Little Eriond

I don’t do a lot of baby shoots.  In fact I have only done a few.  But I was doing one on the weekend and when it came time to feed the little gaffer I suggested a breastfeeding shot and the mother (Angeline) agreed that would be nice.

I know that one of the most memorable images in my own mind is my little boy breast feeding.  There is something just so natural and peaceful about such a scene.  Here, the composition is a little unorthodox.  I doubt many babies are fed this way, but it was how I envisioned the shot.  Of all of the shots of little Eriond, in his outfits, in his birthday suite, with and without his mommy, this is my favourite.

 

Eriond breast feeding

Eriond breast feeding

There is no frontal light in this image.  In fact, the studio “house lights” are off.  Two 1×4 foot softboxes are aimed at the very large white backdrop and two black flags protect the camera from too much bounce.  All of the frontal light is wrap around from the very large wall of white light about one foot or so behind Eriond and mommy.

 

Kinbaku-bi (緊縛美?), Shibari, bondage….whatever, it is beautiful.

One of the highlights of 2010 for me was being introduced to, and having the opportunity to work with, a local chap who professionally calls himself Lord Morpheous (http://www.lordmorpheous.com/).  “Morph” is a local boy who worked local farms and got pretty good at handling rope.  Those skills, combined with an obviously kinky mind, led him to develop a talent for what is often called Shibari, or more simply bondage.  But beautiful bondage.  Really beautiful.  He is now a well known sex educator, and is the author of a successful book:  How to be Kinky:  A Beginner’s Guide to BDSM, and is soon releasing his second book How to be Kinkier. The first book has done very well on Amazon.com where you can get a copy:  How to be Kinky.  It is also available at Indigo, Chapters, and at better kinky stores in Toronto.

The first time I met Morpheous he came to my studio and we did two kinds of images:  a suspension and a partial suspension of one of my favourite local models.  For the suspension, two of my heaviest studio stands were set up and a two-by-four was clamped between them so that Morpheous could  suspend the model (Elle, a.k.a Elle Kingsley on the naked news) as if in space.  Morpheous spent a great deal of time with Elle, being sure she was comfortable and safe at every step of the way.

As he prepared Elle, I set up my lighting and framed the shot.  I was looking for a “fine art” feel, and so had set up a black backdrop and two profoto 1×4 foot strip soft-boxes with the external diffuser removed.  This rim lighting is one of my favourite was to light the nude figure.  When Morpheous was done rigging Elle, he gave her a gentle spin and I captured as many images as I could for about five minutes before we gently brought Elle down.  One of my favourites, is what I call:  “I can’t come to the phone, I’m a little tied up”.

 

I can't come to the phone right now, I'm a little tied up.

 

Another great shot from that shoot is the partial suspension.  For this, Elle was placed on a table with similar lighting, though with a little more intensity.  The strop soft-boxes were brought a little closer to the camera position to provide more wrap around Elle’s body.   In addition, a widezoom reflector was placed behind the table and angled up to provide some pop to her hair blowing from a large studio fan.

 

Elle, I can't come to the phone right now, I'm a little tied up.... (II)

 

This was my first of two shoots with Morpheous, and I hope to have many more.  His art is incredible, he is very generous with his knowledge, and has worked well with me and my models.

If you like this post, let me know and I’ll follow up with my second Morpheous shoot with a fine Asian model at the Hazelton Hotel.

 

The making of a fine art nude

Back in the fall of 2010 I spent a weekend shooting lingerie, shibari and fine art nudes with four different models at the Hazelton Hotel.  Most of the shooting was done with a Phase One P65+ and Phase One DF with profoto strobes and a variety of light modifiers.  But a few days before the shoot, after a long wait, my Arca Swiss M-Monolith view camera arrived.  I just had to unpack it, set it up and give it a go.

Since a view camera is a slow, contemplative tool, it is not suited to shooting fashion, glamour, or most of what I was doing that weekend.  But shooting artistic nudes?  Sure, why not?  I set up the Arca in the living room and framed the camera on the doors to the balcony of the suite before the model arrived.  This gave me time to focus the camera and set up the framing.  When the model arrived, I merely showed her where I wanted to photograph her.

The model, (Erin), was a very experienced nude model, and is herself an artist.  She was perfect.  Not only was her body beautifully proportioned, she knew how to pose fabulously creating interesting lines within the frame.

The problem with the world is that the dynamic range (the range of light and shadows) can sometimes be far beyond the dynamic range of film or a digital sensor.  The P65+ I paired with the Arca Swiss has about as good a dynamic range as one can get now, but the scene I was capturing every time I pressed the cable release did extend beyond that which could be captured by a single exposure.   And given that it was my first shoot with the Arca, I had forgotten to bring a sync cable to use fill flash to balance the internal light with the more powerful sunlight coming through the balcony.  Consequently, the raw capture was exposed perfectly (or at least as I wanted it) for the model, missed the shadows inside the room, and was blown out in the highlights outside.

But, processing the raw files three times (as captured, pushed two stops, and pulled two stops) in Capture One Pro, layering the files and masking selected portions of each of the three layers reveals enough of the shadows inside the room, and retains the highlight detail outside.  Here is one of those shots, at pulled two stops, as shot, and pushed two stops.

Clearly, the image as captured was just fine, but not fine art; there are details in the shadows of the drapes that I wanted to recover, and the outside buildings are pretty blown out.  The image underexposed by two stops reveals the details in the buildings outside the room but blocks up the shadows in Erin’s body a bit too much for my liking.  And the image overexposed by two stops reveals the details in the drapes, while totally blowing out large areas of the background and balcony.

Layering these images, masking out the portions that are undesirable produces an image that I am pleased with:  the folds in the drapes are present but not distracting;  there is some detail in the background buildings above the steam; and Erin’s beautiful pose is the centrepiece.

Erin, artistic nude at the Hazelton Hotel. Arca Swiss M Monolith, Schneider Kreuznach Apo Digitar 72mm @ f8 for 0.5 seconds, P65+ digital back @ ISO 50; three layer TIFF files from a single capture to extend dynamic range.

Bodyscapes with one light – part 2 (the Fresnel)

The other one light setup I enjoy is the use of a single Fresnel. The fresnel I use is a Profoto “Fresnel Small”, which is merely a light modifier that I attach to an existing profoto head.  The Fresnel projects a clean and crisp beam of light that is similar to natural sunlight and the one I use has an iris so that I can adjust the width of the beam of light. While the Fresnel can be used to project a spot similar to a movie light, I like to use as a crisp beam that skims across a body.

In the two examples below the Fresnel is placed high and behind the subject.  In the first example, the Fresnel skims across my model’s back creating an abstract bodyscape with few clues as to the exact subject.  While the symmetry looks perfect, it was not so in the original capture.  Rather, I took the side I liked best and flipped it over to create that perfect symmetry.  In the second example, the model leans her head back and the light beam skims the front of her body.  While the pose is rather erotic, the controlled lighting leaves almost everything to the imagination.  There are only clues, and virtually no details.  Here there was no desire or need to go after perfect symmetry, so the image is basically what was captured with some contrast adjustment and a conversion to black and white.

I’m loving my Fresnel.

Bodyscapes with one light – part 1 (the strip light)

When I was a teenager my father had two lovely bodyscapes on his wall.  Each were black paint on metal.  The artist painted black where the shadows lay, and left metal where he saw light on two female figures.  They were wonderful, and I wanted them for myself, but he would not give them to me.  Now I make my own with light and shadow and models.

My favourite bodyscapes typically use just one light and of those, my favourite one light bodyscapes use a profoto 1×4 foot strip soft box, with the external diffuser removed.  If you place the strip light beside your subject, then some of the light will wrap around the subject.  Alternatively, a little mystery is created by placing the strip light slightly behind the subject so that the shadow side disappears into darkness.  In extreme cases, putting the strip light primarily behind the subject will just carve out the outline or “rim” of the subject’s body.

In the following examples, the lovely model Elle (Elle Kinglsey on the naked news) was lit with the strip only slightly behind her body.  Rather than move the light, I ask a model to step closer to me, or slightly away until I get the light I am looking for.  Here, we get a the most light on the outside edges of her body, and the light falls off into darkness as we approach the shadow side.  I love this effect.  It reminds me of those wonderful images my father had on his wall.