March 5, 2013
photographic composition, posing, light & lighting – when it all comes together
I just love this photograph of Anastasia Z, and want to share some of the through-process in how it came together.
To test the Canon EOS 6D camera (B&H) and the Canon 24-70mm f4.0L IS lens (B&H), I met up with Anastasia Z in New York. I scouted this area with my friend, Peter Salo, while we were waiting for Anastasia who was running a touch late. Just as well we scouted earlier on, because it was freezing outside.
I saw the way this building over the Highline in Manhattan was creating this jagged shape with strong lines. I also knew the staggered vertical lines would work well, silhouetted against the winter sky. When we met up with Anastasia, we discussed an approximate plan of where we’d shoot .. including somewhere inside eventually. But I wanted to try this one specific idea first – right here.
So, knowing more or less what I wanted, we walked towards this spot. On our way there, I did try out an idea, but it didn’t quite hang together, and I dropped it to get to this place where I knew the idea would work.
So here’s how this photograph came together with just three test images …
March 4, 2013
Anastasia from Neil van Niekerk on Vimeo.
using the Canon EOS 6D in movie mode (model: Anastasia)
To test the Canon EOS 6D camera (B&H) and the Canon 24-70mm f4.0L IS lens (B&H), I met up with Anastasia Z in New York. She had such presence and confidence, that while shooting stills of her earlier in the day, I had an idea of a video sequence we could do. And with that, here is an overview of how well the Canon 6D fares as a video camera.
So when the light levels starting falling this afternoon, we went to Times Square, which is always insanely lit up by the numerous billboards. An ever-changing flood of light from every direction.
This 30 second clip is an edit from about 12 clips I shot of her. We had to work fast since it was freezingly cold, especially with the wind blowing. We’d work out a sequence while she had her warm jacket on, and then she’d hand it over to my friend, Peter Salo, who assisted us. Then we’d shoot a sequence quickly, before she popped the thicker jacket on again, and tried to warm up a little bit again.
Even with having to shoot fast, and only being able to shoot limited sequences, I am very happy with the results. It definitely shows what an energetic and sensational model, Anastasia Z is. (If you’re a New York photographer, check her out on Model Mayhem.)
More techie info about the video clip, and about the Canon 6D …
February 18, 2013
lingerie photo session with studio flash – model: Olena
During this same photo session with Olena - the first in my new studio space - we also worked with just the studio flashes. Actually, this part of the photo session was first. An easy setup just to get things rolling.
Oh, the best part perhaps of this part of the photo session – I got to try out the Canon 6D (B&H). It’s an impressive camera! (More to come in a review article.)
We used two lights here – the main light was a Profoto D1 head in the massive Westcott 7′ Parabolic Umbrella (B&H). It’s an easy light modifier to use, since it gives a wrap-around light that is very forgiving. Forgiving to how the photographer places the light, and also forgiving to the subject – not that Olena really needed that!
The background light was another Profoto D1 head with a Profoto 7″ reflector (B&H) and a Profoto 10 degree grid (B&H).
February 14, 2013
lingerie photo session: video light & studio flash – model: Olena
With my new studio space pretty much ready, I’ve been itching to actually use the studio with a photo session there. Olena is a model that I’ve worked with once before during an individual photography workshop in New York, and I was really impressed with her, but we never quite got the opportunity to do further photo sessions. So this was a good opportunity to shoot in my new studio, and re-acquaint with a wonderful model. (Here is Olena’s model mayhem portfolio.)
We shot several outfits, using different lighting setups. This one is interesting because of the simplicity of the setup – using a 1×4′ softbox to control the light, and a Lowel ID-Light (B&H) as a back-light to give that warm glow to her hair. It really helped enhance the intimate feel of the sequence of photographs.
Here is the pull-back shot that will show how the lights were placed.
January 28, 2013
lighting a boudoir photo session – Carla Starla
“We want it to look Fashion-y and Retro. And a little glamorous.” “But I don’t want it to be like a bridal hairdo!” No wonder the hair-dresser was confused by these vague instructions from myself and the model, Carla. The hair-dresser really looked like she was under pressure, wondering if she’d be able to come up with something fabulous enough to be all of that. Fashion-y and Retro and Glamorous.
Carla is a friend (and previous bride), and we’ve been trying to get it together for a photo session for a few years now. But life, work and conflicting schedules kept interfering. But this weekend it all came together – even down to the hair styling which looks fabulous.
The look we wanted with this boudoir photo session, was that the images should have a retro feel to then. With that in mind, we had her hair styled in a complementary way, even if we didn’t have a clear description of that. The post-processing of the photos were also done with that in mind, consistent with the theme.
I’d like to show two of the final images from this photo session, along with the lighting setup.
January 14, 2013
photography composition: working toward the final image
When I first immersed myself in photography way way back, it took me a while to realize that what I see in a magazine or book, isn’t necessarily the first image. Those incredible images that can inspire us, (or even make us just want to give up photography), most often are not fully-formed masterpieces. Most often, the photograph that we as the viewer are presented with, are but one of a series. One photograph that stood out, or where the elements in the photograph were controlled by the photographer. And even with the work of hardcore photo-journalists, what we see, have been “controlled” and “adjusted”, even if only in terms of lens choice and composition.
With that realization, I felt less intimidated by the great photographs that I saw. They had become more accessible in a way, and more attainable to me as a new photographer.
Photographs with impact or appeal could come to be because of serendipity or foresight and careful planning by the photographer. Quite often it’s just recognizing the potential of a scene, and working with it to finesse the elements, such as the composition or lighting or, with portraits, the pose.
So it is with this photograph of Jessica Joy, taken just before we started the photo-shoot mentioned in the article, colored gels with flash photography. The final result shown here, is a little bit of everything – a wonderful subject, an opportunity, and then over the course of several photographs, finessing it.
While I really like this image, and think of this as the final image that I want to present, it didn’t just “happen” as the first and only image. There was an entire sequence leading up to it. It is this first recognition of a potentially good photograph, and then the thought-process in the sequence, that I want to show here.
December 24, 2012
bounce flash portrait & Photoshop retouching technique
When we were done with the studio shoot with Ulorin Vex, we still had a few minutes left, so I thought I could do a bounce flash portrait as well. Just for a comparison of sorts to show that on-camera bounce flash can give interesting results too. Here is the low-key portraits we did with the Profoto set-up.
The only semi-interesting background I could find in the studio (that wasn’t a white wall), was this grungy green door to one of the store-rooms. I thought it might work as a gritty urban setting. I shot about eight frames in the tight corner, but didn’t like what I saw on the back of my camera, so called it a day. We were done.
Looking through the images again today, cleaning up my hard drives, I hovered over the first image I took and thought it might hold some promise still if I worked it a little bit in Photoshop. Here is where I started …
December 18, 2012
photo session in New York – model: Sarah R
I have already showed part of the photo session with Sarah Raley, in the article, vintage photo session w/ off-camera flash. It was part of a longer on-location photo session in New York. With four changes of clothing, we aimed for a diverse look during the photo session. I’d like to share some of them here, along with some of the lighting techniques, and post-processing.
Most of the photos were taken with the Canon 5D mark II (B&H), and two zooms:
the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II (B&H), and Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (B&H).
What made the photo session easier in terms of the lighting, was the built-in radio capability of the superb Canon 600EX-RT speedlights (B&H).
With a $400 rebate until Dec 31, the Canon 5D mark II (B&H) is available right now for an incredible $1,600 from B&H. Of course, with the release of the new Canon 6D (B&H) for $2,100 it is a tough decision. Then there is also the Canon 5D mark III (B&H), which is in my opinion the best value for awesomeness.
Onto the photographs …
December 3, 2012
New York photo session with Sarah & Mark – off-camera flash
Sarah and Mark were in New York, dressed to the nines, to attend the Rockettes show. And while they were dressed up, and with some time before the show they were attending, we did a photo session. You might remember them as the couple in my book, off-camera flash. I’ve also photographed Sarah on other occasions. I thought that the New York skyline at dusk would work as a perfect backdrop to how stylish they were dressed. (I did ask Mark if he felt like James Bond, all suited up like that in his tux.)
The lighting setup was straight-forward. The main light was a speedlight in the Lastolite Hot Shoe EZYBOX Softbox Kit (24″x24″) (B&H). The rim-light was another speedlight behind them, with the plastic diffuser cup on. Here is the pull-back shot …
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November 28, 2012
studio photography – lingerie photo shoot
Aiming for a sensual mood somewhere between Lingerie, Fashion and Art, I tried various lighting setups in the studio to get to the feel and look that I envisioned. I’ve worked with Carly Erin on other personal photo shoots before, and knew her playful and bold personality would help a lot with this photo session.
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