Leo Leblanche & Mischkah Scott in Tuscany

Oct 2, 2022 | Continuous Lighting, Flash, GFX, Location, Travel | 40 comments

This collection of 72 photographs of Leo and Mischkah was taken during my final workshops in Tuscany, in September 2022.

  • Photographer: Damien Lovegrove
  • Models: Leo Leblanche & Mischkah Scott
  • Styling: Damien, Leo and Mischkah
  • Technical support: Håvard Løberg
  • Event page: Tuscany 2022

 

  • Camera: Fujifilm GFX50s
  • Lenses: GF 23-64mm, GF 80mm, GF 110mm, GF 250mm
  • Lighting: Lupo Superpanel, Godox AD200 with Fresnel head
  • Filters: Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/2, Handmade Morrocan silk diffuser
  • Smoke Machine: Scotty 11 from The Smoke Factory in Germany
Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

01.  I wanted a sense of fairytale, children’s literature, with a narrative of jeopardy and belonging. Leo wears a layered tulle skirt and bralet that I had made for these shoots and she is lit with the Lupo Superpanel set to 3200k. The colour palette of these photographs is inspired by renaissance paintings.

This was my 10th workshop in Italy and the last one that I will run in Tuscany. I now have an opportunity to explore another region of Italy in preparation for an all-new workshop in September 2023. This was also the last of my workshops to feature nudity. It’s time to move on and as you probably know; my picture styles have continually evolved through the years. I’m developing a narrative-led lifestyle portrait genre for 2023 starting with this sell-out tour of the abandoned gold mines of Nevada and California in May.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

02. The cellar of this old Tuscan farmhouse is where the animals live in the winter. A new farm has been built by the latest generation of the family just 1 km up the track leaving this building, once home to their parents, abandoned. When I say ‘track’, I mean rough, rugged, rocky trail. Our hire cars just about negotiated the boulders without too many scrapes and dents on the underside.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

03. These walls have stories to tell for sure. This is a special place to be. It has the fabulous textures that I crave for my photography. The aroma of farm animals still fills the air and it’s exciting and a privilege just to be in this space. Leo is lit with the battery-powered Lupo Superpanel.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

04. Mischkah rests against a centuries-old feeding trough with a piece of cloth that I bought online. It looked just like one I saw on a sculpture in the Vatican museum.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

05. I placed the bottles on the mantlepiece in this railway workers’ hut three years ago and I love how they are still there. The only light here is the light of the sky coming through a  broken window. I reduced the colour temperature in my camera to create this warm, rich, atmosphere.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

06. Glancing light is fabulous to work with. The oils on the skin create a wonderful sheen and in turn specular reflections that push a spike on the histogram over to the right. I’m not one to look at histograms because they get in the way of art. I asked my clients to switch off the blinking exposure aids and histograms and just ‘feel’ the exposures. What could possibly go wrong? A Tiffen Black Pro Mist filter completed the look.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

07. Mischkah is lit with daylight entering the room through an open door. This is another abandoned farmhouse and one that I call the bike shack. You can’t see a bike in these shots but there is a bike in the building. I give my locations names because apart from coordinates there is no other way of identifying them. There are no postcodes or addresses. These are places where a 4×4 and a short hike is often needed to get to them.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

08. Left: Leo is in the farmhouse that I call the blue room and is lit with the Lupo Superpanel. Right: Mischkah is in glancing sunlight at 3:20 pm at Monte Amiata station.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

09. These blocks of wood set into the wall are where horse saddles were hung at the end of the day. The grim remains of the farm cat lingered just behind my tripod.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

10. I normally only have one model to shoot at a time so I had to make the most of this opportunity. Having shot over 400 weddings working with couples comes naturally to me. I wanted to portray friends, not lovers, in these shots. A howling gale came through open windows behind us, so it was a bit tough on the girls.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

11. Mischkah cut Leo’s hair the day before this shoot and the wind played havoc with the styling but I love the results.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

12. I have many beautiful pictures of this scene but I’ll share just two with you here. The other photographs will be in my future books for sure.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

13. Tuscany has many thermal spas and the water flow can reach 40°C at times. This pool and cascade isn’t at one of them. My smoke machine operated by Håvard delivered the atmosphere.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

14. Reminiscent of so many classical works, this photograph ticks my boxes. The shot perspective and foreground foliage contribute to the feeling of a voyeuristic view. The lingering smoke completes the look.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

15. I bought this hat online and it took quite a lot of steaming to recover its shape after the trip from China wrapped inside a ball inside a box. The hat really adds to these pictures and was one of my more successful purchases.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

16. Long grasses and an olive grove are some of my favourite shoot locations. You may have noticed by now that I try not include the sky in my pictures so finding an unkempt olive grove with a gentle slope up towards the sun was a task that took quite some time. Most olive groves are mown or ploughed between the trees.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

17. This modelling malarkey is tough at times. The look of course is deceptive. There are six photographers in the olive grove, bugs, creepy crawlies and possibly the odd snake but don’t mention that last bit to Mischkah when you next see her.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

18. The long and winding road…

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

19. There was just time for a picnic and a nap in a glade of Black Walnut trees. The ripening fruit of the walnut trees had a distinct lemon boquet.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

20. We had regular visits from two black cats at our private estate. This one snuck into the pictures for a fleeting moment before deciding to slope off. This mini session happened at 17:45 h just as the sun was sinking behind the olive trees.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

21. I lit Mischkah with a Scattergel fitted to my Godox AD200. The high viewpoint and downbeat pose deliver a narrative of regret.

 A moment of reflection

Long ago I wished to leave
‘The house where I was born;’
Long ago I used to grieve,
My home seemed so forlorn.
In other years, its silent rooms
Were filled with haunting fears;
Now, their very memory comes
O’ercharged with tender tears.

Charlotte Brontë

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

22. The crisp lines of Mischkah’s suit and dappled light caused by sunlight streaming through trees deliver a more upbeat note.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

23. I found a little bit of flat light for this portrait of Mischkah and I snapped Leo taking a BTS.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

24. Leo became quite attached to my hat or should I say the hat was attached to Leo. Either way, the hat was a cute accessory.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

25. Left: A gust of wind created a Marilyn moment. The shaft of sunlight striking through the broken roof of this railway station building adds to the drama. Right: Leo in full sun.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

26. This location reminded me of the Trumpton Clock. It’s a blast from the past and featured in the title sequence of a children’s tv programme from the 1960s. Yes, I’m that old! The white styling contrasts well here and the sunlight brings the shot alive.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

27. We mixed up the styling and shot angles between the workshops. I ran two 4 day workshops back to back with a few days off in Siena in between. We covered the same locations but with minor variations due to weather and circumstances.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

28. Leo at the ready to change the points while Mischkah looks on from her goods train.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

29. Leo and I found ourselves in the cab of a hot, stuffy train. Leo sat at the controls while I added a splash of flash to give the picture some punch.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

30. Mischkah in the sleepy back streets of Seggiano at around 4 pm on a sunny afternoon. The whole town seems to be on a permanent siesta at this time of year. The heat stored in the flagstones and walls radiates for several hours after the sun goes down.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

31. Leo in full sun. Right: In a back alley in Seggiano. Left: Against the sky.  As you know I try to avoid the sky in my pictures because it is often the brightest part of the scene and leads the viewer’s eye right out of the top of the shot. In this case, though I used it as a backdrop because the relative illumination of the crisp sunlight on Leo was set off nicely against the low contrast sky behind her. Contrast separation is great when it all comes together.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

32. Fashion portraits on the streets of Seggiano. Left: Hazy sunlight has a good combination of hardness with soft contrast to reveal Leo’s fabulous bone structure. Right: I often choose to go bold and work with the sun as a key light.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

33. Sunlit portraits in Seggiano. By 16:30 h in the afternoon the shallow angle of the sun had become exciting to work with.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

34. The side entrance to the renaissance Palazzo Piccolominia in Pienza circa 1456 was the perfect setting for this flash-lit portrait of Leo. The steps are so visitors can hop straight off their horses and into the palace.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

35. We passed by this wonderful entrance to Pienza town hall. Steeped in history and a fabulous location for a mini shoot. The gold dress is the subject of a book that I am working on and you might recognise it from previous shoots of mine.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

36. Left: Mischkah in the bedroom, lit with the Superpanel. Top Right: Mischkah on location, lit with the Superpanel. Bottom Right: Mischkah on location, lit with the light from a doorway.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

37. I closed all the shutters in the bedroom except one. I left it open a crack and that delivered a beautiful pool of light for this shot.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

38. I loved the energy in this grab shot of Leo. It’s not quite sharp where it needs to be and the night dress needs an iron but the feeling is there and that’s what matters in this photograph.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

39. I lit Leo with the Lupo Superpanel for all of these shots. Right: The light was outside the double doors shining through the glass to simulate sunlight. I often rig my lights outside of a room as that is where the light enters naturally and it keeps the shot free from lighting stands etc.

Leo LeBlanche sitting in a stable

40. For this mirror shot of Leo I tucked the Superpanel behind the wardrobe that is just out of shot to the left of the frame.

Well done for getting this far. Thank you for indulging me. I am planning two major workshop events each year. This year they were Fuerteventura and Tuscany. Next year they will be the USA and Italy. I’ve yet to finalise my locations in Italy and I’ll be off there again soon to do my recce. If you’d like to join me on a workshop or adventure sign up for my newsletter here. Places go fast and my newsletters provide advanced notice of their release.

40 Comments

  1. Martyn Elliston

    Hi Damien, Great images as always you are truly the master of light.

    Reply
  2. Michel Straub

    Hi Damien, just discovered some of your YouTube videos, great videos and very useful.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and tips with us.
    Your work is truly amazing and inspiring for me.
    Hope to see lots of new material from you soon

    Sincerely,

    Michel Straub, from the Netherlands

    Reply
  3. David Longstaff

    Damien, beautiful pictures, simply the best.
    Having been fortunate enough to have joined you on your recent Tuscany workshop I can’t recommend the experience highly enough. I’ve seen a big step up in my images when implementing what you so patiently taught me. Thank you also to Leo and Mischkah, both a joy to work with.

    Reply
  4. Paul Schroer

    Such a nice post again. Thanks for the inspiration. I’m often in the north of Spain but I definitely have to visit Italy I think :-). How do you like the GF 80mm? I have the 110 and it’s gorgeous but sometimes too narrow or I find myself having to have to much distance of the subject. So the 80 seems to be the logical choice…

    Thanks, Paul

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you for the compliments. I may find myself back in Spain or Portugal again soon as the weather is so appealing.

      The GF80mm lens has had a lot of bad press but it’s really not that bad. It focuses faster on my GFX50s than on my client’s GFX100s which I thought was strange. It does suffer from chromatic aberration in all areas of the frame when used wide open but that can be corrected with the eye dropper tool in Lightroom. Apart from that it is beautifully sharp and the bokeh is pleasing to the eye. I was going to sell it on after this trip but the results have earned its stay in my camera bag.

      Kind regards, Damien

      Reply
      • Paul Schroer

        Thank you Damien. I would stop it down a bit anyway to f2 or so. I should try one out. It’s a nice focal length.

        Reply
      • Paul Schroer

        PS regarding the weather; I find the humidity going higher each year (at least the North and Costa Brava region), that’s not pleasant. Warm and dry feels better, like the south of France and certain regions in Italy of course. I’ve never been to the South of Spain nor Portugal, so can’t say much about that. Anyway, I digress :-)

        Paul

        Reply
  5. Ivan Deleus

    Hi Damien, love these pictures. The master did it again ;) I do recognise some of the spots we visited last year. And again 2 perfect models! Hope to join you in the near future. Ivan

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Ivan,

      I can’t believe that it has been over a year since we were shooting in Tuscany. Happy days indeed and yes, I reshot the best of our locations and added a few new ones. Thank you for your compliments and I hope to see you very soon.

      Damien.

      Reply
  6. Peter Blackman

    I join the rest of the commentators in admiring your work Damian. Great images and your use of natural light instructive and very inspirational.
    In #21 I struggled to see any scatterflash effect on or around Mischkah. Would you explain what pattern you used please.
    On a practical note I could not see the whole of any image as they are so tall :-) Most of them at least 1200 pixels high with the tallest being 2400 pixels.I appreciate that folks have different size displays but when I publish images for others to view I cap them at 1000 pixels high so that they are convenient to view and fit on most screens. Something to consider perhaps?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Peter,

      Thank you for your kind words and observations :)

      In shot #21 Mischkah is sitting in a patch of light. I angled the flash so that a clear bit of the Scattergel was falling on her. I didn’t want the splodges to be on her, just on the scene behind her. I probably used the Shard gel as it has a clear zone.

      The Prophotonut website is optimised for smartphones and retina displays as the majority of my readers are using mobile devices. In portrait mode on a modern mobile device the vertical pictures look nice and nearly fill the frame, for instance a regular iPhone 14 is a whopping 2532 pixels high. On a 5k monitor the website is displayed well with any shape of browser window. If you are on a laptop just narrow your browser window to set a square or vertical aspect ratio and refresh the page. The website will automagically deliver the full experience. There are four sizes of my website to choose from.

      Kindest regards,

      Damien

      Reply
      • Peter Blackman

        Thanks for the explanations Damian on #21 and image sizes. I am clearly in the dinosaur category as I am viewing your blog on my “admin” desktop (I keep my photo editing PC quite separate from my admin PC which has all of the emails and other stuff in an effort to reduce my vulnerability to virus attacks). I opened #21 in a new tab and viewed it at full size and saw the “splodges” on the wall so all is now clear – what a lovely picture. Cheers Peter

        Reply
  7. Peter

    Love these. Great work as always by all :) Oh and I also remember Trumpton but I may well of been from the reruns as I am only in my mid 50s :) The book of the gold dress sounds intresting :)

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thanks Peter,

      I’m 58 so maybe we both remember the original Trumpton well but I got the date wrong. Anyway, thank you for the compliments,

      Damien.

      Reply
  8. Rodney London

    These shots are beautiful, you know when some people shoot black and white the light looks hard and too sharp, your shots show a softness and calmness to them as if they were colour, beautiful work.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Rodney, I know exactly what you mean about using punchy contrast to bring monochrome pictures to life. I love this calmer approach and it relies on having a lot of green in the mix when converting to black and white.

      Cheers, Damien

      Reply
    • Neo

      It would be nice, if there were more workshops…. Maybe, 2-3 days with 2 models… !?

      Several days for several thousand euros unfortunately not everyone can afford… And if, then the courses are also too quickly full…

      Reply
      • Damien

        Hi Neo,

        Thank you for your message. You raised important points.

        You are probably unaware of the hundreds of one and two-day low-cost workshops that I have organised and delivered over the past 12 years or so. I’ve run those in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne, New York, Singapore, Jakarta, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Prague, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Paris, Antwerp, Ghent, Amsterdam, Den Haag, Rotterdam, Fribourg, Basel, Cartegena, Cadiz, Valencia, Fuerteventura, Toulouse, Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dublin, Belfast, Milton Keynes, Taunton and London. The genres covered included wedding photography, Hollywood portraits, studio lighting, urban portraits, Lovegrove nudes, boudoir, and the business of social photography. I’ve certainly done my time putting on events where I have travelled to my customers and it was a great life for sure.

        A few years ago I upped my game and put on longer, more lavish events in places like Cuba and Cambodia. These events tick my boxes and I absolutely love them. My clients come from all over the world and that multicultural input generates a buzz. I am gladly semi-retired now and run two epic events each year. I no longer have staff so I keep my workload manageable and my events as wonderful as I can make them. Life is short and I have the opportunity to choose where I shoot and the experiences that I share with my clients. I arrange my workshops and adventures accordingly. My USA adventures are epic road trips delivering fabulous lifelong memories and friendships and my Italian workshops take in the finest food, wine and culture. Gone are the days when I’m shooting three budget workshops a week. It’s about life choices.

        Kindest regards,

        Damien

        Reply
  9. Graham Millett

    Once again just looking at your work gives me inspiration, the lighting is just wonderful. Absolutely top banana!

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Graham for the compliments. :)

      Kind regards,

      Damien

      Reply
  10. Ioannis

    Man oh man! You never cease to surprise me! GORGEOUS PHOTOS! Over and over again! Mischkah is a gorgeous woman already but you make her become a goddess!!! And your lighting… Leaves me speechless… WELL DONE DAMIEN!!! ❤️❤️

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Ioannis,

      Those are compliments indeed coming from you.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  11. Lawrence Scott

    Damien these portraits are so beautiful, I love the contrast in them and the ones with the sunglasses have that ‘Vogue’ feeling to them. I bought the Portrait PDF many years ago and the wedding day mastery book (in book form) and still love going back through them today.

    Hopefully you’ll bring a Portraits Continued book out with the newer images.

    Best wishes, Lawrence.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you, Lawrence,
      I’ll be working on a couple of new books this winter for sure.
      Best regards,
      Damien

      Reply
  12. Frank MacDonald

    Just beautiful work as usual Damien. This really needs to be another book. I still have the one with Cloe-Jasmin but you actually seem to get better with age. One can appreciate the effort and thought it takes to get these awesome images.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you, Frank for your wonderful comments. I’ll be working on new books this winter. I’ll need to employ a curator to work through my 21,000 personal images to pull together my best work. I feel someone elses input is vital in this regard.
      Kind regards, Damien

      Reply
  13. J Shetley

    These are so wonderful Damien. I am curious as to why you are shooting with the 50s. I thought you had upgraded to the 100s – no? Is it too much for portraits or something?

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi J,

      Thank you for the compliments.

      I bought my Fujifilm GFX50s six years ago and despite four newer GFX models being released by Fujifilm, my original camera is still the best camera for me. The law of diminishing returns has finally impacted the stills photography market. The latest generation of digital camera sensors and lenses are so good that any new models deliver minimal if any improvements in the image quality seen in print despite the marketing BS. 

      Having been on a path of replacing digital cameras with improved versions every three years or so I tested the mighty Fujifilm GFX100 when it first came out. I took it to Venice and put it through its paces. It was too heavy for my needs and I still preferred the pictures from my GFX50s. The 50s pictures just looked right straight from the camera. A couple of years later I tested the smaller GFX100s it was a pre-production model so I forgave its failings. I still wasn’t happy with the image quality produced preferring the output of my trusty GFX50s. I struggled with the 100s skin tones in post-production and there was too much detail in the centre of the image. Trust me, when you are shooting portraits, the last thing you need is more detail in the centre area of the frame. The 100s files at 100% do not flatter faces at all. The detail at the edge of the frame is the same for both the 50 and 100-megapixel sensor cameras as the GFX system is lens limited when the lenses are used wide open like I do.

      I was convinced that the IBIS in the GFX 50s mk2 would be a game-changer for me so I bought one. I’ve had to use a tripod for almost every shot that I’ve taken with my old GFX50s. In practice, every shot I took with the new mk2 needed straightening in post-production and in general I was not happy with my composition or working method at the taking stage. I also found the AF on the mk2 not as good as the original 50s despite the marketing claims. It just pumps in a fast but slightly annoying way. The focus also ‘missed’ on quite a few frames. Something I never seem to get with the 50s. I guess that might change with firmware updates in the future.

      For some reason, the 50s mk2 pictures are not as lovely as the original 50s. I find skin tones harder to get right with a tendency for both yellow and magenta tones to go a bit wild. Again, I don’t know why. So after 6000 frames of testing over two trips to Fuerteventura, I sold my 50s mk2 and I have reverted to using my 6-year-old GFX50s. Oh, and the tilting viewfinder of the GFX 50s is amazing. Something they decided to abandon on the newer camera models.

      I hope this helps,

      Damien :)

      Reply
  14. Karsten Schilling

    Wonderful set of photos. Again you show great mastery. Interesting to see that you have added the 80mm to your arsenal. The 250mm sure is a dream of mine. I guess the nude photos at the thermal spa were shot with the 250mm? All the best, Karsten

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Karsten,

      Thank you. The pictures that look like a thermal spa but are indeed a cool pool and styled with my smoke machine were shot with the GF 80mm at f/1.7
      Regards,

      Damien

      Reply
  15. Angi Wallace

    What a feast for the eyes. These are incredible. Your lighting is utterly divine, settings wonderful and talented models too. Its been a long time since Ive done portraiture but you have inspired me! Thank you

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you, Angi,
      I’m glad you are feeling inspired. Thanks for your compliments.
      Best wishes,
      Damien.

      Reply
  16. Melanie East

    Damien! Just absolutely breathtaking work. I can’t stop staring at these pictures. I keep coming back to them. The light, texture, beauty. Beyond perfection. Your clients must have been in total Heaven learning and will have acquired so many skills. Bravo.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Melanie,

      Thank you for those lovely compliments. They mean a lot to me.

      Best regards,
      Damien

      Reply
  17. Gary Powell

    Such beautiful work Damien. I recognise some of the locations and it took me back to the 2021 workshop.
    Two great models to work with and I am looking forward to our desert trip in May 2023.
    Just had to congratulate you all on the wonderful images you have created.
    I cannot recommend your workshops highly enough as they are a great learning experience.

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Gary,

      Thank you for the compliments. I’m really looking forward to our next adventure in the USA next May.

      Cheers, Damien.

      Reply
  18. Dave

    Wonderful images! They certainly stir the desire to take part in a workshop.

    Thanks for the tips & posting
    Dave

    Reply
    • Damien

      Hi Dave,
      Thank you.

      Cheers,
      Damien.

      Reply
  19. Didier Pattyn

    Love it… – such a great workshop in which i learned a great deal; thanks to you Damien and a wonderful team and new friends

    Reply
    • Damien

      Thank you Didier for your kind words. I look forward to our next adventure together in the USA next May.
      Damien.

      Reply

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