Gothic Lolita

A while back, I posted on my Facebook page a link to a video covering 40 years of Gothic Style, which inspired on of my favorite cosplayers, Nerdenheim Jen, to make a Gothic Lolita outfit.  So last weekend, we went and shot it down at Scott’s Run.  You might not think being out in the middle of the woods is a place to do a Gothic Lolita shoot; abandoned mansion comes to mind. However, the use of an abandoned fireplace and props brought the shoot to life.  

For this shoot I used a Canon 70D, an 18-200mm lens, one 430 EX-IIIRT speed light, one 600 EX-RT speed light, radio trigger, lightstand,  painter’s pole with baby pin adapter, umbrella, foam skull, candelabra, and a tea-towel for the model to sit on.  My husband came with me on this shoot to act as my assistant.  His job was to hold the painter’s pole with a speedlight attached, so I could get the light angles correct for the three locations we shot and not worry about having to balance two light stands.

I took around 171 shots, edited 139, and posted 97 fully edited photos.  For all the photos, I was at an ISO of 200 using an aperture of F4.5. My focal length varied between 18mm and 35mm with 75 percent of the photos taken at 18mm.  My shutter speeds varied between 1/100s to 1/250s with the about 56 percent of the photos taken at 1/200s and 22 percent taken at 1/100s.  As you can see, I learned from the last shoot that I needed to up my shutter speed to be hand holding the camera.  I had my flashes set between 1/16 and 1/8 power depending on the lighting.  I do wish my camera could record the flash power settings in the .exf data for the images it would make reviewing them a lot easier and help with future shoots.  Though in reviewing the raw images, I had very few if any I threw out due to lighting issues, most shots I eliminated were due to blinking, odd posing, or the idea just not translating well into the image.

We shot in three locations at Scott’s Run:  the abandoned fireplace, the river stepping-stones, and on jagged rocks in the river bed itself.  We started with the abandoned fireplace location because it was at a top of a hill.  I always believe on working my way down when it comes to on-location shoots, because it is always easier to go down then up.  The fireplace is an interesting location, because you can lean a little towards the creepy side but still keep it cute. However, it was the use of the props that brought out the gothic feel of the location, while the poses and expression of the model told a story.  The second location was along the stepping-stones that are used to cross the river.  These photos stayed more on the cute side of Lolita. The third location was the jagged rocks in the riverbed that were accessible due to a low water level.  The props helped here, to give the photo some context, while the models expression brought the story behind the image to life.  I’m now going to discuss one of my favorite images from each of the three locations.

This first image was taken out on the jagged rocks in the riverbed. I like to call this image “I’m sad because it is sunny.”  Her pout and how she is holding the skull next to her face, as you might hold a kitty or stuffed animal next to you, makes the shot.   The main light was above her and to her left, the fill light was about 45 degrees off her right side.  All I did for editing for this shot was adjust the white balance to sunlight,  adjust the exposure a slightly, crop the image using the rule of thirds, and then added a little bit of vignetting.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

This second image shows you the fireplace, which was a reasonable size. I like this image because it is as if she is inviting you in, and the hand placement on the skull, makes it seem like the skull is a pet.   For this image the main light was up and to the models right, about 60 degrees off center and the fill light was to her left about 45 degrees off center.  I adjusted the white balance for this image first by adjusting it to sunlight, then warming it up a bit more to give it more a brown/orange cast. I found even thought this was a gothic shoot, which usually run to cooler tones; those cooler tones were not working due to the time of day we were shooting.  I did crop the image to ensure balance on both sides of the fireplace, and then added a bit of vignetting.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/200s, Focal Length 18mm

This third image was done on the stepping-stones; actually, they are concrete pillars you step on to cross the river.  This image captures the essence of Lolita cuteness whether it is classic Lolita or gothic Lolita. It also shows off the dress nicely.  The main light was above the model about 30 degrees off center to her right. The fill light was placed basically on the same line as the main light just lower.  I did not do a lot with this image; I adjusted the white balance, then cropped, and then finally added some vignetting to emphasize the model and the light cutting through the center of the image.  

ISO 200, Aperture 4.5, Shutter 1/100s, Focal Length 18mm

While I only discussed three images, I had a lot more than three favorites.  I basically could make a nice little story with the images from this shoot, showing a little gothic Lolita out for a walk with her pet skull and stopping by her favorite places.  While Jen is always great to work with, she was really super amazing during this shoot, providing just the right facial expressions and really interacting with props.  She made the setting and story come to life for these photos.  You can see the complete set of photos here


Popular Posts