Tuscany 2018 - Day One

I’ve been admiring the work of Damien Lovegrove for about four years now, basically ever since I got my first camera, the Canon 70D.  I’m now a Fuji shooter, currently with the Fuji X-H1 as my main camera.  I have to credit my going with Fuji to Damien, something which I told him when I met him in person during his lighting workshop in Tuscany.  The fact that I actually had a chance to train with him still resonates with me today.  How often does one get to meet one of the people who has inspired the bulk of their work?

What follows are some photos taken during the first day of Damien’s lighting workshop in Tuscany.  Our model was Terez Kocova, who Damien had worked with during one of his lighting workshops in Prague.  Terez is one of the most amazing models I’ve worked with.  While she’s not the first professional model I’ve worked with, she certainly is a standout.

Our journey began at an abandoned farmhouse near the medieval Italian city of Volterra.  It was probably about 80 degrees mid-morning and we did a small amount of driving and walking to get to our site.  But once there, magic started to happen.

These first set of shots we lit with the assistance of a Lupo Superpanel, although I did use the Acros-G black and white film simulation as I liked the look of that versus the color version.  While I’ve used speed lights, this was my first experience using continuous lighting.  The Lupo Superpanel is amazing bit of kit, and the beauty of its design is that the color temperature can be adjusted from warm to cold with the turn of the dial, so you can see instantaneous results.

ISO 200 - 56mm f/1.2 lens - f/1.2 - 1/1000 sec

ISO 200 - 56mm f/1.2 lens - f/1.2 - 1/500 sec

This next photo was purely natural light. I’ve always admired natural light and love to use it, but I didn’t know just how powerful of an effect it would have on photography when used correctly.

ISO 200 - 56mm f/1.2 lens - f/1.2 - 1/500 sec

What makes the above photo is - I think - Terez’s six pack abs. Initially those didn't show when I first looked at the shot in Lightroom, but decreasing the highlights just a little bit brought them out.

ISO 800 - 56mm f/1.2 lens - f/3.6 - 1/60 sec

You’ll notice that in the above shot, I’m actually getting away from shooting wide open at f/1.2 and instead opting for f/3.6 because I wanted to capture more details, not just of Terez, but also the texture of the stone surrounding her.

The light source is once again the Lupo Superpanel. While there is natural light streaming through the doorway in the background, it wasn’t actually enough to light Terez, other than perhaps providing a backlight and leaving her entirely in shadow. If you look at the shadow cast by her legs, you can see where the Lupo was positioned.

I was really amazed by Terez’s discipline at this point. There were seven of us photographers, plus Damien, and each of us took turns shooting, sometimes simultaneously and sometimes individually. And Terez held a lot of these poses for minutes on end!

ISO 1250 - 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 40.1mm - f/2.8 - 1/60 sec

When the above shot was taken, it was really dark in that space. There was just natural light streaming through a window and that was it! It’s in instances like this where the Fuji’s live view shines bright, no pun intended … maybe. Damien’s preference for this shot was black and white, but I really liked the texture on the wall behind Terez, and playing with the settings in Lightroom managed to bring out some colors on the wall itself. Just like the wall, Terez looks like part of a painting.

ISO 1250 - 16-55mm f/2.8 lens at 55mm - f/2.8 - 1/60 sec

The above shot was also taken using natural light. I was amazed at just how well the Fuji X-H1 was performing. Even in that low light situation, the camera’s dynamic range was able to produce a fairly crisp image!

We spent the morning at the abandoned villa, then returned to our base of operations for lunch. Afterwards, we did a quick shoot at the pool.

ISO 200 - 50-140mm f/2.8 lens at 75mm - f/2.8 - 1/8000 sec

ISO 200 - 50-140mm f/2.8 lens at 75mm - f/2.8 - 1/8000 sec

I don’t exactly remember why I was using my 50-140mm f/2.8 lens for the pool shoot.  This lens would be the equivalent of a 70-200mm lens for a full frame camera.  (And it weighed a ton in my backpack when I made the trip to Italy!  I had that lens, plus the 16-55mm, and three prime lenses, plus a whole bunch of other stuff in that backpack.)  I think initially for this shot we were all set up a bit far from Terez and had planned to photograph her from a distance.

The above shots were done with the Fuji Velvia film simulation which I then duplicated in Lightroom because we wanted the colors in this image, from the red dress to the blue sky and green hills, to pop out of the shot.

Next we moved indoors for some indoor beauty shots.

ISO 200 - 56mm f/1.2 lens - f/1.2 - 1/250 sec

This was just a very simple shot taken inside our actual villa as we were escaping the afternoon heat. All natural light, which was actually behind me, and yet it was enough to create this soft, lovely photo of Terez.

It was about an hour before dinner time when we wrapped up this portion of the shoot. It was supposed to be the last look of the day, but then Damien saw how the sun was setting over the olive trees and rallied us all together. Terez threw on the dress from earlier in the day and we rushed out to take a few shots.

This final shot was something that I’d always envisioned taking. For the past year, I’d had something in mind that I was calling “summer reading”, in which I saw a girl sitting on a bench or wooden structure, reading a book in the waning days of summer. Instead of getting that, I got something even better…

ISO 200 - 90mm f/2 lens - f/2 - 1/2000 sec

It has such a fairy tale quality to it. It was even better than I had ever envisioned! The color temperature was increased for this shot to give it that golden hue. That was done both in camera and also when post processing in Lightroom.

After I’d taken the above shot, I knew that this workshop was going to bear much more fruit that I had first imagined.

And that’s a wrap for Day One. It was an extremely productive day and Terez went through many looks. After the day’s shoot, we gathered at our villa’s patio to enjoy the final sunset and a home cooked meal under the stars of Tuscany.