The light needs to match the scene. And, in the realm of fashion, it should also help create the feel of the picture. It needs to fit in with the surroundings and the time of day, complement the color palette of the wardrobe and match the projected mood of the model, be it exuberant, or sultry. Good things to remember on location, especially as unique a location as Peru. It was a place of wonderful color and a sense of adventure, perfectly matched to my assignment camera, the Nikon D810, with resolution to burn and a color response as vibrant as the culture I was photographing.
In the above pic, the available light is harsh. We were on a schedule. No room to come back for late light. Plus, later on, the pelicans wouldn’t be there. There were gaggles of them around the dock ’cause the fishing boats were coming in, and it was easy pickings.
So, go for it. No time to wait. Wilson, our intrepid driver, gathered a bucket of fish and stood off camera, expertly pitching them at the model’s feet. Fefa, our wondrous model, kept laughing and concentrating on camera, despite being surrounded by prehistoric birds that look like small versions of the ones people run away from in the movies. Jon Cospito, from our crew, is standing to camera left, behind a blue pillar, hand holding a Profoto B-1 at full power, and literally blasting Fefa with light in the same manner as the sun is doing. Shot on a D810 @f/13, ISO 100, @ 1/250th of a second, using a Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 zoom. I went with normal sync and a chunky f-stop as I wanted the birds to stay sharp as well. Great expressions from Fefa! Just add fish! Thank you Wilson!
However, at dawn of the previous day, the light was milky and mild. The scene was a deserted beach with an abandoned boat. The model was in an evening gown, and coiffed and made up like she was going to a fancy ball. Sumptuous color and the amazingly smokey look of the lovely Claudia ruled the scene. If I blasted this with a hard light, it would have been fair to have brought me up on charges and have a judge issue an order for me to stay away from flash for six months.
It was time for a B-1 into a 5′ Octa softbox, off to camera left. Smooth light. Mood light. The source was run up fairly high on an Avenger C-stand so it didn’t spill overmuch on the ground. Shot @f/9, ISO 100, @ 1/200th of a second.
It’s easy to get entranced when you have a wonderfully professional model such as Claudia giving you lovely expression after lovely expression. You can find yourself somewhat daft, clicking away endlessly and rapidly becoming rooted behind the camera, like a house plant. As good frame after good frame transports through your camera, it’s easy to relax and become static, mentally and physically. You got to move around.
The above was shot at the other end of the boat, with a Nikkor 200-500mm zoom lens, set @f/9, ISO 100, @ 1/200th of a second. Simplicity rules here. 5′ Octa now to camera right. Now you work with the compression of the long glass, as opposed to the wide sweep of sky and beach the 20mm lens rendered above. But in each instance it’s one light, one camera, one lens. (And, because the camera is a D810, lots and lots of pixels.)
Many thanks to LaCasa Films! Our production company was a hard working bunch who conjured locations, permits, hair, makeup and wardrobe! And to the beautiful duo of Claudia Maria, and Fefa! Super talented in front of the lens. And to our own shop, with Lynn and Annie holding down the fort back home, while Cali and Jon and I were wandering in the desert, literally. And to the folks at Nikon who gave us the green light and the wonderful tools needed to make these pictures happen.
Jeff Foley says
Love your lessons, Joe. Thanks for always being willing to share. I’m so glad I have had the opportunity to experience one of your workshops. (And that last shot is gorgeous. Love the feeling of motion to it.
Malcolm Kenworthy says
Thanks, Joe, for always taking the time to make these great blog posts. I love reading them, and have learned so much from them! I wish I had even a tenth of your skill and ability.
Christina Bennett says
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I have found incredibly interesting and the photos you have produced are sensational. I wish I could use light on location just half as well as you can
Really love your work! Awesome and inspiring! And you are right on the model! Working with good models really makes the shot!
tommy nikon says
Once again The Master, has spoken. No matter the subject or the ambient conditions, Master Joe hits it out of the park. Again.
Cooper Neill says
Great work as usual, Joe!
Bengt Lindkvist says
One got to move! Thanks for this simple tip
Mitchell Krog says
Excellent article showing that you work with the light and situation thrown at you and seize the opportunity. These images are stunningly beautiful considering the time of day. Well done indeed !!!
Giovanni Miele says
albeit working as a photographer in Milan ( Italy ) , aroused in me a healthy and constructive envy for the extraordinary quality expressed in your photo shoots .
really huge thumbs up for your shots
The two different perspectives with the boat are incredible. I love how the first one seems so distant and the next one has an imposing view of the boat. Incredible.
Cartomanzia Svizzera says
Wonderful pictures, I’m speechless, you are an artist, a real pro, they make me want to travel!