Model Shoot: Ashley Sunday, Jan 30 2011 

Last weekend, I was invited by the photographer Ray Dauphinais to assist him on a photo shoot he did for The Angels Foundation. I worked with Ray a few times before, and I didn’t mind helping around with lights and equipment and learning something in the process.

Most of the shoot took place in a gym of a downtown Dallas residential building, but then Ray and I went exploring the building with one of the models, Ashley.

Ashley had a great attitude and a photogenic face highlighted with brilliant eyes. The impromptu shoot started when she changed from the gym clothes into a little black dress. As she sat down by a window to wait for us photographers to get our gear ready, we put away our flashes and worked with available light. We made a makeshift reflector to fill in the shadows and this quick portrait with her smirk was the best of that series.

Ashley, digital

Ashley, digital

Then we took a quick trip to the roof of the building. The downtown skyscrapers provided great background for Ashley and her dress. After a few digital test shots, I felt brave enough to put a flash on my medium format Mamiya 645 1000S. The idea was to use a few last frames of a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 that I had in the camera for months. I climbed on some patio furniture to eliminate the whitish overcast sky and fired off two shots, of which I prefer this one.

Ashley, on color slide film

Ashley, on color slide film

Finally, on our way down from the roof, we walked through a narrow hallway with distressed walls and tall windows. Again Ashley’s face looked great in natural diffused light framed by her flowing hair, so I used another film camera to capture the image. There was a roll of Ilford HP4 Plus in my Canon Elan 7 since my trip to New York in November, and I wanted to get a few shots to wrap it up. Sure enough, this “look”, showing Ashley’s “femme fatale” side, was what I was looking for.

Ashley, on black and white film

Ashley, on black and white film

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Model Shoot: Crystal Friday, Oct 1 2010 

The third model in my July shoot (besides Elizabeth and Diana) was Crystal, who put the whole thing together. That’s what she does; she’s very passionate about modeling and keeps coming up with ideas for shoots. I met her last December at a hangar shoot organized by a local photography club. She was one of about a dozen models I shot that day, but just about the only one who followed up with me afterward.

A few months later, she had an idea for a shoot at a cemetery near downtown Dallas. She did hair and makeup herself, and even showed up with a few props. We had a great time shooting, and she wasn’t afraid to roll around in her dress, make faces and try different things. The weather was chilly (it was February), and it even rained a little, but overcast sky was friendly to our portrait mission, as there was no harsh shadows.

Crystal organized the July shoot pretty quickly, with a few photographers and models she worked with before. Even though she had a studio shoot earlier in the day, she came prepared with a couple of outfits and lots of energy. Time got away from us quickly and I got to shoot with her again only briefly toward the end of the shoot. We were joking around and most good shots ended up being candids, like this one here. You can see a few more shots of her on my Flickr page and her Model Mayhem page.

Model Shoot: Diana Sunday, Sep 26 2010 

Here’s another set from a shoot I had with a few other photographers and models in downtown Dallas. The model is Diana Graves, who specializes in horror, fetish and alternative pin-up modeling. I’m normally a straight-forward portrait/headshot photographer, so I wasn’t really sure how to approach Diana’s unique look.

I caught a lucky break a few minutes into the shoot. It was late afternoon and the sun was close to the western horizon, so the light was very warm. As it bounced off a skyscraper, it caught her hair from behind, wonderfully enhancing its fiery red color. We worked with that a little bit, trying to find the best way to capture the flowing waterfall of red hair. I think this shot shows her fierce presence the best.

A little later in the shoot, when the sun was even lower, I tried using sunlight even more, with and without flash. It was a bit difficult to wrangle the harsh shadows, but I found that this shot looks very good, with Diana’s silhouette and the red mane dominating the frame.

Diana was very easy to work with and actually smiled quite a lot. Although I think smiles are usually great for portraits, her intensity was better used in different ways. Shooting with her made me work outside my comfort zone a little, but at the same time reminded me to quickly identify the model’s best features and build the set around them.

Model Shoot: Elizabeth Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

About a year ago or so, I joined Model Mayhem, a web site where photography professionals and enthusiasts get together for creative purposes. My goals were modest, to connect with some local people who like to do the same types of things I do, and maybe get involved with some fun shoots, and hopefully learn something.

Elizabeth contacted me and offered to set up a shoot; after she gave birth to her son earlier this year, she was looking to get back in front of the camera. Her “port” (home page) looked very versatile and interesting, but we could not get our schedules lined up. Then, in July, another model I shot with before, Crystal, set up an impromptu shoot with three models and three photographers in historic West End in Downtown Dallas. Elizabeth showed up wearing a tight-fitting retro dress and a winning smile.

We had a great time with different poses, from which I picked four for my Flickr gallery. She was a terrific sport – not only did she indulge my insane idea to come out into the scorching July sun for a few minutes for some natural light portraits, she even deftly changed into another tight-fitting retro dress. That dress is featured in this shot where her curvaceous body is highlighting the banner for the “Bodies” exhibition (“An Exhibition of Real Human Bodies”).

There’s also this shot where she’s framed by a service elevator opening; that one was a real pain to clean up. It was taken from very close distance with a very wide angle lens, which is usually a no-no for portraits, due to the distortion those lenses create. First I used the lens distortion correction, based on the numbers published by a photographer and blogger Ken Rockwell to get the lines straight. But then I had to change the vertical and horizontal perspectives to get everything properly lined up. I doubt the haywire lines would have distracted from what’s a very nice portrait of Elizabeth, but I’m pretty pleased to have helped keep the focus on the model.

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