Fall Regency Two Ways
On September 3 and 4, I did a fall regency sessions with the lovely Lilly and Adwoa. This session was inspired by a beautiful dress I bought from Jennifer Glinzak when she did a de-stash sale. I wanted to do something fall themed because the dress is a rich blue and burnt orange color, which I felt would work wonderfully with fall colors. This session also allowed me to use my hand painted canvas backdrop that I made earlier in the year.
For this session I used:
1 Backdrop stands
Square Soft box
Soft box grid
Lastolight 3x2 reflector
Bell reflector with 30-degree grid
1 light stand
Fake Fall leaves
Burlap wrapped Styrofoam blocks
I always wanted a nice hand painted backdrop, but they can be very pricey. So, I decided to make one for myself after watching several tutorials on line. To make the backdrop, I bought 3 yards of basic canvas from JoAnne Fabrics. It is the same fabric they make canvas grocery bags from. Then went to Home Depot and bought a gallon of a light beige paint on they hand on the discount/wrong paint color rack, which I used as the base color for the canvas. I also bought two sample sizes of a dark and medium brown paint to use as the accent colors for the canvas. I also bought a textured natural sponge roller to add texture to the canvas while I was painting it. To paint the canvas, I taped a plastic drop cloth down to the garage floor then placed the canvas on top of that and taped the corners down. I then painted the canvas, using a roller on a painter’s pole, with the base color. I then let that dry for a bit before adding the medium color, then let that dry a little bit before adding the final color. I didn’t let the first two colors dry completely to allow for a bit of mixing and blending of color. Once completely painted I let the canvas dry for 24 hours before rolling it up for storage. To make it a bit easier to roll I tape a wooden dowel rod to one end and use that as the starter for the roll. The final canvas is 5-feet wide by 9-feet tall, which is narrow and limits its uses. I will probably make a larger one in the fall, using a canvas drop cloth from Lowes or Home Depot, since that is what a lot of the YouTubers were using.
The set up
The anchor of the set was the canvas backdrop, which I hung over a larger white backdrop. I then placed the peacock chair in the center the backdrop, and placed a fall leaf garland around the top edge of the chair. I’m glad I didn’t go with the larger chair or it wouldn’t have fit, as it was there was just barely any breathing room along the sides of the backdrop. I then placed two burlap Styrofoam blocks on the side of the chair, I might have used more but ran out of burlap. I then placed fall floral arrangements on top of the blocks. I then placed the pumpkins, and orange pails filled with mums around the chair. I filled any blank spots with loose fake leaves.
I wanted a window light look that leaned towards a painterly look. Now I could have done this with the natural light coming through the large glass doors I have going to the back porch (hidden by the white and canvas backdrops) and not have total control of the light or I could fake it and have total control. I decided to fake it and go for total control. I did this by using a soft box placed to my right, at relatively close distance to the model. I then placed a large 3x2 Lastolight reflector opposite the strobe to fill the shadows by bouncing light from the strobe back towards the model. The image is mainly lit with just one light. Now I did have one addition strobe with a bell reflector and grid on it. I used this in a few images to place focused light on the models face and upper body to help create a natural vignette.
For this session I used ISO 100 with an aperture of F8 and F7.1, and shutter speed of 1/160s. My focal length ranged from 24mm to 50mm with most of the images being taken at 35mm. By keeping the same basic camera setting throughout the sessions, all I needed to do was dial in the lighting then just worry about composition. In this case I had to be very mindful of composition as I did not want things extending beyond the canvas backdrop.
I did this session with two very different models, which highlights the versatility of the dress, the set, and how each session is unique to the person being photographed.
Since you already know the light set up, let’s talk a little bit about the post processing for all the images. I usually follow a standard editing process, walking through each panel in Lightroom to do standard adjustments, and cropping. Then pull the images into Photoshop for more intense edits such as skin retouching, spot clean up, and such. However, this time I did something a little different. I completely desaturated the image using the HSL/color panel in Lightroom and did all exposure, contrast, texture, clarity, and tone curve adjustments in black and white. Desaturating the image is supposed to help you see and understand the light in the image better, which I believe it does. Once all the basic adjustments were done, I brought each of the colors back one at a time. By bringing the colors back slowly, it really helps you see what the dominate colors of the images are and how they interact. This greatly helped me get the skin tones to look natural. Once this was complete, I added a slight orange (shadows)/blue (highlights) color grade to the images, which really upped the overall warmth of the final images. I then finished the images with a vignette. I used this process for all the images across both sessions. Since I followed the same process for all the images, I’m only going to talk about how I feel about the image and any special adjustments I did to the image.
I’m going to start with this image of Lilly. This was actually the very last shot of the session. I thought we were done with the session and I was helping her out of the blue over dress when inspiration dawned. So, we went back and did this less formal photo of her holding the large pumpkin. To me this just says fall harvest.
Next, we are going to talk about this image of Adwoa. I like this image because it is a reverse ¾ profile, were we get to see the back of the dress and strong silhouette of the model’s face. Also, image reminds me of the style of several Regency era paintings where they show the back of the dress and the woman’s face in profile. Now I did use the second strobe with the bell reflector and grid to get that glow in the background around the upper part of the model. I did no special edits to the image to achieve the final look.
I like this next image of Lily because it is very simple yet elegant. As you can see, we removed the chair brought her down to the level of the plants and pumpkins. You can tell by the shadow I used the bell reflector and grid for this image as I wanted a bit of a harder light and increase the separation from the background and set. I still had the soft box adding fill to the image.
I’m going to end with this very strong image of Adwoa. I like this image because it portrays a very strong regal woman from the expression through the posing. It also shows off the dress very nicely. This was second or third image from her session.
Overall, I’m very happy with how both sessions turned out. I also like that I was able to achieve two overall unique sessions using the same set and dress, which really comes down to the personality of each of the models who helped make the session their own. So, if you want to work with me and but are worried you would be repeating past concept, don’t worry each session is different and it not a repeat. You can see all the final images from the sets here and here.
Adwoa (@Miss_ghana123 on Instagram)
Syzygy Lilly (@syzygy.lily on Instagram)
Jennifer Glinzak (@jglinzak on Instagram)
Set Design: Heather of Munchkin Photos (Instagram: @munckin_photos_by_heather)