Parachute in the Park
On November 13th I did a parachute dress session with Solamente at Claude Moore Park in Virginia. The park is very large contains several sports fields, two ponds, and has a historical section that contains the Heritage Farm Museum and a few historical buildings. I chose to do this shoot in the historical area near and near the larger pond.
For these sessions I used:
- Canon 80D
- 2 Speed light
- 2 light stands
- Assistant provided by the model to help with the dress
The start time for this session was around 8:00AM, which is a half hour after the park opens. This would have allowed us to use some nice morning light, however the day was cloudy and overcast which precluded the use of nice natural light. This is the reason I bring speed lights. This start time allowed us to have the park mostly to ourselves except for a few early morning hiker and bird watcher. However, the start time meant it was chilly in the morning and the dress is not very warm, even when wearing a layer underneath. I provided the model a hand warmer to tuck down the front of the dress to help keep her warm.
For this session I shot at ISO 400 at F8, I choose these setting because it was overcast and I didn’t want to push the speed lights while keeping everything in focus. My shutter speed ranged from 1/100s to 1/250s with most images being taken at 1/160s. 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.
My favorite image from the session we captured near the very beginning of the session. It is a bit of a play on the cliché of posing in the middle of the road, but in this case, we used one of the large gravel paths lined with trees and buildings. It also gives the viewer an idea to how large the dress is. To light this image, I used two speed lights. The first is located to my left to light the model from the side, the second is almost directly in front of me to add some additional fill light. When editing the image, I cropped it in a long narrow horizontal strip to play off the dress. I then did basic edits adding some additional texture to the dress using dodge and burn. I also brightened the models face just slightly to ensure the viewers eye would be drawn to her face. I finished the image off with a standard vignette.
I like this second image because it has some movement in the dress and you get nice background with the last vestiges of fall and the storm sky. To capture this image, I had the model’s assistant fluff the dress, just like one used to use the parachute in grade school gym class, three times then dash off to my right so she would be out of frame. For this image I split the metering between the sky and the background just to ensure I was not losing it to shadows or blowing it out completely. I then used the speed lights, placed to my left, to ensure the model’s face was properly lit. To make the image pop just a bit I had to bring it into Lightroom and do some basic edits and work with the exposure slightly to ensure everything was light correctly. I also did some doge and burn within the dress folds just to ensure some of those stood out and you could see the movement. I per usual I finished the image with a vignette.
The parachute dress shoot is always tough one for the model, no matter how much experience they have, just because it is a lot of dress to move in. However, the model’s assistant always gets a work out, with the dress fluffing. Both Solamente and her assistant did wonderful jobs and we were able to get the shot well before the park got busy with family fall photoshoots and the rain moved it. You can see all the image from this session here.