Pumpkin Princess

On October 22nd I did a photo shoot with Coralinx Cosplay up at Big Barn 1810. Look, an on-location session and not a studio session. This was a fall themed session, revolving around the pumpkin corset I bought from Mel Plum Fine Art, in Germany.

For this session I used:

Photography Equipment


Cannon 80D


2 speed lights

¼ cut CTO gels

Light stand

Painters Pole

Triangle Reflector


Fake pumpkins

Fake fall leaves

Orange pails

Hay bales

The set up

This was an on-location photo shoot, which meant I relied heavily on the surroundings of the location to set the theme and guide the session.  The barn has huge windows that let the morning light in, and basically fill the barn with a soft golden light. While the outside of the barn is red and has a few rustics looking double doors.  The weather was perfect so I was able to get both inside and outside photos.

Inside the barn I arranged the haybales, pumpkins, and leaves so they would fall in the light pattern created by the windows. I created levels with the haybales and pumpkins, to create interest in the photo. This also gave the model something to sit on and props to interact with.  However, I did mess up here a little bit, and arranged the bales and pumpkins so the model was back lit instead of front lit by the windows. This decision lost me the patterns created by the windows.  Although, I was still able to get the look I was going for by using speedlights with ¼ CTO gels to fill, and in one case a reflector.   Outside the barn, I took some of the pumpkins with me (fake pumpkins are very light) and arranged them around the model using the barn itself as a background. The hay bales were too heavy to be moving around, so we left them inside the barn. Here I used a single speedlight with ¼ cut CTO gel to light the shot, since we were on the shaded side of the barn.

For lighting I relied on speedlights combined with the “light on a stick” method. For those not familiar with that method, I attach a speedlight to the end of a painter’s pole and then have my assistant (i.e., my loving husband) hold and aim the light.  The light on stick works very well for this location because my husband can stand in the loft and reach the light out over the model.  This technique is also useful because I can match the angel of the natural light a bit better and make quicker adjustments then with a standard light stand.  It also helps that my husband is also a photographer, mostly landscapes, and understands light thus usually knows what I’m thinking.  This speeds the process up, which is key when you only have 2-hours to set-up, shoot, and teardown.  For this location I budgeted 30-minutes for set up, 60-minues for shooting, and 30-minutes for teardown.

Camera Settings

For this session I used ISO 100 and ISO 200, due to the two types of lighting conditions I was working with bright sun, and heavy shade.  I used an aperture of F8 to maintain a solid depth of field. My shutter speed varied from 1/80s to 1/500s based on the lighting conditions, with the most common speed being 1/250s.  My focal length ranged from 18mm to 100mm with most of the images being taken at 32mm.   This session had more variety to the camera setting but the end results were still consistent that I was able to edit in batches and maintain consistent results.

The Photos

For this session I was working with a variety of different lighting set ups and lighting conditions, so I couldn’t just adjust one photo and apply it across the whole set, like in a studio session. I worked in batches, because there were clear batch delineations based on location, lighting, my position, and posing.  So, in this case I would do the basic adjustments apply across a small set, then do it again for the next set, and the next set, and so on.  To apply the adjustments, I first do the white balance, then take the image to black and white using the individual color saturation sliders. I then do the exposure adjustments, to include contract, clarity, and texture. I then bring the colors back one at a time. I then apply any smoothing, lens correction, cropping, and vignettes.  I do like my vignettes.  I’ll then look at all the images as a group and determine if a color grade is needed. In this case I applied a slight orange color grade, to the highlights only, to keep the image warm and enhance the feel of sunlight. I then pulled the images into Photoshop to clean up distractions, do standard skin retouching, and a bit of dodge and burn work.  Now let’s talk about a few individual photos.

This first image I’m going to discuss was on the cover of Glamville Magazine. To get this image I went up to the barn’s loft and shot down towards the model. I used part of the natural light coming in from the windows and then filled with flash. The speed was extended on a painters pole directly over the model.  In post I did all the basic edits described above and added a small radial filter on the model’s face to lighten the shadows slightly and brighten the face slightly.  

ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/80s, Focal Length 60mm

This second image we took outside, in front of one of several sets of doors on the lower portion of the barn. To get this image I had the model sit on the ground and look towards the speed light which was to my right and had a ¼ cut CTO gel on it.  I had my assistant zoom the light to about 80mm to create a narrow beam of light to light the model.  During post I followed the steps outlined previously. Then added a gradient filter to darken a few hot spots on the door and wall. I also added a radial gradient on the model’s face to enhance the glow.  


ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/320s, Focal Length 40mm

This third image was the first real image that I took after the test images.  I like this image because it is elegant yet casual. It has nice open arms and angles leading you through the image.  As you can see the light coming in from the windows is mostly backlighting the model and providing rim lighting and some side light. So, I filled most of the image with flash. In this case my assistant was in the loft with a speed light on a painter’s pole which he held out over the model to light her from above. I also had a light stand to my left to add fill to the shadows, especially the pumpkins in the lower left-hand side of the image.  If I was to do this again, I would potentially flip the set so I was shooting from the windows instead of towards the windows.  In post followed the standard edits as outlined earlier. Then in photoshop spent time removing a large dead looking tree branch crossing the windows as well as some utility poles.  I also did a little dodge and burn on the tulle to give it a bit more texture.


ISO 100, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 24mm

This final image I love, because it is adorable.  While it doesn’t show off the corset, it perfectly represents a moment in time and I love the model’s smile. In this image the speed light is up and just a bit left to center. I followed the editing process as described above, and did darken a few hot spots in the image. (ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 35mm)

ISO 200, Aperture F8, Shutter 1/250s, Focal Length 35mm

Overall, this was a fun little session, and Coralinx Cosplay really embraced the tulle and pumpkin princess theme. Plus, she is a wonderful person to work with. Since she is also a make-up artist, she came up with the makeup look for this shoot based on the images of the corset I sent her. I was a little worried at first when she described the concept but once I saw the make-up test image I was sold on the look. The make-up look added the correct amount of whimsy to the overall look, which was perfect. I felt the make up made really helped push the set into the editorial realm.  Images from this session were published in the special Halloween issue of Glamville Magazine.  You can also see the full set of images here: Pumpkin Princess.


Model & MUA: Coralinx Cosplay (Instagram: @coralinx_cosplay)

Corset: Mel Plum Fine Art (Instagram: @aucontrairephotography)


Popular Posts