Agata Mazur in room 402

Dec 18, 2012 | Continuous Lighting, Location | 17 comments

01.The fading light is reflected in the shower screen. I lit Agata with a Lowel id light on a lovegrove boom arm and lit part of the room behind me with a Lupolux LED 1000 daylight balanced spotlight.

It’s a long story but I acquired a room for 2 nights in a 4* Bristol hotel last week so I offered it to a delegate from Ireland for a couple of 1:1 shooting sessions. She flew over with her make up artist friend. They stayed overnight in the room to keep their expenses to a minimum. The format was perfect. Here are my pictures and our story from the first 4 hour shoot.

02. I created some blue flare from the edge of my Lupolux beam by removing the lens hood on my Sigma 150mm f/2.8 OIS macro lens. 1/80th second ISO 400 at f/2.8.

I decided we could squeeze in two shoots and here are a few of my shots from session 1. It was nearly dark by the time we started shooting so I used my Lupolux LED 1000 to provide some blue light to contrast with the near tungsten light in the hotel room. After the first couple of shots we just used an Arri 300 and an Arri 150 light for all the scenes.

03. Just a couple of Arris were used for this sequence of Agata. I shot using the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 lens on my Canon 5D mk2. It is biting sharp even wide open. I used f/1.6, 1/160th second at ISO400 for this shot.

A week before the shoots we exchanged picture ideas and I whipped up some mood boards for both shoots on my iPad. I tend to create mood boards for all my shoots now as I find it focuses my mind on the image mood that I want to capture. I always include style ideas for models and the creative team too.

04. I love to add a bit of punch in monochrome. Converted in Lightroom.

Agata likes it hot and we had the room at 30 degrees C for the whole shoot.

05. ISO 1000, 1/60th at f/2.8 using my favourite Canon 100 macro IS L lens. I was comparing the image quality of the Sigma 150 with the Canon 100 and to be honest both lenses are wonderfully sharp and focus just as well. The Sigma just happens to feel professional while the Canon feels cheap and plasticky.

My post production with these shots is just a touch of Adobe Lightroom. There is no skin softening so the pictures are real.

06. This one was taken with the Sigma 150 f/2.8 OIS macro. Settings as above. There is no way I'd want less depth of field in a 150mm lens so f/2.8 is the perfect value for me if it includes OIS because this is han held at 1/60th second. To get this sharpness with the OIS switched off I'd need 1/300th of a second at least.

07. Agata is gorgeous. My delegate chose the models from a selection that Laura prepared. Again this shot is taken with the Sigma wide open.

I picked up my delegate and our make up artist from Bristol airport then collected Agata from Temple Meads station. We checked in at 14:00 on the dot. I arranged for a room upgrade to give us a bit more space for the kit. It was in essence a standard generic hotel room with a bed, wardrobe, shower and desk. The upgrade did give us a soft upholstered chair to use too and a Nespresso machine. The decor was suitably bland. Our/ my challenge was to shoot for 12 hours over two days in the same room without exhausting the picture making opportunities. Game on!

08. Here is a colour shot for good measure.

09. I used the Arri 300 to light the background. Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lens on my Canon 5D mk2

10. Sigma 150mm wide open at f/2.8, ISO 800 at 1/160th second.

11. Exposure as above.

12. Sigma 150mm f/2.8 wide open ISO 800 at 1/00th second.

13. Exposure as above.

14. I've popped a few colour versions in because some Prophotonut readers like to see the colour of the scene and the rendition of the lens. Sigma 150mm wide open.

15. One light and two legs. Sigma 50mm lens at f/3.2, 1/100th second using ISO 800.

16. I swapped to the new Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and shot it wide open using ISO 400 and 1/80th second.

17. 35mm wide open at f/1.4. ISO 200 at 1/80th second. With non IS lenses on a 22mp camera I choose to use a shutter speed of the reciprocal of at least twice the focal length and I get sharp pictures hand held from static subjects.

18. This was shot with the 100mm Canon IS lens wide open at f/2.8. I used 1/80th at ISO 800. When I'm using the 100mm with the IS switched on instead of 1/200th I can use 1/25th and get sharp pictures. They say that the IS gives four stops of improvement but I find it's more like 3 stops. 1/25th second is not great for a slightly moving model so I chose to up the shutter speed to 1/80th second.

Sharpness is very important to me when I have the opportunity and time to get it right. I was frustrated at times with my 5Dmk2 and I wished I was using a 5Dmk3 like my delegate. However it is not enough of an upgrade for me to justify the expense. I’m waiting for the much rumoured 3D to compete with the Nikon D800. It would be nice to see one at Focus on Imaging. If it materialise next summer I will have had my mk2 for nearly 5 years and that is great cost per frame.

I like to stay creative with the planning of a shoot like this as well as the picture-taking so it was a joy to see all the preparations coming together. These dark winter months are perfect times to brush up on your interior lighting techniques. If you want to have a 1:1 hotel boudoir shoot experience with me then just drop Laura an email asking for ‘a deal’ on my normal rates. Haha. You’ll probably do okay but might have to wait a few weeks for a date that she can release. Laura runs my life at the moment, now that Blaise is on maternity leave. Laura has access to many models for all genres and can book us classic, boutique or minimalist modern rooms in a variety of hotels. I do studio 1:1 and 1:2 sessions too so get thinking, email Laura and get inspired.


  1. davhughes

    Lowel light purchased :)

    Great service btw


    • damien

      Thank you Dav,

      I have a few posts ready to blog that utilise the Lowel. Most notably a set I shot in a Scottish castle a few weeks ago. Keep an eye out for those.

      Kindest regards,


  2. Dav

    Great stuff Damien,

    I admire the fact that you have not jumped to the 5D3.

    Nice to see you using the Lowel id lights. I’m very tempted to purchase one!


    • damien

      Hi Dav,

      I’ll be replacing my 5D2 sometime this year. The Lowel iD light is an amazing bit of kit. I’ll be blogging a shoot in a Scottish castle that I lit with the Lowel iD light very soon. The Lithium powered version we supply lasts for over 3 hours and the battery pack is almost pocketable it’s that light.

      Best regards, Damien.

  3. Maarten Quaadvliet

    Nice series Damien! Very useful.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Kind regards, Maarten

    • damien

      Thanks Maarten :)

  4. Federico

    got it! thanks

  5. Federico

    Why are you using ISO 400 and 800?
    Maybe because lighting is not powerful enough to shoot at ISO 100?

    • damien

      Hi Federico,

      No not at all. I am using ISO 400 and 800 to balance with the ambient lights like the wall lights on the headboard etc. The Arri lights were turned down low on their dimmers most of the time. Kind regards, Damien.

  6. Steve Hobart

    Nice lighten, as always lol. I must get on one of your courses in the new year, lets see what Santa brings :-)

  7. Michael Long

    I’m from the old film days of photography, and just getting back into photography with this new digital thing, after being retired from the photography industry many years ago. Anyway, Love your approach to photography without all that fancy lighting and strobes etc. Your lighting is simple and you see light, and that is a wonderful thing. I’m following your blog or website, Keep up the great work and your teaching of light.

    • damien

      Thanks Michael for your kind words and stay inspired :) Best regards, Damien.


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