Blue Floral Crown

I made a large blue flower head piece last month, because I wanted to shoot with one and I did not want to buy one.  The head piece was easy to make, and consists of a wide plastic headband, a medium Styrofoam ball cut in half, three little Styrofoam cones, hot glue, and fake flowers (hydrangeas and wisteria). The key to making the head piece was having a basic picture in my mind of what I wanted, which was fluffy with long flowers dripping off the ends.  I used the leaves from the flowers to break up the blue, create a crown piece and frame the face when it is worn.  Now I did shoot with the head piece in April at the Spring Shoot on the Farm, however I also wanted to do a more studio centric shoot with it.  However, before the studio shoot I made a few adjustments to the head piece by adding more long flowers (wisteria) to the sides to eliminate the gap I was seeing during the farm shoot.  This made it larger and gave it a bit more length which I believed balanced it out a bit more. Thus, last week I shot the head piece in a studio setting.

For the flower head piece studio shoot, I worked with Lady Chapell (model) and Aly Issabelle Makeup Artistry (MUA) who are both very professional ladies. Aly did a wonderful job with the makeup and going bold, but not too bold with the blue.  The soft tulle skirt that Chapell brought that we turned into a dress worked beautifully to keep softness in the image.  I conducted the shoot in three parts, a high key part, a medium key (grey background instead of white) part, and an outdoors part.

For the two indoor sessions, I used one Phottix Indra 500LC Strobe, one beauty dish, two 430 EX–IIIRT speedlights, C-stand with boom-arm, two light stands, a white fuzzy backdrop, a radio trigger to activate the lights, and an assistant. When we went outside for the third part of the shoot, I just used an assistant holding a round gold reflector.  For all three parts of the shoot I used my Canon 70D, an 18-200mm lens.   For the high key part of the shoot the speedlights were pointed at about a 45-degree angle at the back drop and were dialed in to just barely blow it out for that high key look.  The beauty dish/strobe was up above the model and pointed straight at her nose and was at about 1/16 to a ¼ power.  To get the grey back ground for the medium key, I dialed the speedlights and strobe down but kept the same light set up.  I did move the dish around during the shoo, which was a bit easier since it was on a boom arm. However, my husband/assistant will beg to differ on the easy of movement of the strobe due to its overall weight.

I took 187 photos, edited 44 photos, and posted 42 fully edited shots.  Thus, I had a return of approximately 22 percent, which is a little below average for my shoots. For all the shots, I was at an ISO of 100. My pictures were evenly dispersed between an aperture of f4.5 to f5.6, a focal length from 35mm to 200mm, and shutter speeds of 1/160s or 1/250s.  I should be noted that the 18-200mm lens does not have fixed maximum aperture, it will vary slightly depending on the focal length.  So, at a focal length of 18mm the maximum aperture is f3.5 but if I zoom to 200mm the maximum aperture is f5.6.

Editing of the images was basically the same across the board, because the lighting was dialed in.  However, since these were all beauty shots (head shots), I spent more time retouching the images to give the skin a natural yet airbrushed look. (It should be noted, I usually do not spend a lot of time on skin retouching for large full-length shots that include a lot of background.) I was going for the type of shot you would see in a magazine or on America’s Next Top Model. Now to accomplish the airbrushed look, I had to employ something called frequency separation, which is all the rage and can be very easily overdone.  This is the first time, I have used frequency separation, and it was a lot easier then I though once I watched a tutorial (Powerof Frequency Separation) from PHLEARN and established the action in Photoshop.   The other thing I did several of the photos is soften the tulle skirt by blurring that slightly, to give it more of dreamy look, especially in the outdoor shots. You can see all the images here.

The following three shots are my favorite from the indoor session. All images were shot with a focal length of 70mm, an aperture of F5,  and a shutter speed of 1/160s. 


This last photo is my favorite from the outdoor portion of the shoot.  To get this shot, I had Chapell back into the large flower bush and look serine.  When editing the image, I touched up the skin, slightly brightened the overall image, then dialed it down some by adding a very light vignette to even out a few bright spots in the upper portion of the bush, and then softened the tulle so it seems almost cloud like. The image was shot with a focal length of 50mm, an aperture of F5,  and a shutter speed of 1/250s. 

Overall, I’m very happy with how this shoot turned out and will be making more head pieces for future shoots.  I’m now also not afraid to use frequency separation to retouch skin.  I now also have several ideas floating around in my head, some even involve rubber ducks, paint, glitter, and a kiddy pool but not necessarily altogether.  But these ideas will have to wait till I get back from vacation.


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