This was one of those shoots that could have gone either way: something cool or a complete disaster. Thankfully, we came down on the cool side of the fence.
Lancaster’s Lune Industrial Estate is a maze of old, crumbling brickwork, security fences, rotting portacabins and new shiny industrial units, so there was no doubt that we’d find some interesting backdrops. Sarah arrived in the above black and white ensemble and we started shooting against this gate, taking care to keep the trailer behind it out of shot. The sun was going in and out behind clouds so to give us something steady to work with (and thus avoiding the need to keep adjusting my aperture by +/- 3 stops all the time) I threw up an SB-900, bare, to camera left.
After an outfit change I tried some wide-angle shots with the 10-20mm lens. Great lens but it wasn’t working for me; too much barrel distortion to be doing Sarah any favours. So we switched locations and I switched up to my 70-200mm. Found some tires and a nice dark wall and got this. Again, one bare SB-900 to c/l.
We walked around for a bit, partly to keep Sarah warm, partly to find some other interesting locations. And behold, there was an old stone staircase on the outside of a building that looks like it’s not been used for business purposes at least for some time. This one was shaded, but the concrete floor provided some ambient. Bumped the ISO up to 800 and…
As we were walking back to the cars for another outfit change we happened upon one of the workers from a warehouse we’d passed earlier. Sarah asked him whether we could come in and shoot and he – somewhat bemused by us, I suspect – told us to have as much fun as we liked. Turned out that the cages just inside the entrance were perfect for what we were doing. The SB-900 did its thing again for this shot:
One final outfit change and we returned to the security gate that we’d shot at in the first place. The change of outfit brought on a softening of looks, too, so I decided to soften the light to go with it. Out came the 38″ Lastolite umbrella with its reflective covering. A slowly-rotting portacabin gave us a nice backdrop for this:
And last but not least, Sarah decided that she wanted to play on the pile of sand on which I was standing for the above shot. We tried a few different permutations but in the end it worked better without the sand in the shot (because it looked like exactly what it was: a pile of industrial detritus). With Rose, (Sarah’s friend and our make-up artist / fashion director for the day) holding the light (SB-900 bounced into the 38″ umbrella again) at a slight overhead angle, we got this:
And so our day was done. And a pretty good day it was, too.
So how did I do with my stated goals from before the shoot?
- Simple compositions: I think I did pretty well here, though the nature of the location made it hard to keep all the visual clutter out of the shots; I think I mostly managed to only include what I wanted in the shot, but I also think that this is something I need to continue to work on.
- Shoot more horizontal images: Done. It took a little creative thinking at times, and there were times when portrait was the only way to go, but I’m pretty happy with this aspect of the shoot.
- Treat the shoot as a fashion editorial: Hmm. Not so sure on this one, but I have a forthcoming blog entry on the whys and wherefores of that, so I’ll not go on about it here.
- Keep it Clean: Mostly addressed above. But not once did I touch the vignette tool in post, and that’s something.
I’ve still got plenty to learn, though, and plenty that I’ve learned but need to put into practice:
- It’s almost impossible to have a stress-free fashion shoot if you don’t plan ahead and know at least some specific locations and lighting setups beforehand. It helps to keep the talent from being bored if you know what you’re doing where ahead of time, too.
- Having an assistant on a shoot like this would be extremely useful, not least because it makes things faster because you’re not having to stop shooting to set up lights. Also, the assistant can be setting up a new location whilst you’re finishing with the one you’ve already got set up.
- I need to practice my lighting more. More on this another time (I have plans).
- One Light is plenty.
- Take. Your. Time. If you don’t – either because you’re rushing yourself or you feel like you’ve got to rush to keep the talent happy (in which case you’re still rushing yourself) – you’ll end up finding out that you’ve got to junk a bunch of shots afterwards. This happens with every shoot, of course, but having good shots ruined by rushing is pretty galling.
Anyway, onward we go. Hopefully I’ll have another shoot before too long, and you can expect a KYH about that, too. Hope you enjoyed this one.