Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Queen of the Corn

On January 20, I did a lovely sunset shoot with Vida Muerta in a field of Concrete Corn in Dublin Ohio.  The field contains 109 ears of corn that are about 6 to 8 feet tall and are tribute to Sam Frantz the inventor of hybrid corn.  It is a very interesting field and in my opinion a great place for an artistic/editorial photo shoot.  The theme for this shoot started out as a noble unseelie fay crossed with Game of Thrones due to the shoot being in winter and the cold industrialized feel of the concreate corn.   To obtain the look, I rented a parachute dress and Vida Muerta enhanced the dress based on my mood board with horns; a flower crown; elf ears from AradaniStudios - Elf Ears, Costumes, and More; a staff from Nebuleux, LTD - FatedFires Collection (Dr. Dee); a corset from The Violet Vixen, boots from Son of Sandlar, and a lovely Russian fox pelt from the Lost Viking Hoard. All these items together with the make up and hair artistry provided by Katie McNabb created the look, I like to call “Queen of the Corn.”

For this shoot, I used my Canon 70D, my trusty 18-200mm lens, one 430 EX–IIIRT, one 600 EX-RT speed light, radio trigger, light stand, painters pole, and a basic shoot through umbrella.  I also had a 3-foot ladder for my model to stand on to give her height compared to the corn.  My husband, who is my trusty assistant, held the 600 EX-RT speed light on the painter’s pole to get height. The speed light on the painter’s pole was zoomed to about 105mm and used as the main light.   I mounted the other flash, which was zoomed to 24mm, on the light stand with the umbrella to act as the fill light. I did push both flashes hard, because I was fighting the setting sun, which was behind my model for most of the shots.  I took 129 photos, edited 94 photos, and posted 53 fully edited shots.  Thus, I had a return of approximately 41 percent, which is about average for my shoots. For all the shots, I was at an ISO of 100. I was using an aperture between f9 and f4.5, with 84 percent of the photos taken at an aperture of f5 or f7.1.  My focal length ranged from 18mm to 70mm.  I was pleasantly surprised with this shoot, because I did not favor a particular focal length and my shots were evenly spread across the focal range. The shutter speeds varied widely from 1/160s to 1/1250s with the about 42 percent of the photos taken at 1/320s or 1/400s.  The real challenge of this shoot was the fast-changing lighting conditions as the sun started to set behind the trees and balancing the light on the model with the sun setting behind her. 

There are three photos that I like from the shoot that appear to tell a story.  This first one is bold, and shows the noble and strong character.  I like this one because of how the sun is falling behind the model.  I lit this shot by placing both lights to my right, with the main light trained on her face. I also adjusted my camera settings so that most of the background would be in shadow or silhouetted by the sun. When editing I made sure to keep the golden color coming from the sun, and used ‘shadow’ as the starting white balance level when editing in Lightroom.  Also, I did some additional post editing in photoshop to give the photo a bit of a glow.

ISO 100, Aperture f/5, Shutter 1/1000s, Focal Length 70mm 

This second photo I like because it is soft, and appears like she is beckoning something or someone forward.  The lights for this photo were placed in two locations, the main light directly in front and above the model and the second to my right.  Again, I kept most of the background in the shadows and kept the soft golden color by using the ‘shadow’ setting as my white balance starting point in Lightroom.  I also edited this photo in Photoshop by using a modified orton effect, to give it a softer feel.

ISO 100, Aperture f/7.1, Shutter 1/320s, Focal Length 18mm 

I like this final photo because it exudes power and confidence.  This final photo was taken as the sun was sinking lower in the sky, close to actual sunset and heading into blue hour.  The sun was also placed behind me, with the flashes placed slightly off center of the front of the model.  I did not modify this photo much, just balanced the lighting and ensured the models face was properly lit and had a bit of glow to it.

ISO 100, Aperture f/5, Shutter 1/400s, Focal Length 60mm 

I like the concept of this shoot and got several good photos, but believe I could have done it better.  I would like to redo the shoot in the spring or summer when it is warmer.  The reason for redoing the shoot is to take more advantage of the dress, which is a parachute material and can easily blow in the wind, without having the model freeze. I also think the shoot could be improved by having a second model act as subject of the “Queen.”  Also, I just feel I could do it better, now that I’m more familiar with the location and how the sun filters through the trees.  Additionally, I am realizing when working with the large parachute dresses I need a second assistant that would handle the dress and to things like tossing and fluffing it. But overall, the shoot went well, and the photos represent the concept I had in my head. You can see the full set of photos here: Queen of the Corn.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Photography Goals for 2018

I’m starting off 2018 in a new city, Dayton, so I have to grow my network of models, cosplayers, and fellow photographers.  I had good network in Washington, DC and would like to build a similar network here in Dayton area.  Thus, my goals are a little simpler this year, and focus on building a network of people to work and collaborate with.

General Photography Goals

1. Find or start a Dayton (to include Columbus & Cincinnati) cosplay and photographer group.
I really enjoyed working with the DC Cosplayer& Photographer group, in Washington, DC. I was able to make several friends and work with some amazing cosplayers.  The group also let me work on my photography on a regular basis, and work in some interesting locations I might not otherwise get to work in.  I also enjoyed the group because of the number of cosplayers that showed up at each event, so you could work with multiple people in the setting, and everything was done on a TFP (trade for print) basis, which benefited both the cosplayer and photographer.  So, I’m hoping there is similar group in this area.  If not, I think I could manage to start a similar group that meets once a month. If you are interested in this please send me a message through my Facebook page Munchkin Photos by Heather or contact me through my photo site Munchkin Photos

2. Attend at least one Ohio based convention in 2018.
I usually attended two conventions in the DC/VA area, Katsucon and Anime USA.  This year I will be attending Katsucon at National Harbor in DC area.  I am also looking to attend Colossalcon, up in Sandusky.  But I will be looking for good cosplay conventions in Ohio and the surrounding areas.

3. Do more shooting outside of conventions.
Last year I did about eight shoots outside of conventions five were cosplay and three personal projects. I would like to balance my shoots out a little bit more and do an equal amount of cosplay and personal project shoots.  You can see the list of my projects in the next section below.

4. Find interesting shooting locations in the area.
While I can set up a nice in-home studio, I want to be able to shoot on location. I had several locations in the DC area that I liked to work, including several parks. I want to be able to find several interesting locations for shoots in the area, which will include both Columbus and Cincinnati.  

5. Find a muse
Finding a muse may take longer than a year. For me a good muse, would be fun and easy to work with, good with collaboration, and has some creative ideas of their own.

Photo Shoot Projects

Besides the above goals, I also have some personal photo projects/shoots I would like to do this year.  (Note the projects listed below are in no particular order.) Last year I was able to complete three of the projects I had planned. Since I’m in a new city, I hope to at least complete one of the projects listed below. It should be noted all the photo shoot projects below are TFP (Trade for Print) projects, meaning that the model/cosplayer would be getting a free photo session and 5 to 10 fully edited digital images from the session.

Projects
1.      Victorian/ Steam Punk themed shoot
A few years ago, I did a Steam Punk themed shoot at Fort Washington, in Maryland.  The shoot turned out great even though it rained for the first half.  I would like to do a similar shoot, but based more on traditional Victorian fashion or the book series written by Gale Carriger.

2.      Photoshoot based off old masters lighting or painting
Lately, I have seen several photos done based off the work of the old master painters. In these photos they either use the same lighting techniques or copy the painting either directly or with a modern twist.  I think this is an interesting concept and would like to try my hand at it.  I’m not sure at this time what master or painting I would like the base the project on, I need to do a bit more research.   In the end I think it will be based on available location or if I want to do it via a studio session.  I’m thinking a studio session would be the easiest to start with.

3.      Do a cosplay shoot based on the artwork of Hannah Alexandra or Sakizou
I love the art work of Hannah Alexandra and Sakizou, but I rarely get to shoot any cosplays based on their work.  So, I’ll be looking for cosplayers who have cosplays based on those two artists. These sessions would either be done on location or in studio based on the cosplay. I would also entertain doing a group shoot for any of these cosplays.

4.      Editorial/Fashion/Fine Art shoots
I love shooting cosplay, but at the same time I would also like to do a more editorial/fashion type photoshoot.  Currently, I have one of these shoots lined up for January.  I also have one other idea floating around in my head.  This idea would be to do a shoot in a white lace or billowy white gown on farm, a little reminiscent of the old romance novel covers.  There are a few dresses on the Enception dress rental site that fit the bill and spurred the idea.  I also think I might like to do a few studio sessions, the focus mostly on beauty or classic portraiture. But we will see were the year takes me on this shoot goal, since my ideas come from locations, photo articles, books I read, or just pictures that catch my eye and I end up pinning on Pinterest

If you any questions or are interested in working with me on any of my goals or projects please contact me through my Facebook page Munchkin Photos by Heather or contact me through my photo site Munchkin Photos

Here is to hopefully a very productive 2018. 

Still Life

Now that I have a little bit of down time, I took some time to work on other types of photography outside of portrait photography.   I ...