A Mermaid in Little Yosemite, with Honey Baby88

Model Honey Baby88 and I had talked earlier this year about doing a waterfall shoot with her mermaid outfit, but circumstances dictated that we really couldn't get together until summer.  While we were planning this shoot, we worked on trying to find a suitable waterfall that didn't involve a long hike.  After doing some research, we settled on a tiny waterfall in Little Yosemite, which is located in Sunol, CA.  It was about a 1.5 mile hike from where we parked to the actual shoot location.

One of the things I set out to do with this project was to shoot from the perspective of someone watching the mermaid.  So as much as possible, I shot from angles that an observer would take, and also made sure to have type of foreground interest, as if the observer were spying on the mermaid from above, or from behind a boulder or stone facade.

Thankfully the spots we wanted to shoot at had shading from the rocks, but the lighting conditions were very very challenging because as you can see from the first photo, the rocks are white, and this made the entire scene very very bright.  Thankfully, my X-T2 has a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/8000sec so I would have had no worries had we shot out in the open, although the first shot necessitated the need for a neutral density filter.  Read on to find out why.

ISO 250   56mm lens with ND8 B+W filter  f/1.2   1/60sec

One funny side note about the above photo is that it took Honey about 10 minutes to position herself on the rock because she had to climb over to it, and then balance herself in such a way that she didn't actually fall into the water!  Her mermaid costume was tight and restricted the movement of her legs above the knee.  She made it safely though!

You're probably wondering why the shutter speed is so low and why I used an ND8 filter.  I needed to get the shutter speed low enough that the water from the small waterfall looked milky and smooth.  A high shutter speed would have frozen the beads of water like the image below.

ISO 200  56mm lens   f/1.2   1/240sec

What I like most about the above shot is again, that sense of looking in on the mermaid while she's unaware.  Perhaps she's distracted by something else or just feels safe enough to let her guard down.

The next shot is my favorite, mostly because the black and white conversion brings out a lot of details in the image that might otherwise be lost in a splash of color.  Her fin and her mermaid body really stand out in this shot.

ISO 250   56mm lens   f/1.2   1/280sec

Of course, the final shot shows our mermaid taking full notice of who's watching her.  What happens next (to the watcher) is anyone's guess!

ISO 400   56mm lens   f/1.4   1/140sec

The above shot was actually the most difficult to achieve.  The water wasn't that deep, maybe about 1.5 feet at the most, so Honey not only had to get her eyes within an inch of the water's surface, but she also had to tilt her head up enough so that it looked like she was coming straight up out of the water.  It's not too noticeable, but the blue line just to the left of her head is actually her mermaid fin.

I used the 56mm f/1.2 prime lens exclusively for this shoot because it's just the perfect portrait lens.  Fuji glass is extremely sharp, though you can see that the shot with the ND8 filter isn't as sharp as it could be.  Not exactly sure why.  Perhaps the ND8 filter might need a thorough cleaning.

Gear used:  Fuji X-T2 with 56mm f/1.2 lens and B+W ND8 filter.