Parachute in a Barn

On September 25th I did a parachute dress session with Ms. Brickhouse at BigBarn1810 in Maryland.  The location is a restored historic barn with these very beautiful windows that light up the main space of the barn, and were just perfect for this session.  I made the dress from a 30-foot diameter military parachute.  It is a very large dress that can be hard work, thus I always tell the model to bring a handler/assistant for this dress.  I’m very thankful to the two assistants the model brought with her and the help they provided throughout the session.

For these sessions I used:

  • Canon 80D
  • 2 Speed light
  • Trigger
  • Large painter’s pole
  • Assistants

The start time for this session was around 10:00AM, which allowed us to maximize the beautiful light coming through the windows of the barn.  However, I still used flash to add some fill light and to light images taken in the loft of the barn.  I used an assistant with a painter’s pole for this shoot due to the size of the dress and the overall height of the barn.  The assistant with the painter’s pole really allowed me to make sure the light was in the right spot, especially for overhead images.  It also helps that my photography assistant is my husband, who also does photography, so he understands what I’m trying to achieve, which makes the process go extremely smoothly. 

For this session I shot at ISO 100 at F8 because it was very sunny and I wanted as much of the scene and dress in focus as possible. My shutter speed ranged from 1/15s to 1/250s with most images being taken at 1/250s.  My focal length ranged from 18mm to 60mm with most images being at 18mm to ensure I was getting as much of the dress as possible in the image with out standing several 100-feet away from the model. 

I had so many favorite images from this session, it would end up being a very long blog post if I talked about them.  So, I’m only going to talk about what I consider my top three images. This first image, I just love the drama and overall feel of the image. To create the drama in this image I reduced most of the ambient except for the light coming from the window. I then had my assistant, who was on the loft level, extend the painter’s pole so that flash was directly over the model’s face.  I was laying on floor of the loft level shooting down. It should be noted I’m afraid of heights so shooting over the open edge of the loft was an accomplishment for me.  When I pulled this image into post I did the basic edits, then went in and eliminated a few distractions in the shadows. I also added a little more light to the model’s face.  I then darkened the edges of the photos using a vignette.  Then to finish off the image, I used some dodge/burn techniques to bring out some of the folds and texture in the dress and cropped it to 11x17.

This next image also uses the window to create drama. For this image the flash was above the model just to fill in a few of the shadows. I was shooting down from the loft level. When editing this image, I focused on how the window light was interacting with the model’s face and dress, thus played up the shadows being cast.  I did remove a few distracting elements from the corner of the image. I also did a little bit of dodging/burning to bring out the folds of the dress.  I think what makes this image is the size of the windows to the size of the dress so I went for a long narrow crop to really show the environment. I then finished the image off with a vignette.

This next image really shows off the size of the dress. From the main floor of the barn to the floor of the loft is about 15-feet. I give big props to the model for climbing the ladder in the dress to get to the loft level. My assistant was at the top to help her up over the top of the ladder while her assistants where at the bottom managing the dress. To get this shot I was on the ground shooting up.  The main flash was on the painter’s pole held by my assistant, who was on the loft level, so that it would be above and angled down towards the model.  I had a second flash sitting on a table to my left to add some additional fill to the middle/bottom of the dress. When editing this image in post, I did the basic edits then removed some green rope and other distractions from the background. I did a little bit of dodging and burning to bring out the texture in the folds and help balance some of the lighting. I then toned the image using a blue/orange split tone.  I then used a 11x17 crop before adding a vignette to finish off the image.

Overall, this session produced a ton of great images, Ms. Brickhouse just rocked the whole session from beginning to end.  I highly recommend working with her if you have a chance. Also, the BigBarn1810 is a great location, and the owner is very nice and easy to work with. I think the barn was a perfect location for this dress and allowed me to really show off the size of dress while capturing very romantic images.  Several of the images from the session were published in the October issue of Swanky Magazine.


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