Studio Portrait Experiments

I’m SO giddy right now! Like, so giddy and happy and excited it feels like I drank a million cups of coffee.

I spent four hours in the studio. My friend Rachel modeled for me again (since she’s gorgeous and can model her butt off,) and she let me cover her face in unconventional materials and clothe her in weird clothes. So that was fun. But you know what made it even more fun?


We were able to get two experiments in today. I had a lot more, but I was being so picky, we ran out of time. The first one I did was ambient light vs. flash. I had Rachel in a highly reflective dress. My goal was to do some light painting with the tiny reflections of light that were bouncing off of the dress. I’d say it went well.

I was inspired by the photographer Oleg Tityaev. His mastery of lighting is so motivating to me, and I have even more respect for him now that I’ve tried to do some of the effects he does. It’s hard to get it just right.

How did I do this? You need a strobe and a continuous light. When the strobe goes off, it doesn’t matter the shutter speed, the scene that you are photographing in that 1/1000th (or whatever it is) of a second will be frozen. Everything after that, though, is not. The continuous light is still being recorded by the camera. So, if you’re not using a tripod and you’re shooting with a slow shutter (I kept switched between 1 and 2 seconds,) interesting things can happen. Have your model move around, you can move around, zoom your lens in and out… Just play with it and have fun!

Here’s the tutorial I used to get started, if you are interested in trying something like this out:

I can’t wait to practice this technique more so I can get good at it like these photographers!

For the second experiment, I played with low-key lighting and the flash sync speed on my camera (which is 1/250th of a second.) I was shooting at 1/320th of a second, which caused the shutter to appear in my photos. I did this on purpose, and it really added to the mood of the photographs. I also took some without the flash sync speed all funky, and I like how those turned out as well.

I honestly cannot wait to get back into the studio. I admit these past few months have been boring in there, just setting up still lifes and trying to learn the basic principles of studio lighting… but now I get to be creative and take pictures of people (my favorite!)

These next couple of weeks should be awesome for photography. I’ll be on spring break, and I get to take one of the portable studio lighting kits home with me. Then, after break, I have more experiments to do in the studio.

There are more good things to come!

Stopping by Woods with a Rainbow Umbrella on a Snowy Afternoon

I’ve been bored lately, and kind of in a photography slump. It’s not that I’m not enjoying taking pictures, because I am, and I’m not any less passionate, it’s just… I haven’t been happy with the work I’ve been producing for my classes. I think it’s the lack of freedom I have at this point in the semester, and hopefully that will change. However, I went out and did my own shoot. Because I can.

I had this idea since the first snow storm in my area. I pictured a girl in a red coat, in the snow. Simple, but I wanted to shoot it. I got my friend Rachel to pose for me, and she happened to have a red coat.

I think the best part of this shoot was the snow. There was so much of it- we went down by the river, where no one has really been since December. Now, no snow had melted up to this point, so all the snow that had accumulated over the past two months was just chillin’ (HA! PUN!), undisturbed… Until Rachel and I decided it would be a good idea to try and freeze our legs off. The snow was above our knees in some places! There were a few pictures where Rachel looked super short because of how deep the snow was. It was super funny, until we couldn’t feel our legs anymore.

I took a couple cameras with me. Again: because why not. I was really hoping to get some good panoramas out of my Horizon Perfect, but this happened:


I got an unwanted double exposure! I’m super bummed, but it is what it is. It looks kind of cool, at least. Kind of. Maybe… I’m a little disappointed, if you can’t tell.

I busted out my Fuji Instax as well and shot two pictures on it. The first one is alright, but I’m in love with the second one. It has the contrast of the figure vs. ground that I was hoping for in my panoramas… (I’m not bitter… Like my film that broke in the camera so the sprocket holes were ruined and the reel wouldn’t take the film up anymore… whatever… not like I care or anything…) But yeah, these are from the instax:

A bit out of focus… oops?

Yay- look at the orb on the left from the flash reflecting off of the falling snow!

Sometimes you just have to do something to keep yourself sane amidst the course work. I do believe the boring period is over, since it is officially half way through the semester. I have an awesome shoot happening in the studio this week- I’m so excited I can hardly wait! I have a list of lighting tricks I want to try in portraiture. I love photographing people- so buh-bye still-life assignments, nice knowing you (but not really…)

Watch out for more this week for when I get done with my studio adventures- I can’t wait to tell you all about the pictures and how they were taken!


Carrying a Camera Everyday

I’ve finally made it a habit to carry a camera around with me everywhere I go. I’m so glad I’ve committed, as it is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I carried around my Fuji Natura Classica so I could use it in adverse lighting situations and loaded it with ISO800 Fuji Film. Whenever I saw a scene that made me wish I had a camera, I pulled my camera out and captured it (BECAUSE I HAD ONE WITH ME WOW WHAT A CONCEPT!) Almost all the photos on the roll have some merit, but these are the best (in my opinion, anyway.)

The last picture (with the little glass animals) is a preview of what I’ve been doing in the studio recently. More on that a different day. (:

The images were scanned in on my new portable scanner by Kodak. I gotta figure out what those weird lines are, but other than that the scanner is great. It’s super easy to use and it’s going to be great for when I’m studying abroad this summer and I want to share my photos taken with film.

I started shooting this roll in mid January and finished it February 11th. I’d like to do a roll a month. I highly recommend trying this, because it is truly rewarding. Carrying a roll of film around for a month makes you grow a little attached to it, and it makes you excited to see the final results. I was not disappointed with this adventure.



A Project Involving Lettuce

Yepp. You read that right.

I’m in a class called photography workshop, and the object of the course is to do research with a professor outside of the art department, and create a body of work based on that research.

I’m researching the English department. I know what you’re thinking… “But lettuce has nothing to do with English! What are you talking about you crazy person!?”

Just hear me out.

I had to have images for class this week, but I didn’t have enough research together to start shooting seriously. This was kind of sprung on me, but I had a funny idea already in the works, after the professor I was auditing told his class a true story about a woman who ate nothing but lettuce. I took notes.

Now, what I’m really doing is auditing an Advanced Fiction Writing class. I’m interested in finding trends in college-aged writing, and I’m exploring the phrase, “A picture is worth 1000 words.” The students aren’t writing yet, they’re just reading short stories and essays to learn how to write. I’ve been taking notes on what they think makes a good story, and I’ve been jotting down some of the things the professor says. Like the story about lettuce.

So, I made a picture about lettuce, because I had to do something. I also made a few other images, based solely on the things the professor says. He creates awesome visuals with his words. While I’m waiting for the students to start writing, I can create images based off of his words of wisdom… and stories about an austere woman and her lettuce.

Here are some images based off of quotes from the professor:

“That’s precisely what reader’s do- they put a little bit of their life into the story.”

“Don’t put your thumb in the pan.”

“Our language becomes a part of us; we become a part of our language.”

AUSTERE: A woman who eats nothing but lettuce and lectures people on how they should do the same.

“Fifty years ago, people never would have thought we would become the robots they talked about.”

The images are Photoshop heavy and they come across as collages. I’m not sure how I feel about this aesthetic, but it’s what I’m working with right now. Since I have to create a final body of work using my research as source material, I think my final results will be something similar to this, but more refined. I’d like to keep the unrealistic elements that Photoshop allows me to implement, but I want to have some realism as well.

I’m not sure what my subjects are going to be. I have a few possibilities… I could continue with this theme, creating outrageous visuals for simple quotes. Another idea is collaborating with the fiction writing students to create an image that compliments their story that they write. I also have the idea of perhaps doing my own writing to supplement a photograph, perhaps a 1000 word story and a picture to go with it. I have a few ideas I’m playing with, and I’m sure I’m going to fail a lot before I come up with something I enjoy.

I’m looking forward to seeing the end result. I’ll be posting more about this project as I work on it, so stay tuned!