Abby Div - Patterns and Light

Abigail Div first contacted me in late summer 2017, asking if I wanted to collaborate with her on a shoot.  At that time, I had just gotten back into trail half marathons and had been busy tidying my mom's affairs after she passed away, so we ended up not having a chance to work together.  Flash forward to one year later and not only did we have a chance to work together, but our brief time shooting produced a powerful set of images!

ISO 200   16mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.4   1/4000sec

You'll see that with the exception of one shot, I stuck with the 16mm f/1.4 Fuji lens.  I needed that lens because I wanted to capture the width of the space around Abby, thus giving the photo some depth.

First off, let's meet Abby!  This next shot just happened to be while we were setting up the above shot.  I saw the light streaming in through the high window and how it was highlighting her hair, so I immediately slapped on my 56mm f/1.2 lens and took this natural light photo of her.  If you check out her website you'll see that she's a New York City-based model who also travels.  She's very professional and has a photographer's understanding of light, which made this collaboration a special pleasure!

ISO 200   56mm f/1.2 lens   f/1.4   1/100sec

This was my second time experimenting with three point lighting, the first being with visual artist Tere Casas a few weeks ago.  Though unlike the shoot with Tere, where I didn't tell her until the end of the shoot that I hadn't done three point lighting on my own until that day, I mentioned to Abby at the beginning that I was still trying to figure out and practice the technique.

This next shot shows the actual color of the carpet.  It's the carpet itself that actually got my attention.  I'll explain more about this shooting location later on.  But just like in the first photo, at least there's the illusion that the separation light behind Abby might be coming from the upper window behind her, when it's in fact a Godox TT685 flash on a small light stand directly behind her.  The key light to the left of the frame was provided by a Godox AD200 flash.  And there was one more fill light, another Godox TT685, on a Gorilla Pod to the right of the frame.  One reason I stick with Godox is because the flashes can do high speed sync up to 1/8000sec.  And as you can see, I'm using a high shutter speed in order to produce a cavernous effect like in the photo below.

ISO 200   16mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.4   1/8000sec

In the next two shots, I decided to do two contrasting temperature settings.  For the first one, I took the temperature up bit and also added some temperature to the window behind Abby to give the shot a warmer tone.  I was trying to give the impression that the space she was in was a lot warmer than normal.  The flashes to the left and right of the frame stayed in the same spot as the other shots.  And for the flash behind her, I simply took the flash off the lightstand and placed it on the floor.

ISO 200   16mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.4   1/8000sec

For this next shot, I decided to go with a colder feeling, and instead of hiding the background and making the room look cavernous, I opted instead to reveal parts of the background.  You can tell that it has an industrial look to it and I was hoping for a freezer-like feeling to this shot.

ISO 200   16mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.4   1/8000sec

The space we were shooting in is, in fact, an old fire station in Oakland, California that was built in 1909.  The fire department vacated the building and moved to a bigger one just across the street.  And the old fire station is being used by an engineering firm.

When we were discussing the shoot a few weeks earlier, Abby suggested that I use Peerspace to find an indoor location to shoot in.  After doing some searching, I ran across the firehouse and was immediately smitten by the large space and the carpet on the floor.  You can check out the actual listing on Peerspace here.  It's been used for meetings, conferences, and commercial shoots!  Once I saw the pattern on the carpet, I knew I had to shoot there!

This final shot is my favorite of the entire day.  Initially, the first photo of this blog entry was my favorite because when I quickly perused the photos after getting home from the shoot, that photo stood out right away.  But this last one really got my attention, especially with Abby's shadow in the background.  I wasn't expecting the shadow to be as defined as it was.  And using the B&W low contrast filter in Lightroom not only brought out the details of the shadow even more, but it also gives the photo a very dramatic punch that makes the scene all the more interesting.

ISO 200   16mm f/1.4 lens   f/1.4   1/8000sec

If there's one lesson though that I learned from this shoot, it's that at least for studio work, I need to get away from shooting with the aperture wide open.  I think a majority of the photos would have been much sharper had I shot at f/5.6 or even f/8.  That would have made things tack sharp I would have still be able to control the ambient light with the shutter.

Everything is a learning experience!  But there are two things I do know: I will definitely be shooting at this location again and look forward to working with Abby the next time she's in town!