I had a photographic assignment late last year to make images of a spa out near Lake Travis. We spent a day photographing different services, with models, as well as interiors and exteriors. It was fun and crazy and I got to work with a bright, young art director named Mary Beth Taylor from one of my favorite insanely creative ad agencies, Clutch Creative. When we wrapped up the main day of shooting we still had one image that we needed to do; the owner, Melissa.
She runs a very high energy business and I wanted to remove her from the day-to-day interruptions and make her portrait here at the studio. We scheduled her portrait for a different day. I set up my usual lighting design for portraits with a large, softlight on the left and a fill diffuser on the right. I used a light gray background. When we finished shooting my regularly planned shots I noticed that the exterior light, coming from my wall of northwest facing windows and gliding through the white diffuser I had been using for fill, was nicer and softer than the lights I'd been using.
I turned off the big flash but I left on the modeling light for fill. I tried some poses that were out of my normal routine and, when she turned around in the shot above, I loved the feeling of motion and connection. I had Melissa do variations of this pose for a few more shots and then we moved on a tried a few more poses and experimented with looser crops. But this was the image I really wanted that I didn't know I wanted until I saw it. I have yet another resolution for this year: Be open to the available light instead of always lighting everything to death.
I shot this image on my Sony a99 camera attached to the 70-200mm 2.8 G lens. The camera was anchored on my wooden tripod. I shot in raw and processed the image in Lightroom 4.3. The image required me to color correct the side of her face away from the light. The tungsten modeling light made that side too warm. I used an adjustment brush to make my corrections.
I often pine for the 85mm 1.4 Zeiss/Sony lens but images like this serve to remind me that I'll need to end up shooting at more reasonable f-stops like f4 and f5.6 if I want to keep both of my subject's eyes in focus. I really like using the 70-200 on a tripod because it has a mount that takes the weight off the camera and balances out the system. Which the twist of a lock button I can go from horizontal to vertical very easily. The 70-200mm is good at f2.8, better at f4 and wildly excellent at 5.6. It's the right tool for the job, if your job is making portraits in the studio.
Nice to start the year with a portrait I really love. Kind of sets the bar for the year.
blog note: Thanks to all the people who signed up for Wyatt's workshop/road trip/BBQ fest. I predict you will have much fun. I further predict that I'll sneak up and meet everyone for lunch. I'm a sucker for great BBQ and anything photographic...
Also, keep the comments coming. The feedback loop is priceless.