By chance I stumbled upon a model who lives just down the road from me, well not literally on the same street, but certainly less than a very short car journey away. So I arranged a short 2 hour shoot to see how we got on, some of the edits from that shoot you can see below. Let me know your thoughts…
I’ve always been fascinated how light and water interact, especially with reflections and shadow play on moving and rippling water. Some people get mesmerised by staring into a fire in the same way I get visual pleasure by the play of light on top of the water as well as underneath it.
I was fortunate to hire a holiday villa for a week with my wife and I took along a model for the week to photograph them, so a sort of working holiday if you like. I’d recently purchased two Nikon D7000’s with prime lenses, which I’d be using primarily for video work, but also for some stills work. I thought that whilst in Spain with the super clear light, warmer weather and sunshine it would be too good an opportunity to miss to take some underwater images and video footage of the model. My first challenge was to find a waterproof housing unit, and here I didn’t want to spend thousands on a high-end camera casing as I’d no intention of taking up scuba diving again and taking the camera down into the depths. I did want to take advantage of the prime lenses and quality of the Nikon equipment but ensure it kept dry and safe to a depth of about 6 feet, which was the depth of the pool we had in the villa. After a bit of research I located the SLR Camera Case from Aquapac costing £95 : http://store.aquapac.net/slr-camera-case-458.html
This product is submersible to a depth of 15 feet for up to 30 minutes, both depth and duration were well above what I had in mind so I ordered one. When it arrived I fitted my Nikon into it and tested it out in the bath to make sure it was okay. Being small and soft-formed it was easy to pack along with all my other gear on the flight across to Spain.
In use, it took a while to get used to handling the camera through the rubberised bag, it was like wearing heavy duty gardening gloves, in the end I used manual focus, a good depth of field and set the exposure manually before each session so I only had to press the shutter button. Framing was also a bit hit and miss, I was wearing prescription swimming googles so I could actually see underwater, but meant that looking through the camera’s viewfinder was tricky. In the end I got to pointing the camera at the model and working from there. My first couple of attempts with this technique meant I chopped off limbs, heads and even missed the model completely! However, with constant review and practise I got better and better with framing the model in the shot.
During the course of the week we shot stills and video footage in the pool and reviewed it afterwards, by day four we were really getting on well and getting some good repeatable results. It it impossible to communicate with your model underwater and as she was swimming widths of the pool it meant I could take 1 or 2 shots per width. So before each width we would discuss the pose, the depth, the camera position to make sure we each knew what to do.
Below I’ve included a selection of the better stills from the sessions in the pool shot during the week. I shot about 1200 stills and ended up with about 10 that I’m happy with, so not a good success ratio that’s for sure. I’m still not sure whether I prefer the mono or colour versions best. What I do like very much indeed is the play of light on the model’s body, which was the main thing I was trying to capture with these images.
This Month’s issue of JADE magazine has been published with one of my images on the the Front Cover – looks great. Image it titled Face-Off and features Iveta as the model. Image it lit with three lights, two more than I usually use! They are all fitted with grids, two on the backdrop and one on the model.
Link to a larger PDF version: Jade 90 – May 2012 – john tisbury – cover
JADE Magazine can be found here: http://www.greatnorthernpublishing.co.uk/jade-magazine/jade-contents.html
I did a shoot with ERosanne recently, who is in the Third Trimester in her pregnancy and she wanted some erotic pregnant photographs taken. ERosanne is an experienced model who has many contacts and photographer friends, so when we discussed the type of shots she wanted, she mentioned she already had some typical pregnancy shots and wanted something a little more conceptual and erotic. In her words, ‘I have some lovely ‘mumsy’ type shots already and was looking for something a little different’. She mentioned that she wanted to do something with eggs and milk but had not turned those concepts into photographic ideas; her underlying concept was a woman is more than an egg carrier and milk producing machine.
How to turn concepts into photographs
Thankfully I had a couple of weeks to think about the shoot and turn those concepts into photographs. When faced with this problem I let the idea circulate around and look for connections in the props, in this case eggs and milk. There are obvious links to the fertilised egg and breast milk, lactating that sort of thing, but I wanted to tie the idea into a stronger theme.
I use my iPhone at lot at times like these, I create a new Note with the idea or theme as the heading and I jot things down as they come to me, often these ideas are triggered by other events, conversations or just by an idea popping in to my head. I guess subconsciously your brain is still working on the idea, even if you are focusing on something else. I do use brainstorming techniques, or ‘Thought Clouds’ as they are now know in these politically correct times we live in, I’ll cover brainstorming techniques in another blog article.
Over the following days I added a number of entries on the Notes app on my iPhone which I’ve reproduced (no pun intended) below. These are just random thoughts as they come into my head, the important thing is everything I think of in relation to the idea gets noted down no matter how obscure, obtuse or seemingly irrelevant it is.
Refining the ideas
When it gets nearer to the shoot date then I will review the list and decide which ideas to expand upon and remove the others. The ones I remove get moved to another Note which I use for a general ongoing list of thoughts and ideas, nothing gets deleted.
The final ideas list is arrived at by a deciding which ideas I want to shoot, which of those ideas will suit this model and will be enhanced by their posing ability, facial expressions, modelling levels, their own creativity and so on. The important point is that for each entry on the list above I have an idea of how I want to shoot it and light it. I think through the idea and consider what would look best. To help you to understand my thought process [best of luck] I’ve detailed the process on how I arrived at the Pregnancy Triptych show below.
The Pregnancy Triptych shots is derived from idea three on the list:
- holding eggs one side of tummy, baby in middle, bottle of milk
I wanted to depict the passage of time, the 9 months of pregnancy in a time-line which can be difficult to depict in a single shot, so the idea of two or more images came into my head. I could visualise the eggs in the model’s hand to start with as the first image, the early stage of pregnancy and the fertilisation of the egg. When we came to shoot the idea we also tried some shots with ERosanne holding a dildo in the same hand as the eggs, but that didn’t really look right as it tended to look like a dildo with a massive pair of testicles attached to it. I wanted to keep the first items of the idea on the left-hand side of the frame to help portray the passage of time across the frames, so didn’t want to use ERosanne’s left-hand for the dildo, so we settled on the glass of milk which depicted the change in the woman’s body and the start of milk generation. I understand that one of the earliest clues you’re pregnant is the woman’s tender, swollen breasts, caused by hormones surging through her body. Notice also that we started with two eggs in ERosanne’s hand and then swapped to a single egg for the remaining shots which is intended to show the percentage success rates involved with getting pregnant during ovulation.
In the next image I wanted to show the idea of the egg multiplying and we decided that breaking the egg was the best way to show this as it demonstrated the contents expanding and growing. I asked ERosanne to break the egg in her hand, but it proved rather more difficult, try it, it was quite difficult to crush an egg in your palm with one hand. In the end I pushed my thumbnail into the egg to crack the shell. We also tipped the milk glass more to show the build up of milk and the fact it was almost lactating.
In the end I settled on three images as I wanted the milk dribbling out of the glass on the final shot, so a Triptych it ended up as. The final shot was the egg was dripping more form ERosanne’s hand while she poured milk from the glass in her other hand. Notice too the slight change in hand position, the milk hand is higher, showing a higher milk yeild, whilst the egg hand is lower, showing the turning and dropping of the baby before birth. The last stage was to combine the three images into a single image which was done in Photoshop.
Finally, below is a gallery of the edited shots from that 2 hour session, note the gallery only shows two of the three images used
I set myself a little challenge the other day. I booked a model called Roxy whose maximum levels are implied nude. So armed with this information I wanted to see if I could still shoot around my normal style and still create some erotic, sensual and provocative images. I hope you’ll agree we managed to do this and we had a great session. Most of the images are taken using 1 or 2 Elinchrom softboxes fitted with soft egg crates from Lightools in Canada. Others were taken using ARRI 300 head with a fresnel lens fitted.
In June I ran another ever popular small group workshop, these sessions cater for a maximum of 4 delegates and are held in my studio. Our model for the day was KatyCee, who is a fabulous and experienced full-time model. Jill, my wife, looked after the catering side of things which she does with much panache and skill.
The session takes delegates through various lighting set-ups and styles with the aim to show different lighting setups but more importantly for the delegates to be able to re-create the setups next time they are in a studio or at home. For this session we also got the opportunity to use my new Lighttools Soft Egg Crates with their stretch frames http://www.lighttools.com/ which had just arrived from Canada. Below I’ve included some of my images from the session with an explanation of how each of them was lit and what equipment was used. Finally, I’ve added a gallery at the end of this post to showcase the images submitted by the delegates who attended the session.
1. KatyCee was lit by two 130cm x 50cm Elinchrom softboxes each fitted with Lighttools 30 degree soft egg crates. Powered by two 400BX Elinchrom heads. A very simple yet effective setup that gives pleasing shadows to add contouring, shape and form to Katy. The softlight from the softbox remains controllable due to the egg crates allowing you to control the direction of the light as well as spill.
2. The control you can get with the egg crates is superb, in the short time I’ve used them they have allowed me to review and re-appraise my lighting approach of how I light my subjects giving me more tools to light subjects with.
3. Another setup used the grey painted wall in my studio which we lit with Lee coloured gels. In the example below we used two lights set behind KatyCee, each fitted with a pink gel pointing at the grey wall. You can experiment with the fall off from the colour to grey and either increase of decrease the vignette effect by moving the lights closer or further away from the back wall, as well as changing the direct to which they are pointing. The main front light is a large Elinchrom softbox with a soft egg crate fitted.
4. This next setup uses the ARRI 300w continuous light which comes fitted with a fresnel lens (prouncouned fray-nel). The Fresnel lens was invented by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel originally for lighthouses. In the diagram below, the Fresnel lens 1. is compared to a conventional lens 2. For cinematography and photography the Fresnel lens provides a wonderful light that is very bright and focused but with a very soft-edged beam, so it’s often used as a wash light. In the making of motion pictures, or photography it’s also useful because of its ability to focus the beam brighter than a typical lens, but also because the light is a relatively consistent intensity across the entire width of the beam of light. I’ve provided a link to a short 5 minute science video on the differences between the two types of lens and the advantages of the Fresnel lens over a traditional lens for lighthouse application: http://vega.org.uk/video/programme/226
5. and 6. show a setup that I don’t use too often but does bring wonderful results for body landscapes and art nude. Two lights fitted with wide angle reflectors are positioned directed onto the white backdrop. They are adjusted to F9 – F11 but no more, we are shooting at F8 on the camera. Then around the model is placed black bounces they they bounce black onto the skin. It’s a simple setup and a similar approach is often used in commercial photography when photographing and lighting glassware or spectacles. It gives a black edge or rim to the glass making it stand out against the background. This setup can be a little more challenging to shoot and I often find it gives better results if you shoot tight and close-up rather than trying to go for a three-quarter or full-length shot.
A few comments from the delegates on this last session:
Thank you very much for yesterday’s course which I thoroughly enjoyed. Katie is a stunning model with loads of personality. Also thanks to your wife for an excellent lunch. David
I wanted to thank you for an awesome session at the weekend. …Although I was not as experienced as the other guys! I did, however, pick up loads of info to get me properly started in Studio photography so thank you so much for that! …and could you please pass on my thanks to Jill also for the wonderful food. Rik
It has been a week now since the workshop, it was a fantastic day and the knowledge and your advice has been slowly but surely filtering in, and still is. Thanks again for a tremendous day, I had a great shoot the next day thanks to the encouragement and enthusiasm I got from the day with a master. Look forward to working again with you one day in the future. Please convey my thanks and appreciation to your fabulous model. Roy
Gallery of images from the delegates attending the workshop, more to come as they edit and send them through to me.
Don’t you just love it when people pull together and everyone puts in some of their time and effort for the benefit of all involved. Well that’s exactly what happened last weekend when we did a collaboration shoot. One photographer, one make-up artist and hair stylist and two models. The session came about because Jo who I use for all my MUA and hair styling jobs wanted some new shots for her website. I suggested doing a collaboration session and asking a couple of models so we can all get some new shots for our portfolios and Jo gets some images she can use on her new website.
During the session one model was having their hair and make-up done whilst I was photographing the other one and that’s how it went on for the whole session. We ended up working our way through three different make-up and hair styling looks and about 5 different lighting setups. Below are pictures of our two models EmmaB and Roxyanna.
The shots below have been placed in the order that they were taken, so starting off with a light natural looking make-up and hair style, and then moving onto more of an evening make-up look and changing the hair style to add more volume and curls. Jo wanted all the shots to be photographed in a very similar style for her website, so apart from a couple, they have all been taken landscape format and very centrally placed in the frame.
I’ve just released a date for my next small group photography workshop at my studio, it’s on Saturday 21st May 2011.
These sessions are for up to 4 photographers allowing plenty of time for shooting, reviewing and getting to know everyone – as well as learning! Our model for the day will be Joceline Brook-Hamilton, one of the UK’s top full-time professional models. Joceline and I will be on hand to help you learn and ensure you get the most of the day.
The workshop details:
Saturday 21st May 2011
10.00am – 5.00pm
Professional model – Joceline Brooke-Hamilton
- Location, my studio, Rushden, Northamptonshire
Lunch & refreshments included
We will cover the following topics during the session:
- Studio flash
- Constant lighting
- Different Lighting setups
- Working with models
- Directing models
- Creative ideas
Review and set activities will form part of the day so ensure that when you leave you can put the things you’ve learnt into practise. Sessions are informal yet structured and allow time for questions and discussion.
Some of the equipment available to use is:
- Elinchrom studio flash heads x 6
- Broncolor ring flash x 1
- ARRI constant lighting heads x 5
- Broncolor Mobil 2 kit x 1
- Elinchrom 6 foot Octa Softbox x 1
- Elinchrom 5 foot Recta Softboxes x 2
- Flats, reflectors (various)
- Grids, barndoors (various)
- Umbrellas, snoots (various)
- Backdrop system and rolls
- Plenty of props, accessories and clothes
Below are some of my and delegate shots from previous workshops to give you an idea of the type of thing we will be shooting. The style covered during the session will be art-nude and erotic mainly, but we will be doing portraits too.
More details and how to reserve your place can be found on my website at the following page: http://www.johntisbury.co.uk/photography-workshops.htm
Below are some behind the scenes images taken during one of my previous sessions.
More details and how to reserve your place can be found on my website at the following page: http://www.johntisbury.co.uk/photography-workshops.htm
Rain Meant Edit Time
Whilst I was staying as a guest Lakeland Photographic Holidays in the Lake District in November a rather horrid Thursday morning consisting of torrential rain meant I had some unexpected spare time to do some edits, so I did some more edits from the shoot with Raphaella.
All the images were kit with a single Arri 300 watt constant light which has a fresnel lens fitted to it. They were all shot on manual at ISO 500, 1/100s, F2.8 on my Nikon D3 with a 24-70mm lens. White balance was set to 3200 Kelvin.
I shot one of my regular models today, LouiseSkye, we’ve been shooting since 2005 and get on really well. She is currently pregnant and wanted some shots to be able to look back on so we arranged a shoot in order to capture her beauty.
I also fancied the idea of doing some bondage with a pregnant model and Louise was up for it, we discussed safety and the fact that the bondage would be loosely tied so there was no strain on her boobs or tummy. Below are some of the shots from the session including the bondage shots.