7. mai 2014

The dark session with Lady Lunatic

This shoot was supposed to be posted and published some time ago, but due to unforeseen events, it was put on the back-burner, so unfortunately I never got to do that.
.....before now :)

Lady Lunatic (not her real name, off-course :) ), is a nice and interesting person that I met trough the Twilightmodels initiative in May 2013. It was during the duo-shoot I did with an Angels and demons theme, along Miss Nicky Namnam, that I got to know her.

In September the same year, we decided to do a separate for-fun shoot together, theme was a mix between steam-punk and other things.

The location chosen for this particular shoot, was an abandoned warehouse in the vicinity of my apartment at the time. Some scary warehouses indeed, very worn down (and very dirty as well, unfortunately).

During the summer, I had bought a Vagabond mini, which is a (very) portable battery-based power-souce for my studi-flashes. (before, I owned a Innovatronix Explorer battery, which was led-based and weigh 15 kg(!), it died on me pretty fast and was never very good, so.... )

Anyway, with the Vagabond in place, I decided to use two studoflashes (AB800) with umbrellas for the location shoot.

Miss Lunatic ( :) ) did her hair, makeup and clothes as I set up my lights and scouted for the initial "scene" for the shoot.

The intial shots, were of her wearing this elaborate dress, have loose hair and wearing a dust-mask (which I had painted a few days before).

Came out really nice.




Dark dancer


Wondering


Masked pose



I also made a couple of shots with an even more sinister look, like these:

"The devil within"

"In a dark place"



The walls are 'shopped' to look Silent Hill'ish, and I like the pose miss Lunatic strikes here.

Then it was clothes-changing time again, and the light was fading fast.....really fast!

Challenges:
As always with locations like this, the existing light is a problem even in the day. Usually these places are very dark to begin with. The time of the year we did the shoot at, dictated that the sun would set pretty early in the evening, and it did, so it got dark, really dark.

Pitch black, to be totally honest.

Solutions:
You can basically do a few things when you're trying to focus in the dark;
- Use a Nikon with the focus-strobe helper.
- Use a Canon speedlight and put a piece of cardboard in-front of the flash, so you utilize the focus helper strobe only.
- Use a flashlight to help you focus.
- Use the modeling lights on the studio-flashes.

I use Canon gear, and I didn't bring my speedlights so the first two options was out.
Using the modeling lights on the strobes would drain the battery on the Vagabond, so I was very reluctant to do that (it had gotten chilly as well, which affects the batteries even more).

-I did have a small LED-based flashlight though, so I used that to light up Miss Lunatic's nail-bra, because it reflected the light very well and gave good contrast for the focus, and then fired away.

I knew my studio-strobes were much stronger than the little flash-light, so any residual light from the flashlight would not affect the photos.

It was probably annoying for the model getting a sharp LED-light on her there in the dark though, but hopefully it wasn't too bad.


We used a steam-punk inspired gun, along with the most wicked costume I've seen to date, this gave some really awesome shots.
I simply love the licking pose here, proper psycho-killer woman ^^


Just take a look at these! ^_^


You don't want to be kicked by those shoes ^^

"Entering the room"

"Killing is fun"

The fly killa babe

Proper pilot goggles

The last shots by the door, were done using two studio-flashes (and a small flashlight to be able to focus at all in the dark ^^).

Miss Lunatic was really interesting to work with, no complaints, good inputs and off-course, a very lovely person.

Hope to see her in the studio some time soon, for more shoots, I promise better light conditions, a cleaner environment and also warmer temperatures :)


6. mars 2014

Fun beauty-funky-angle-session with Kristin S T


It is March already and I've been in the process of buying, moving and selling apartments.
Not much time for shoots, even less time for post-processing. It's mind-boggling how much crap one can manage to accumulate in 14 years. :)

Just before I started the process of looking for a new apartment, I had the last ever shoot in my old apartment, gracefully starred by Kristin S T.
- It was literally "shoot", then "start packing for the big move and go look for a new place to live".

Really a lovely shot, the fan lifts the hair and the eyes really drags you into the shot.


Luckily she is very a patient and calm person, so there was no nagging or bothering to get the photos as time progressed, she had a great understanding for my rather messy situation in December, January and February ^^

- I did try and finish a batch or two and send over now and then when I had the opportunity, so basically the delivery was more spread out, rather than a loooooong pause and then a huge batch of photos in her lap.

Movements in the fabric creates a dynamic feel. Hair also looks kind of classy, being set up in the back.



This was basically a two-part shoot, where the first part, was a normal beauty-shoot on white background and the second one was a more sexy/edgy shoot with funky angles, cool perspectives and more varied attitudes and expressions, also set on a white background.

"Oops! The fan is going crazy!"  =D

This is the third collaboration with Kristin and I like how the communication goes, how the idea's are developed and off-course, I also really like the final results as well. I also enjoy the exploration part of pushing the envelope together and the widening of the repertoire in posing, expressions and styles.


I did a few shots which I planned for a total background replacement, I wanted the contrast of a  beautiful, blonde model in a nice dress, put in a dark setting, wearing a gas-mask and holding a flower, like on a date.....well, sort of.  :)

Fancy a date? I


Fancy a date? II


Doing the angled-styles is always a challenge, because the model and photographer need to stand uncomfortably close to each other.

I would think that this is a challenge for the model, particularly because; Not only does she have this weirdo with a camera in her face, but she also needs to be very/extra expressive and have a "in your face" kind of attitude at the same time.

Tough combination.... ^_^

However..... \o/

Fancy dance move ^^

"Selfie"

"Mobile selfie"

Examination

So cool


Love it! ^^

Some challenges with this style, is that it is a fine line between too much and too little. It is very easy to end up with tacky shots, strange shots, unflattering shots, hilarious shots and downright pervy ones. All this has to be avoided off-course, to end up with mostly stylish, sexy and cool shots.

Having that in mind, and at the same time almost breaking the model's own sphere of intimacy, there is the ever present challenge of getting the whole model (fingers and toes included!) IN the shot. It is a very dynamic setting with lots of movements usually (both the camera and the model), so making sure everything is in the frame and in focus is hard.

Shoe study

Stretch
Some times I shoot from a squatting/lying position, so the whole body may scream "HEY! What the hell are you doing to me and my poor back, legs, arms, neck and feet?!?". =D

But, it's fun as hell! ^^
- No really, it is, results are worth the awkward shooting positions as well. :)

Besides, it mixes things up and creates a more varied set.
Straight-on shots are nice, but creating the mix of perspective and angles, is a good way to create something more than that.

Kiss-kiss!


What now?

Love these two, in particular the first one :)

It's a learning experience in photo-techical aspects, because finding the right wide focal-length is a little hard, finding the proper angles can be a bit hard and the choice of aperture and where to focus, plays a huge role in the final outcome. Thus, it adds up to be a great challenge ^^

Seriously now....!


Very cool and fun shoot with Kristin, was interesting to see the spectrum from the super-cute to the more hard and edgy styles. Be sure to check out her page on facebook.

I am really looking forward to further collaborations in the future. ^^


 And snip-snap and snoot, that adventure was oot, see you next time! ^^





16. desember 2013

Digital infrared mystifications


Glowing tree
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L
After checking out the film-based infrared universe in Infrared - Shooting what you can't see  and Infrared - Shooting what you can't see part II, revelations , I felt it was time to look into what the digital realm had to offer concerning this.

I've known about digital IR for quite a few years already, the issue with it, is that you will have to convert (ruin) a perfectly happy digital camera at places like http://www.lifepixel.com/ .

Earlier, my thoughts were that I needed a really good camera for this (meaning good ISO performance, 16+ megapixels, low noise, good resolution, full size sensor), but back then, such a "really good camera" did cost an arm and a leg.

- I know, I bought the 1ds mk II, and I sure wasn't ready to "ruin" that one  :P




So, it was put on hold, until this fall.





These days, the entry-level cameras from Canon (or Nikon), have reached some staggering specs, even with the 1.6x cropped sensors; Resolution is high, the pixel-count is more than you need for most work, ISO performance is phenomenal, compared to what you would get only 5 years ago.

(I have Canon-glass, so no point looking at another brand)

So, basically I found, and bought, a used Canon 550D, 18 megapixel "toy camera", which was already converted by Lifepixel.
I got a good deal on it, all things considered. A new camera, would had to be bought, shipped, converted and shipped back -with the added expenses.

Cold desire
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L
The camera I have is a "standard IR" camera. IMO I could probably be better off with a enhanced IR or a full-spectrum one, since they give better separation in the color-channels, this makes the IR-processing much easier and more versatile.

But as a starter-camera, this one is great! =)

The next shot, was altered to look like the old Kodak EIR film, this film gave foliage a red color.

Kodak EIR-interpretation
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L


I had two whole trips (wow) before the Autumn sat in, so I need to use it some more and perfect the conversion techniques next summer ^^

Windblown
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L

The conversion process, is "fluent", meaning, I don't have a set technique yet. It is a creative decision, depending on the shot I am working at, which way the pendulum swings.
Because the camera is standard IR, the separation in the channels  can be tough to work with, and there is always a danger of ending up with a completely two-tone shot.

Hopefully, next summer, with all the leaves, flowers etc, there will be more "colors" to work with.


A River between
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L

 The last shot is my favorite, here I've used a mix of Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, to create something cool, I like how the sky "crawls" over the trees and the straws, partly in focus, mimic the shape of the tree-line in the background.

Coming storm
Canon 550D IR, Canon 24-105 F4 L

My feeble first attempts hasn't really shown me how the light quality, time of day and time of the year influence the color spectrum yet.

It is very cool to shoot with this camera, as you don't need a filter on your lens, You just shoot normally - and at just about normal speeds as well and check the preview screen.

I can even film in Infrared ^^

I haven't tried that yet though, as I haven't found a suitable video-editing program, where I can alter the color channels like I do in Photoshop.

21. november 2013

Solution to Google+ messing with your photos

I want to inform about a problem that was annoying the hell out of me for a while, and that affects everyone creating entries on Blogspot, uploads photos to Picasa and/or use Google+.

Thankfully, I finally found a solution.

Problem description: 


A few weeks back, I was about to publish a new blog-entry about digital infrared photography, along with a little selection of photos.

After I had made the initial draft, I uploaded the photos to my blog and did a preview.
All the photos on blogger had the wrong color, strange color cast or had f*cked up contrast!
In addition, the photos also had pixelation-effects in gradient-tones (like a sky, which goes from dark to light), creating a ugly bloddy mess of my shots!

I literally HATE auto ANYTNING, that does some FUBAR "Best guess" alteration of the photos I've created. The shots I post, is supposed to look like they do, bloddy useless G+ invention!

Even linking my shots from my flickr page messed things up, as soon as I inserted the option to show "large" versions of the shots on the blog.
- Blogger then, probably, makes it's own cached version of some processed version of the photos.

It can be hard to pinpoint if the problem was with blogger, picasa or google+, as these services are intertwined and shared these days.
At the time, Google didn't really came up with any solutions....so I halted the blogposts for a while and decided to wait.


Google+ "optimized" hack
Original, as it was meant to appear





Google+ "optimized" hack
Original, as it was meant to appear


On the last blog-entry, the Mermaid-shoot last week, I saw that the photos got altered and messed with, just as with the infrared photos. So I googled harder, and found this thread.

During the discussion, a final solution to problems with photo-quality, uploaded to blogger, was presented.

The reason photos gets ruined when you upload them to blogger these days, is the Google+ auto-enhancing feature. This service was launched a few weeks back and is ON by default for EVERYONE.

The fix is to shut it bloddy off, and you do it the following way:

- Go to your Google+ homepage (you may not be there very often, but try to find your way there, the  "+" and a <name> link and can be seen on the top-bar on Gmail, for example).
- Click on the left menu on your G+ profile page saying "home", so that it expands.
- Select "Settings".
- Scroll down to the section on the new page, called "Photos"
- Select "Off" under "Auto Enhance"

See below
If Google+ has managed to f*ck up a lot of your photos already, you can click the "Learn more" link, to remove the "Enhancements" on whole albums, here is the help dialog on how to do that:

Snap, crackle and pop!
...and that's it for this blog-entry ^^


For automated webcrawlers (please ignore if you are human):
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blogspot blogger google+ Auto enhancing photos suck Donkey Kong's hairy nuts :)








19. november 2013

The Mermaid

In mid July, I went to Hvaler to shoot and stumbled over a genuine mermaid, resting on the rocks.

Seriously....! Look!


Mermaid
Model: Lene W
Canon 5d mk III
Canon 24-105 F4 L
Circular polarizer
=)

Kidding aside; I went to Hvaler with Lene W, to have a mermaid-themed shoot, as she had a 32 pound(!) mermaid-tail in her possession. I got to know her trough our workshops at studio B-17 earlier in the summer. This shoot, was a fun-shoot we did outside of the workshops.

Hvaler is a good drive from Oslo, but time was good, as I wanted to shoot at around sunset and in the summer, the sunset is very late in the evenings. I knew the lower light-levels would help me get some moody blurring of the moving water around the model.

The weather was "ok"; Overcast, a little windy, but not particularly cold. The water was also warm enough, so I was able to wade out and shoot quite comfortably, while being up to my thighs in sea-water.

- Naturally I was pretty paranoid about my equipment, moving slowly and taking great care not to slip and fall.

Mermaid
Model: Lene W
Canon 5d mk III
Canon 24-105 F4 L
Circular polarizer
I found out that my speed-lights were greatly underpowered in these conditions too; I planned the shoot like I would shoot my typical land/sea-scape photos, meaning that I used a small aperture (f16) low ISO (50-100), a polarizing filter (which takes away 2 stops alone) and a remote trigger for the camera.

The speed-lights were placed on dry land, a few meters away from the model, and was meant to accentuate her mostly from the side, simulating a low, under-the-clouds horizon-sun.

Alas though, the speed-lights, even on full setting, almost didn't make any impact on the shots at all. :)

Still, it was enough to create some shaping under the very diffused light in the general scene.

- I have since bought the Vagabond mini battery pack from Paul C Buff, which will enable me to use my Alien Bees on location instead, they would have been more than enough in a situation like this.

Mermaid
Model: Lene W
Canon 5d mk III
Canon 24-105 F4 L
Circular polarizer


This was a challenge for me as well as the model. The greatest challenge for the model, was that she had to keep totally still for 2-6 seconds, depending on the fading light. I really wanted the blurring from the moving water in the shots, without it, I think the shots would have had much less impact and mystique.

This may have been a bit difficult for the model though, so we didn't get all that many keepers in the end, unfortunately. No wonder, sitting almost naked on a small rock while the wind did it's magic, isn't exactly a comfortable situation.  ^^

However, the shots that were good technically, were also very nice overall imo.
So all in all, we ended up with a few good shots and some that were acceptable regarding technical quality.

Great experience, I would really like to experiment more, using this concept next summer.
- Finding a model, willing to freeze her butt off, can be a challenge though :)

In other news; I am currently looking for a new apartment in Oslo, planning to have a new place before Christmas. In that respect, studio-shoots will be halted until further notice, hopefully I will find a place which allow me to shoot at home, like I do now. (but you never know!).

Crossing fingers :)

Regards ^^

24. september 2013

Infrared - Shooting what you can't see part II, revelations

Since my last post in 2012, about infrared photography, Fotokemika has ceased to exist as a film and paper-producer, this means that EFKE AURA/Non AURA and a whole bunch of cool EFKE (and also ADOX) films has disappeared from the shelves.

The problem wasn't that they didn't sell films, but mostly from competition, price-pressure, raw-material prices and a dispute over land-areas where they had their factory.

This is very sad and leaves us with only one film as a real IR offer today, namely, the excellent Rollei 400 IR.

-


My previous shots, last year, like this one...


Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 12, 9 minutes in HC-110 dilution B


...were great, but even these were actually pretty hard to print properly, as the shadows and mid-tones, soon got too black and the whites stayed too white. Extensive dodging and burning was required for a satisfying print.

Bear in mind that this particular one, was shot with a high-altitude haze layer, which helped diffuse the light a little, a direct, "unfiltered" sun, would create even higher contrast and a good print would be increasingly more difficult to make.

I was out and about shooting with it in August and now in September, and I found that my earlier attempts, last year, at ISO 12, still gave pretty good results at 9 minutes in HC-110 B.

Like these horses:

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 12, 9 minutes in HC-110 dilution B
However: Upon inspecting the negatives of the horses, I found that they lacked shadow detail and the highlights were pretty hot/blown when the sun was shining from a clear sky.

In short, the negatives showed excess contrast.

So, back to the think-tank a little then.....

I was pondering over a week or so. First, pondering if I should shoot the film at EI24, to prevent the highlights from blowing out. This would cause underexposure of the middle/shadows and they will be very hard to recover during printing. This would also probably cause the negatives to be too thin, causing very short printing times, which, in turn, would create problems controlling dodging and burning.

But.....what about an increase in exposure?
If I increased exposure with 1 stop and shot the film at ISO 6 instead, the shadows should have detail. A proper development for ISO 6, would yield a normal negative as well.


"Yeah, but what about your highlights? They were already at the limit at ISO 12, at ISO 6, they would be blown for sure" you may say.....

True....

However.....

By researching a proper development-time for ISO6 from my working ISO 12 times, I could also establish an additional reduction-time, to prevent the highlights from blowing out.


HAH!

This is called "pulling" (film....!).

In this case. I was, in other words, interested in shooting and develop the film as ISO 6, with an additional 1 stop pull processing. This 1 stop pull would serve as a starter, to see where I landed, regarding the highlights, this is also called N-1 development.

This is where some of the beauty of shooting film lies IMO; The ability to separately control your shadows and your highlights trough exposure and trough development. (Yey! \o/ ).



You can't really to that with digital, you get what you get. But the sensors and cameras, usually are impressively versatile in keeping information and contrast under control.

The current RAW processing tools, are also very very good in helping you recover lost shadows and highlights after the fact with digital, by simulating information in a "broken channel" by utilizing data from intact channels..

....but anyway, I digress.....


During film development processing, the shadows always finish FIRST, after that, the highlights keep on getting denser and denser, until they block up. After the initial development, the shadow part (mostly from  zone 3 and below) hardly move at all for the remainder of the time.

You can simplify the thought, by comparing it to a sun-burn; The areas of your skin which was covered by clothing or other light protective materials, would maybe just get some color, but your unprotected areas, initially looking pretty normal, will keep on getting redder and redder as the evening moves on.


- This means, as one would already know, that longer development time (or more agitation during development, as this moves fresh developer into exposed areas of the film) increase the contrast.
Most zones from zone IV and onwards, will keep on moving up towards white, while zones I, II and III more or less stay put.

- This also means that if you develop LESS, you reduce the overall contrast of the negative, as you prevent the lighter tones from moving too far.

- This also means that, by using methods like stand development (little or no agitation), you can maximize shadow-detail while preventing the whites from blocking up too badly.

This explains how agitation influence contrast: Because highlight-areas on a negative, tend to "use up" the developer in that area faster than the shadow areas, if you don't agitate and bring in fresh developer to those areas, activity tend to grind to a halt. If you agitate like a crazy-person, the highlights will block very fast and you end up with some high-contrast....thing.

Now, back to the IR film.
Concluding with the above film 1-on-1 theory; By increasing the exposure, rating the film as ISO 6 instead of 12, and then reducing the development time by one additional stop from the ISO 6 time, - and agitate the film gently.
- I should be able to get BOTH my shadows and also my highlights where I wanted them!

My ISO 6 time was calculated as an average rule-of-thumb, 20% reduction from my 9 minute ISO 12 time.
After that, I reduced the time again by around 20%, to see what time the N-1 development would be.

Answer; 5.7 minutes, which I rounded up to 6 minutes and using the same, gentle, agitation scheme as the ISO 12 development.

I tried that on a low-angle sun, setting over a farm landscape on a Sunday evening. The scene proved to have several good "problem areas";
- White, sun-lit "tractor-eggs"
- Shadows on the sloping hills
- IR-reflected light from the trees and foliage.
- A person in the scene (this time, I used myself as a model :P ), where the facial features needed to be visible and not blown.


Result?

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B


Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Rollei 400IR
Mamiya RZ 67 Pro II with Hoya R72 filter
EI 6, 6 minutes in HC-110 dilution B

Awesome success! (imo)
Negatives look very nice, the blue sky will graduate towards black (neg thin/transparent), shadows are thin'ish but have detail, a few blocked-up areas on the tractor-eggs (to be expected).

I have detail in my face on the self-portrait shot and the strange IR-effect on the trees and foliage is present, complete with shadow detail where the sun-light isn't really hitting foliage directly.

So, my new scheme now for Rollei 400IR, is rate it at ISO 6 with a Hoya r72 filter, in HC-110 dilution B, then dev for 6 minutes, one minute gentle inversion of the tank, then 2 slow and gentle inversions every minute.

- 6 minutes is short, so additional experimentation will probably require a starting-point at 12 minutes, using HC-110 dilution H (which is half the strength of B). This dilution will have more room for fine-tuning the process even more.

The chlorophyll is starting to leave the foliage now, and the foliage the trees, as Autumn is setting in, so the wood-effect is diminishing pretty soon.

So, next summer, I will try my new times even more and at various times of the day, to see if it is solid. I suspect that it will be more solid than ISO 12 at 9 minutes, time will tell. ^^

In the next entry, I will continue my publication of completed model-shoots. ^^

That's it for this entry, may Google be with you :)

12. september 2013

Creative with Chris

In the beginning of May, Chris S. contacted me with a bunch of cool ideas.
Her head is always full of corny and funny ideas, perfect for having a varied and interesting shoot. ^^

This time, we settled upon creating several "types".

The gold-digger, seemingly inspired by La Chapelle's inzane world of fancy, was a fun one.


"Gold-digger"
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Four-light setup

The Gold-digger shot, came out really great, the MUA-job was colorful and lovely.
- Chris S is a MUA.
The blonde hair, along with the make-up, the fancy expression, provocative cleavage and the strong color in the red walled and the straw, really supported the "sucker for money" theme.

I was a little short of 100 dollar-bills, so 1000 yen-bills would have to suffice.(wish I had a bunch of hyper-inflated Zimbabwean hundred million dollar bills hahaha! )

I replaced the background in post, to create a little high-class-society/casino look to the shot.


We also did some classic beauty-shots where she was wearing a cool, bob-shaped wig.
Imo this shows of Chris's lovely facial features well.
I used a simple beauty-light setup for this, funny seeing her in that bob, very unusual, as I only know her as a long-haired blonde/brunette girl in most settings.  ^^


Classy feather showgirl
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Two-light beauty setup

"Vogue it"
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Two-light beauty setup



The next shots, were created as point-your-nose criticism on the Barbie culture and how it is impossible for most normal human women to live up to the "ideal" plastic-"beauty idea". Chris got hold of a really Barbie-looking wig for the occation. We also used oils to create a real plasticy feel to the skin, which was also enhanced later.


"Barbie crisis"
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Four-light setup



"Good enough?"
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Four-light setup


Finally, we also did a tasteful B&W nudes series. Here we used an all white mask on some of the shots, which created a little mystical/theatrical feel

Triangle figurine
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Two-light setup

Shadow lady
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Two-light setup

A real and true smile ^^
Canon 5D mark III with Canon 24-105 F4 L
Two-light beauty setup


The nudes are a challenge, because you strive to make them as good as you can, and at the same time, the model needs to be comfortable. Getting the final results as close as possible to the models own inspirational idea, is imperative for most of the types of projects I do.



Very fun shoot with miss Chris S, hope to collaborate again in the near future. ^^