I first got a taste of what it's like to photograph models through a Meet Up group that met in the sunflower fields of Dixon, CA to take pictures of models dressed in bohemian style. This time around, Marebeth Gromer, organizer of the "Shoot Or Go Home" Meet Up Group, set up a shoot at the Elliston Vineyards. It's a quaint little location in Sunol, CA, and quite idyllic as a wedding venue.
I packed my usual portrait gear: Fuji X-T1, 56mm f/1.2 lens, 23mm f/1.4 lens, and a few ND filters just in case I wanted to use my speedlight. The X-T1's shutter sync speed is 1/180 so with the expected brightness of the day, I needed to keep the shutter speed low. I kept the B+W ND8 filter on for the entire shoot.
Here's a photo of me taking a photo of one of the models.
Meet Hanna! I loved how she was leaning against the post, with a splash of green and white to her right.
No reflector or speedlight needed for this shot. There was enough light bouncing off of the ground to light up her face. I pushed the ISO way up for this one because I really wanted to brighten up the background. The ND filtered helped me shoot this one wide open.
Next, meet Marina! I worked with Marina once before at a shoot in Napa, but due to a few odd hiccups at the shoot location, I only got one good shot of her. This time around though, there was more time for me to get some lovely photographs of her.
Marina braved the grass, slightly unstable ground, and a few bugs so that a bunch of us could get this shot. Thanks for walking out there, Marina! A reflector was also used to bounce a little light her way.
And our third model was Kena!
I was amazed with how this shot turned out. Kena was working with two other photographers and I saw her strike this pose and then I saw just how much color was in the background, so I snapped this shot right away. The blue sky, the greens and browns behind her -- it looked like a painting! Perhaps I just have a love of unexpected surprises in the background.
The highlight of the day for me though was when pro photographer Larry Wong offered to show several of us photographers how to not only light a scene with a simple reflector, but also the steps to take from first posing the model and then lighting the scene.
As she was already in place, Larry helped us work with Marina first. I was never really organized when it came to setting up a shot -- I always just winged it -- but Larry taught us to first get the model into position, then get the lighting right. He just used a reflector and not a speed light, which I found really interesting, and he taught us to light from the top down. As you can see, the results were just absolutely stunning! The soft lighting, the shadows, and especially the pose and expression on Marina's face. There's just something about how Larry worked with her that drew out the photo of Marina that we were all looking for.
Next we worked with Kena. Larry had Kena sit/lean on a wooden railing and again he worked on her posing first and then we set up the lighting with the reflector. I found that I had a knack for handling the lighting, perhaps because I like the contrast between the dark and light shadows on subjects. I love the look on her face. Is she waiting for someone?
Next we worked with Hanna. I wanted to do a shot with the row of vines fading off into the background, though had I done it on my own, without Larry's help, the results wouldn't have been as interesting. I probably would have had Hanna stand somewhere in-between the two rows of vines, but Larry's suggestion of posing her against one of the posts was definitely much better! Not only did it show the vine rows fading off into the distance, but his posing recommendations added a lot more grace to Hanna's form.
It was a great day out there at Elliston Vineyards. I really enjoyed working with the three models and really appreciated Larry's wise advice. While the photos above were shot with the 56mm f/1.2, I also used the 23mm f/1.4 for a few other shots.
Many thanks again to Larry Wong for taking on the role of mentor at this event, and also to Marebeth Gromer for setting up a really fun shoot!
More photos from this photo shoot can be found in this Flickr Album.