After the success and enjoyable experience of Ashley Redding's first lighting tutorial at Twilight Photo Studio, it was music to my ears that there was to be a second session. Luckily all the Canon v Nikon banter hadn't put Ashley off and the second session was offered up front to those photographers who had attended the first session.
In short --> Yes!!
Immediately my name and Sharne's were in the pot for attending and the date was set for 1pm Saturday 1st February 2014. It was only then that I bothered to find out the workshop topic as I'd overlooked that important aspect in my eagerness not to miss out on another fantastic session. It was to be a shoot with Frankie Smith as model and an exploration on further lighting techniques. The subject matter and themes open to us as photographers to suggest. Now whilst I had undoubtedly learned a lot from session 1, being anywhere near thinking up themes for myself was still a horrifyingly unknown/untried concept. I faltered because in my own mind I wasn't yet good enough to be dictating what the rest of the group were to shoot. I replied that I'd go with the flow and maybe come up with stuff on the fly.
The morning of the workshop arrived and this time Sharne and I were more organised, well I say more organised but it consisting of grabbing a coffee for the journey and stopping off for another just around the corner from the Studio as we were early again. Seemed like good planning and an avoidance of waiting around time but in hind sight it provided the opportunity for 3 strong black coffees and a latté in the short space of 2 hours - BUUUUUZZZZZZZZZZ!!! This would go one of two ways haha.
The sun was out and for once in 2014, it was a beautiful day. We arrived at 1pm promptly and again were made incredibly welcome by Ashley Redding (organiser) and Yasmine Rock (studio owner (& model (but not for our group this time))). More coffee (top up that buzz) and lots more introductions- only 3 of the 6 photographers this time were from the first session due to availability and much to the distress of those not able to attend based on their comments on facebook. Oh and the Anti Canon banter from session one in November backfired as this time Canon outnumbered Nikon shooters - reprisals aplenty, made me feel like a Sony shooter being in such a minority (haha Sharne /joke).
It appeared that the only person who had proposed a theme as per Ashley's request, had suggested an eyes wide shut theme with masquerade ball masks and a hooded gown.
Just a side note here about Twilight Photo Studios, to maybe set the scene a little more. This is a relaxed environment based in Great Wakering, Yasmine's own house where she has set up rooms specifically for Photographers to use as studio settings. For example the first lighting workshop I attended there in November 2013 we shot against a paper roll studio backdrop set up in the spacious kitchen. (relaxed, informal and most importantly nearest the coffee).
Set up against a dark burgundy wall in the living room, we opted for a single strobe and large soft box as per this diagram to give a dark moody feel.
Of the few shots we took here under this setup with Frankie standing and another few with her sat on an arm chair, this picture is my favourite.
Up to this point, it was all great, everyone taking turns with the remote lighting trigger. One of the other photographers was leading on the posing and concept side because after all the Eyes Wide Shut idea had been his. It soon became clear though that Frankie was not overly clothed under the cloak, that is to say she was wearing only lingerie. This ended leading to me feeling slightly embarrassing when the eyes wide shut director guy directed Frankie to "lose the cloak". Embarrassing that is to someone (me) who was totally novice at portraiture let alone glamour type portraiture, hmmmm, not what I was expecting! Decision time, Succumb to the embarrassment or make use of the new experience and get the best possible tasteful images I could. Succumbing isnt my normal way so I blasted a few more frames out with the soul purpose of learning from the experience and these are the best results from that bunch:
As it was warm, perhaps from embarrassment or awkwardness, but certainly from lots of photographers, a tutor, a model and a rather warm modelling lamp on the strobe light, it was most certainly time for more coffee and a chance for Frankie to relax after about 40 minutes of non stop direction.
Over coffee it became clear that the sun was still shining and was in fact streaming in through the window by the sofa. A good chance to make the use of natural lighting and as a bonus we would not need to take turns as the sun doesn't require remote triggers hehe. This does however pose a different issue, in that one model to one photographer is a relatively simple arrangement for posing direction and snapping. Natural light on the other hand meant 1 model and now 6 photographers all vying for Frankie's attention and posing. As a model that doesnt normally do group shoots, this is where Frankie pleasantly surprised me by excelling and ensuring she gave all of us sufficient lens attention.
Lighting setup as per this diagram, illustrates my point about 1 Model with 6 Photographers:
By now it was approaching 15:00 and the light was visibly fading so I was worried that my little Nikon D3000 was going to struggle under low light conditions. From experience it is notoriously bad in low light conditions and even with a fast f1.8 50mm lens, the ISO was creeping up and I know from experience that anything over 800 ISO induces unnaceptable noise on the finished images. Arrrrgh... :)
In a way though, it did me a HUGE favour as it helped (or forced) me to cope in a difficult situation, knowing I was losing light and therefore quality I had to push the limits of my camera and my skills to get pictures with as little noise as possible but also as in sharp focus as possible and as correctly exposed as possible. Post processing can help but I like to get it as near to perfect in camera as I can. Well as perfect as a nervous, newbie beginner in that situation can be expected to. These are some of those shots, you make your mind up whether I got it right or not:
ANOTHER coffee, another break for Frankie and a decision made to use the bedroom at the back of the studio to maximise the remaining natural light which was setting behind the house. Ashley suggested reflectors and a strobe be kept on standby, should they be required.
This quick shot before everyone else was ready was opportune and one of my best of the day, taken in between proper "modelling" pictures and a very natural look in my opinion.
Set up as in this diagram (bear with me here there was no bed diagram so imagine the 2 sofas together makes a bed :) ) and we did use the white reflector at times too.
Between the light going in and out of clouds we were all able to capture some really nicely lit images, these two are taken purely with light from the window:
And this final picture was one captured with the white reflector just boosting the natural light from the window:
I think all in all the day was pretty awesome, embarrassing but a lesson in how to roll with unexpected punches and concentrate getting the best out of the camera under difficult conditions. Plus the low conditions being an issue that I overcame successfully means my camera doesnt need replacing yet! - OH WAIT HUMPH and POODOO, opposite to desired result haha. It does however also prove how good modern DSLRs are and even the 4 year old entry level ones at that.
A note on my post processing - this was the first real set of pictures that I had to let myself loose on Adobe Lightroom with and I tried deliberately to get different looks with each image. Just wanted to add that I LOOOVE Lightroom if you hadnt guessed.
So finally, we are all badgering Ash for the NEXT session already and this time I have my own ideas that I'm cultivating rather than shy away from them. The pictures in this post have shown that I have some potential interest with Portraiture even if not of the glamour variety. If you're reading this Ash and Yasmine - NEXT PLEASE!.