Kaitlyn: Liberty Hill Senior Portraits, Part 2

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Part 2 of Kaitlyn’s senior portraits was a few weeks in arriving, weather and all being a question. Kaitlyn has been riding horses her whole life so we were thrilled that we could bring that aspect of her life into her senior portraits. Of course we took pretty shots (queue the bluebonnets and sunset), but we also wanted to highlight the more exciting aspects of riding a thoroughbred horse. What better way to do that than to add a little rain to the mix (and never mind the fact that her horse is named Rain too).

This time we took the photo’s at her mother’s riding school, Conner Combined Training in Liberty Hill. Adrian with Revelry Beauty was there once again adding the finishing touches to Kaitlyn’s hair and makeup.

Exciting, yes? We think so.

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Soaked: Fashion in the Wet in Austin

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Continuing in our Soaked Series, we had another fun, windy, wet and stormy session a few weeks ago and I wanted to share a few photographs while explaining our process. First, let me start by thanking our participants Sanchita, Dandie and Cassidy. The temperature dropped and the wind picked and yall were troopers to pose with cold water raining down upon you. Adrian with Revelry Beauty was a big help in doing hair and makeup, plus she held reflectors, water hoses and generally was a big help on set. Andrew with for being a second shooter/helper/inventor/part-time model thanks for your help too.

Our plan going into the day was to shoot again my big black fabric backdrop and to play with shutter speeds to get different length rain drops. The weather had other ideas as we got halfway through our first session with Sanchita and the wind became more than our sandbags could hold a 10×20 foot backdrop. The wind brought clouds and we problem solved by reversing our shooting position from shooting into my garage to shooting into the street. We also utilized my side yard to use my neighbor’s house as a wind screen. We had to shoot pretty tight and the models stood on top of a folding ladder to get enough elevation to clear the row of houses. Look at the last photo to see our setup.

Another big change for me is the use of the beauty dish. I have been shooting mostly with my paul buff long throw reflectors either bare or gridded but I wanted a wider throw and closer range and the beauty dish was a win for that solution. Need to continue exploring the edges of the beauty dish’s light, I think there is an interesting edge there. We also need to get another round of big gel sheets. I had a lumopro 180 with various Rogue Gels on it, but it doesn’t come close enough to the power of an Einstein640 on full power. Next time, I think we will gel the AB800 backlight. Looking to have more fun with color in this series and match the backlit color to the clothes/makeup of the models.

Already have the idea for the next installment of this series, leave a comment if you want to participate or if you have an idea of where a localized rainstorm would make sense.
–JB

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Ivy & Dan: Soaked Engagement Session

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Talking with Ivy on the phone she gave me the freedom to shoot whatever I wanted for part of their engagement session, a dangerous proposition for our creative juices. The theme I came back to was my Soaked Series, (view previous editions here | here | and here) I love doing them and the photos seem to come out with a different sheen to them. Our inspiration for this particular sessionn was Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie”. We told Dan to be JT and he responded pretty well to the role, playing that Hollywood look with seriousness and indifference. Ivy had a hard time keeping a straight face, something about playing a female role was difficult for her after acting out so many different/masculine roles for us over the years.

Let’s walk through the photos real quick for those interested in such things. First photo to me could be a movie poster, maybe a Mr. and Mrs. Smith Sequel? The second shows Dan at his indifferent best, which is a hard look when cold water is raining down your shirt and pants. The third might be my favorite of all. A good warm/cool contrast that plays well with their non-soaked photos. The fourth shows Ivy not able to stay in character, come on Hollywood! And the last photo shows the setup before we turned the water on, looks almost normal doesn’t it? Key light as a spot with two edge lights.

We will write another blog post detailing their “normal” around Austin Engagement Portraits soon, but for now let’s get Soaked!
–JB

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Shepherd & Megan: Soaked Engagement

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We have said it before and we will say it again, we love our clients. We will be photographing Shepherd and Megan’s wedding next month at Vintage Villas. While going through our initial consultation with them I discovered that they felt their engagement pictures could be better suited to their personalities. When asked about their personalities it came out that they loved dancing together and were up for about anything. I casually mentioned that I was shooting a series called “Soaked” and they were instantly interested and willing to participate. Oh, and they are also super talented dancers. 2 weeks later we had them in my garage shooting in “rain” on a 60 degree day with 20 mph wind. Megan’s lips were blue after the 45 minute water torture, er, portrait session but she stayed committed throughout. Are these the best of the series so far?

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I know you can feel the warmth and passion this couple has for each other and it was shining through even as they were shivering together. Such a pleasure for us to watch them work out their choreography and moves on the spot. Then they would just bring it when the rain came down. Like a hip hop Singin in the Rain!

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Let me take a second to run through our process for capturing these Soaked shots. Due to the high wind we setup a 10 foot roll of black background paper inside my garage to shield it from the wind and to put the exposure of the black further into the shadowed ambient. The couple is just in front of the edge of the roof to get the water falloff on, in front and behind them. We have a AlienBee 800 with a small softbox from behind and a LP160 gelled red from the opposite corner. They were both on 1/2 ish power. The key light is an Einstein640 with a sport reflector on full power. That’s because we were at an ambient killing iso50, f18, 1/320th exposure. Cue the rain from Austin on a ladder and Bob’s your uncle. Austin is the premiere provider of rain in Travis County.

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We also took some proper engagements before the wet and wild part of the session. Made sure we had enough good ones where we could shoot without hesitation on the rain soaked section. There is this great old barn in my neighborhood that I am always looking to photograph in new ways. Lucky for us the clouds stayed together and dramatic. The vertical photograph above is maybe my favorite of the entire day because it shows Megan and Shepherd in their true state of happiness together, a small slice of time that represents their future time together. And from up close to tiny in the frame, I think these pair well together in a narrative fashion.

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Hope you have enjoyed the continuation of our Soaked Series, any requests for what to photograph in the rain next?
–JB

Haide & Manny: Soaked

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Haide and Manny are Soaked! I mean really, how amazing is the passion in their eyes for each other. This session bounced around from so many possibilities. The first plan was for this to be an underwater session, outfits were purchased, pools reserved, stylists were ready to go. Then the storms came in and the lightning forced us out of the pool planning. Figuring there to be rain we were then going to go for a more intimate and muddy in the storm type of session. And then the rain finished hours before we were scheduled to start at 7:30 in the morning. So what did we do? We threw them on the back porch, brewed some hot tea with cinnamon rolls in the oven and we made it rain from a water hose!

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The sun rise almost directly behind my back porch, so our new plan was to have a rain in the summer sunrise look and feel. The sun decided to stay behind the clouds. I added a full CTO gel to the backlight to give that warmth the sun wasn’t providing and underexposed those great clouds by a bit to give the full drama. Our last bit to the equation was a medium softbox from up and left to illuminate our couple.

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We will be continuing our water theme this Spring with a few more entries in our Soaked category and a couple great underwater session that I can’t talk about just yet. For now, enjoy the passion and chemistry of Haide and Manny.

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–JB

Creative Session: Camryn is “Soaked”

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After a teaser picture from this series generated some excitement on our Facebook page, I decided to make a blog post detailing how and why we made this set of imagery. Let me get the fact out of the way that our model for the day, Camryn Little, brought an intensity and imperviousness to the cold water, wind and wet concrete while we were shooting that allowed any of these photographs to have. Thank you for your talent and professionalism Camryn!

The question for the day then is why make this series of photographs. First, it is a technical challenge to expand my abilities as a photographer. These shots were staged in a controlled wet environment where I can safely and quickly gain specific knowledge in how to light and expose in a wet situation in the future. My hope is that in the future I will be ready with my underwater housings to produce these type of photos in “the wild”, but seeing as how I live in the desert climate of North Austin the chance to practice is slim. And believe me, I am constantly checking the weather forecast for daytime rain storms to photograph in nature with models on standby. The main technical challenge is how to make a dramatic portrait with raindrops/water hose producing wetness that destroys electricity powered devices, namely cameras and flashes. We overcame this by shooting on my backporch with flashes in waterproof otterboxes and our big light far enough away to be out of the “thunderstorm”.

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The second reason is the one I find more interesting, the reason to make images like these is because they get in my head and I can’t shoot anything else until I purge them from my system. Ideas for my creative shoots infect my brain like a fever and can even cloud my vision of other projects until they are photographed and edited. On shoot day the camera feels lighter, the lights seem brighter and nothing will get in my way. The whole reason I picked up a camera in the first place was to tell dramatic stories and share them with my friends. Creative shoots like “Soaked” are the natural adult extension of my barely post adolescent impulses. Why do you pick up a camera?

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The last reason is produce new work and expand on past work. I have photographed couples, models and sea monsters underwater but this seemed more intense and edgy in a way. The technical skills gained in shooting underwater helped me immensely in this project. There are also strains of my recent restricted light work at play here. The water and tight lighting merged into a new category for myself that I am hoping to continue to push forward with in between the client work that we have on deck for this spring. I am looking forward to an upcoming couple underwater session that pushes my engagement session portfolio in new directions as well.

For those wanting the full tech specs of these images. LP 160 with a “Just Blue” gel to camera left and above with a ziploc bag cover at 1/1 or 1/2 power. Another LP 160 at 1/2 power in an otterbox on the floor pointing up towards the models chin to open up the shadows a bit with a 1/2 CTO warming gel. The main light is an Einstein 640 with a sport reflector and 15 degree grid at 1/4 power. My exposure was something like f/18 at 1/320th at iso 100 with a 70-200 f4L lens. Let me know if there are questions I can answer.

Thanks again to Camryn for getting Soaked! and to my assistant Austin for manning the water hose/collander/twilight cup station.

–JB