Jemima Fine Art Series

One of my new year’s resolutions is to shoot some personal project work alongside the wedding photography I do with Sam. I think we’ve pretty much established that I’m a ‘people photographer’ (just can’t get out of bed early enough to photograph landscapes) and there are quite a few specific disciplines I’d like to try.

At some point during 2016, I’d like to work towards having a go at:

  • A fashion/magazine editorial style shoot.
  • Create at least one Conceptual Art image.
  • Shoot professional dancers (in rehearsal or on location).
  • Create some ‘fine art’ inspired images.
  • A ‘trash the dress’ shoot.

Not sure how I’m going to go about some of these yet. Need to be imaginative, determined and willing to step out of my comfort zone. I’ve got off to a good start though with a mini shoot I did last weekend with the intention of creating a couple of fine art style images…

The idea was inspired by the work of some of my favourite fashion-art photographers, e.g. Emily Soto, and would require a basic portrait image that I would later manipulate in post-production to apply colour and texture effects to create an overall painterly result.

My friends’ daughter, Jemima, features regularly in my work and has become a really great model and someone who’s always happy to try out some new idea I’ve had. I can’t afford to splash out money on makeup artists and stylists for non-commercial work, so Jayshri (Mrs B) and Jemima’s sister, Poppy, got roped into doing the hair and makeup. To suit the final image, I wanted a slightly vintage feel to the styling. None of the girls have a vintage dress, so we actually ended up using Jayshri’s wedding dress and jewellery (we both think it’s great that it’s getting used again for something, at least). I wanted Jemima’s hair ‘up’, so J and P recreated a ‘messy up-do’ look from a video we found on YouTube. Makeup is always a bit experimental when I do these things. I know that I like my models to have dark/smokey eyes, but that’s about as descriptive as I usually get.

I used a Nikon D810 SLR with Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 G lens (my favourite) and a single Profoto B2 Air with 3’x1′ OCF soft box at about 45 degrees camera-right. I’d also setup another Nikon flash in SU-4 slave mode which I aimed at the grey seamless backdrop, but in the end, I didn’t use it as I was happy with the level of background illumination for the style of image I’d envisaged.

While we were shooting, I could see through the windows that the bullrushes in the marsh across the paddock looked rather interesting and might make a reasonable background for pic outside. So, once we were finished indoors, we all braved the cold (and the sheep) and spent ten minutes capturing some fashion style portraits out by the fence.

Just wanted to say something about the Profoto B2. I was lucky enough to get mine just before Christmas and this was the first occasion I’ve had a proper chance to use it. It has a separate battery pack with carry-case and strap that Jay wore over her shoulder. Even with the 3’x1′ Profoto OCF soft box mounted, the head is really very light and Jay had no trouble holding it in the right position when attached to a light stand. All the indoor photography was taken in Manual mode on my Nikon, with manual flash power output adjusted by trial and error. For the shots outdoors, I switched to Aperture Priority (Av mode, if you’re a Canon user) and TTL with High Speed Sync (HSS) as I was shooting at about f/1.4 and 1/800th of a second. Adjusting the flash compensation is incredibly easy using the on-camera Air Remote trigger (which has been 100% reliable so far), but I found that I got the look I was after this time by dialling in -0.7 EV’s of exposure compensation to darken the background. It’s quite and expensive piece of kit, but pretty awesome and just what I want for some of the location work I want to try out.

As usual, I’ve used Lightroom and Photoshop for basic adjustments and retouching, and then added some colour grading, textures and the damaged border effect in Alien Skin Software’s Exposure 7. Lastly, I transferred back to Photoshop to mask out some of the texture effect from parts of the image I didn’t want it to appear, and some final adjustments to colour curves and contrast.

Below are a few behind the scene images and a little video I took while waiting for Jemima to get ready.

Steve

Jemima trying to keep warm in a massive coat while I tested the exposures and B2. First image is pretty much what the camera decided was right, but I added in -0.7 EV’s to darken the background a little for a more dramatic look. The second image is an alternative edit of my favourite shot.

Short BTS video of our setup…

Posted bySteve Butler

"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst." - Henri Cartier-Bresson

2 thoughts on “Jemima Fine Art Series”

  1. You already know that I love these shots! But I’ll say it again, they are gorgeous!

    I really like the alternate edit of the more fashion like image.

    So nice to see your goals written down, I strongly believe that you will make it happen. Enduring 12 hours+ at a wedding you can do anything, right ;)?

    Thanks for sharing, I really enjoyed seeing the BTS images and the video again.

    To put it shortly, I’m impressed, dear friend <3

    1. Thank you for all the lovely things you’ve said. ❤️

      It makes me really happy doing the kind of photography where I’ve had an idea, sketched it out, mobilised a little team and then implemented my plan for a shoot. Pretty sure the training for my day job has helped me feel okay in organising that kind of project. I definitely want to do more, but all my ideas at the moment seem to involve flowers, girls in diaphanous dresses, fab locations and sunshine!

      Roll on Spring!

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