella was perfect for this shot and the one above.

I held the camera over my head for this fab shot full of energy.

9. I held the camera over my head for this fab shot full of Chloe's effervescence.

Another of my favourite frames from the dozen or so that make up my sequence.

10. Another of my favourite frames from the dozen or so that make up my sequence.

The red dress, the coat, the shoes and the lipstick are Chloe's design, the lighting is mine. f/22 is a luxury

11. The red dress, the coat, the shoes and the lipstick are Chloe's design, the lighting is mine. f/20 at ISO 200 is an indulgence.

I borrowed this cloth from Julie's props store with a vision to creating a take on the bridal veil in the wind.

12. I borrowed this cloth from Julie's props store with a vision to creating a take on the bridal veil in the wind. Tara is just out of the shot having just wafted and released the fabric.

The sun came out and there was time for a few contra jour frames using just natural light before moving on. I showed how to bleach the shot with exposure to create this high key look. I used my trusty Hoodman Loupe to asses the exposure.

13. The sun came out and there was time for a few contra jour frames using just natural light before moving on. I showed how to bleach the shot with exposure to create this high key look. I used my trusty Hoodman Loupe to asses the exposure. The clarity of a well processed high key mono image leaves me tingling.

Sensual beauty, a caught moment in time.

14. Sensual beauty, a caught moment in time.

Ringflash was the order of the day at the logs. We climbed over locked gates, failed to read warning signs about trespassers being shot on sight all in the name of art.

15. Ringflash was the order of the day at the logs. We climbed over locked gates and failed to read warning signs about trespassers being shot on sight, all in the name of art. Chloe was covered in scratches and cuts by this stage but still gave us her all. This moment was a reaction to being stung by nettles.

Full on fashion for the cover of a magazine. Such is the look from the ringflash.

16. Full on fashion for the cover of a magazine, such is the look from the ringflash.

We finished the day with a beach shot at Clevedon. Two Bron heads barefaced and of course the sun for good measure. We were in a sun trap and baking by this point.

17. We finished the day with a beach shot at Clevedon. Two Bron heads barefaced and of course the sun for good measure. We were in a sun trap and baking by this point. I used my 21mm lens for this shot.

This shot of the same lighting set up was taken with my 70-200mm. Oh, how I long to have my 100m lens back from repair.

18. This shot of the same lighting set up was taken with my 70-200mm. Oh, how I long to have my 100m lens back from repair.

This set of images is the latest in a series of shots of Chloe that will form a big part of my life’s work. In the big scheme of things they may have little significance but to me they are very special indeed.

I have booked Chloe for several more shoots this year simply because she is brilliant, a true genius. (Not a word I use lightly). Together we click, and the images just roll. The delegates appreciate her beauty, patience and professionalism too. If you are siting on the fence wondering whether to join us or not, just do it.

Info leak: I have a three day shooting event with myself and a couple of exemplary fine art photographers coming up on the 7th – 9th of September. Details to be released shortly. Chloe will be modelling for me and the event will be based in Somerset . There will be evening events too, so keep the dates free.

Please feel free to comment on these shots or report back if you were a delegate on the day.

14 Comments

  1. Alex Bray

    Hi Damien,

    Have to agree with Pete, WOW!!

    Thanks for such a wonderful day of photography. The time you spent before the course finding perfect locations for each set up truly added to the training experience. Then during the day you broke down what we were learning into an easy format, and now I can’t wait to get out and about with my Big Flash kit and have a go myself. And

    Chloe is a real star, going above and beyond what models would usually do. She was such a pleasure to work with, although she has now caused me a slight problem as I have such a number of images I too am struggling to find my short list!

    And finally thank you for enthusing and motivating me in becoming a better photographer.

    Warmest wishes,
    Alex

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Alex, Thanks for your wonderful endorsement. I’ll be working with Chloe more and more over the coming months. We are on a journey together.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  2. Alex Mendez

    Hey Damien,

    Here is your Venezuela delegate, writing a few lines to thanks for a wonderful workshop.

    I have to say that with a great teacher, gorgeous model ( and with so much patience.. :) ) and the perfect settings…..I’m coming back to Vzla with so much new ideas and techniques, and outstanding photos for my portfolio, that made all the effort, time and money spent worthwhile!.

    Thanks to both and see you all on Thursday!!

    AMC

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Alex, Two days spent with Chloe and I must have worn you out :) Once again thank you for coming all this way for my workshops. I wish you great fun with your photography.

      Kindest regards, Damien.

      Reply
  3. Pete

    Wow – where do I start? I was fortunate to be on this amazing training course. An inspirational photographer with a beautiful model (who managed to remain in high spirits despite everything we made her do!) well researched locations and a sunny day made this a great day. I am grateful you worked so hard and kept pushing hard even after we should have finished.

    I have struggled to select my preferred images as there are just so many that work.

    When are you going to do another big flash course? Can i be first on the list – please?

    Thanks once again

    Pete

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Pete, have you finally finished your editing from this picture set? Thank you for your great comments and praise. I felt it was a turning point in my recent work. It was a wonderful experience for me to be with you guys on this exiting day. Yes! I’d love to do another big flash workshop and I’m working on a big flash in the city event.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  4. IONA MATHESON-LONG

    Hi Damien.

    I LOVE THESE IMAGES! 11 Is a favourite (not much damage done to the crop there then?!) and I can imagine the naughty word Chloe-Jasmine said on 15!!! In fact I love them all for their originality. You have discovered a fab model in her. You work really well with her and it shows in all the shoots you have posted on the blog. I am having fun on my shoots since coming on your studio course, thanks again ;-]

    Reply
    • damien

      Thanks for your kind words Iona. It seems that Chloe and I are are on a creative journey at the moment. We seem to bring out the best in each other and I like that. Every now and then my photography finds a new level, one that is different from the last but shows real direction. I’m not saying that the new level is better than the last, just different. Looking back on my favourite 400 portraits of my career 2002 gets a good representation even after all the familiarisation.

      Thanks again.

      Damien.

      Reply
  5. Tara Taylor

    I had such a fab time being the bag carrier on this shoot – just wish I had been a delegate with an SLR!! It really was fab to work with Chloe – not only is she a “true genius” but a great person too! It was a lot of fun and the images are stunning! Damien, you are brilliant!! I just need a ring flash….

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Tara,

      Thanks for your comments, I’m working on finding you a ringflash. It shouldn’t take too long.

      Cheers,

      Damien.

      Reply
  6. C-J Whichello

    Fantastic series Damien!

    Yet again it was a true honour to work with you; The variety textures and lighting are all astonishing ; If only my old maths master could have recognised my ” true genius” ….

    :) xx

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Chloe – Jasmine,

      I’m looking forward to Thursday’s Fashion Fusion shoot with you: Calm, serene, beauty, wistful, elegant, sublime, subdued, confident, reserved, and maybe cheeky too. I can’t wait.

      Damien.

      Reply
  7. Markus MacGill

    I’m not being sycophantic here, I promise, just full of creative appreciation – but I can’t get enough of 1, 3, 7, 8, 11 and 12.

    On 1, 7 and 8, can you do something for us that’s maybe not part of the workshops – tips on pukka B&W processing? Or, anyone, is there a great one-pager on it out there somewhere?

    I don’t so much mean program-wise, either – Lightroom, Photoshop etc do a brill and easy job of it – I mean eye-wise, where to tweak those sliders on the right shots…

    On 8, the light on Chloe is just scrumptious, and on her dress. I’d buy a print of number 8! It’s good to know that this sort of lighting needn’t be all that difficult to do.

    Your work with this model Damien, particularly shot 8, reminds me of some of the pictures in a book called ‘Balcons’ by a French tog called Jean-Francois Jonvelle.

    The pix in that book are fab and the subject of model and dress is so beautifully – and subtly – done in appreciation of women’s upper bodies. Have a flick through the pages of this PDF (not so nicely scanned pages though) from a mag piece about the book: http://www.jonvelle.com/docs/jonvElles/magazines/mag30.pdf

    Anyway, back to the workshop pix here!

    11 – awesome, love the outrageous depth of field. I’ll be replaying the relevant DVD on illuminating that kind of setting outdoors with speedlighting.

    12 – love it. I’m off to a fabric stall in the market…

    Finally, 15. LOL!

    Can’t wait to see more of your workshops with Chloe.

    Reply
    • damien

      Hi Markus,

      Thanks for your comments and questions :)

      Pukka B&W is not something that is hard to do, it’s a question of personal taste as to how you want the tones in a picture to record. Some people want punchy and dramatic while others calm and serene. It really comes down to artistic interpretation as there is no technical formula. Our black and white switch is done using the black and white command in Lightroom or Photoshop and then it is a case of moving sliders to taste. It’s all subjective and if it looks good it is good. Each picture needs a different treatment and that is the printers art I suppose.

      Number 8 is lit, and that is the point of the shoot. The effort is needed to carry a 10Kg light pack, a decent stand, a flash head and a silver umbrella down the road, over a style and into a field. Then go back for the camera bag etc. The positioning of the light is the straightforward bit, but because most photographers don’t have the kit, or are willing to go to the bother of making it happen this kind of shot remains the reward of the fashion shooters with a budget and assistants etc.

      Thanks for the link. I’ll do a bit of inspirational link gathering in my next post. It’s so important to share ideas and art.

      Shot 11 is at f/20 and lit with the Broncolor ringflash. It’s way out of the range that an Orbis can achieve but not too dissimilar to a shot that could be taken with a beauty dish right above the camera. It’s light power that is needed here. (The cheaper alternative is to shoot at dusk and use an Orbis but expect to work at f/8 max)

      Shot 15 is achievable with an Orbis.

      My next Chloe shoot is on Thursday and is an interior fashion shoot using just continuous lighting.

      Thanks for the inspiration sharing idea,

      Kindest regards,

      Damien.

      Reply

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