A little backstory on this season's Halloween photo. This is an image from one of two different "test shoots" I did recently as a trial run for the new 1800's library set I just built for our upcoming winter photography shoot. Being that Halloween is coming up I wanted a suitably gothic subject so I chose the legend of "Vasilisa The Beautiful." For those unfamiliar with the story it's the Eastern European legend of a young Russian maiden who is kidnapped by a tragic, undead knight named Kashi, the Deathless. Kashi is immortal because of an unfortunate encounter with a witch, who trapped his soul in a needle, which was then trapped in an egg (which was trapped in a duck that was trapped in a etc, etc but that's another story).
According to legend Vasilisa escapes when she kills Kashi by breaking the egg, which had been retrieved by a heroic knight named Ivan who had just arrived to rescue her from Kashi’s castle. Heartbroken, Kashi's last images of this world are that of his beloved Vasilisa betraying him to this heroic, young knight.
However… a lesser know part of the tale is that whoever has possession of Kashi’s soul also controls Kashi himself. So this got me thinking. What if Vasilisa decided she wasn’t so helpless after all? I could imagine Vasilisa sitting there, caressing the newly recovered egg, as Kashi and Ivan battle over her destiny, and realizing…
“hmmm… this egg… MY egg… my… precious!”
Then, boldly, she stands to face the two warriors and presents the egg. But, instead of breaking it, she turns. And walks away.
“Kashi… kill him!”
So what would Vasilisa “the Beautiful” be like ten, twenty, maybe even a hundred years after that fateful day? How would her murder of Ivan and constant possession of this cursed, undead soul (it’s really more of a horcrux, right?) change her? Perhaps instead of a princess she would become… a Queen! Beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!”
Sound familiar? It’s a fascinating thought to me. I love exploring the idea of “falling to our temptations.” So the purpose behind this photo is to give a glimpse of Vasilisa years later, master of Kashi, lord of her kingdom, “beautiful and terrible, both adored and feared. Herself now trapped by immortality and her bond to this cursed, undead soul, she lives our her beauty amongst the bones of the future she chose not.
I learned a lot on these two test shoots (and I’ll post the image from the other shoot as we get closer to Halloween) and I had to fix a ton of my bad decisions in post. I’ll see if I can post a few videos of me “fixing” these images over the next week or so. Ultimately, it’s the incomparable talents of my Vasilisas, Alexandra Renee and Inna Zagariya, who made these images what they are.
This was shot on a Pentax K3 with a Pentax DA 35mm f2.8 Limited lens.
1/125, f3.2, ISO100
Lighting was provided by 6 Yongnuo 560mkII speedlights triggered by a 560TX. I had one light in the upper right corner of the window with no modifier (outside shining in). I had two on either side of the model using Gamilight Box60 striplight modifiers (to pop her from the background), one key light to my upper left using a Gamilight Square43 modifier, and the other two using Gamilight Spot2 snoots specifically to illuminate the glitter on the subjects body and in the fabric. Color was added via various shades of blue gels. Model and MUAH was the fabulous Alexandra Renee.
Here is an image from the first photography workshop I hosted, a "Steampunk Springtime." Two years later and we are still going strong!
Here are some images from my fashion editorial shoot with Portland, Or couture fashion designer, Shell Bell Vanity. Here we wanted to focus the "hotter," more festive feel of these accessories. Great work by our model, Arianna, as well! Check out our gallery for some of the other fashions we captured on this shoot!
For our Fall 2015 workshop I decided to revisit a movie that had left a big impression on me when I was a child; Jim Henson's 1982 classic "The Dark Crystal." The concept was a "reimagining" of the movie's main characters, evolving them thousands of years and, well, putting them in a fashion show. We recreated the Gelfling ruins from the original movie and reached out to local fashion designers to assist us with our vision, enlisting the help of Adam Arnold and two time "Project Runway" winner Seth Aaron. This is our "fashion Skeksis" rocking an increadible Seth Aaron evening dress.
And here is our "evolved" Gelfling fashionista, rocking a pair of Fluevog boots and a Fizzgig handbag. Arianna doing a great job bringing out her inner elf.
Here are some more images from my fashion editorial shoot with Portland, OR based couture fashion designer, Shell Bell Vanity. We tried for a more cinematic feel with these pieces. The Gamilight lighting modifiers worked great for this and the feel was pulled off fabulously by our model, Arianna! Check out our gallery for some of the other fashions we captured on this shoot!
I was in Portland, OR recently the Da-Da Salon to shoot a series of images fro Event Cosmetics. While I was there Alexandra and I decided to experiment a bit using a single-light, high-key lighting setup I had seen in a recent article by Jack Hicks Photography, published on PetaPixel. In this setup he had cut a hole in a standard 40 inch reflector which he set up in front of the model, with a large light source directly behind the model (in my case I used my Paul C Buff White Lighting 1200 with a 64 inch PLM). Then you shoot through the hole in the modifier and it acts like a super big, super soft ring light! It took quite a bit of dialing in to get the lighting where I wanted it and, even then, I had some challenges with a loss of contrast due to the dynamic range between the super-bright background and the relatively low amount of reflected light coming back to the model (not to mention the amount of light spill pointing directly into the PLM). However, once I got things dialed in I was really happy with the results! You can see Jake Hick's original article here, try it out and see what you think of this lighting setup!
For our winter workshop we converted the Dark Crystal Reimagined set into a Celtic inspired "Winter Forest Fantasy," complete with carvings of the Celtic "Tree of Life," thirteen fresh-cut winter alders, German glass glitter, and over 60 gallons of snow. Portland, OR couture fashion designer Shell Bell Vanity decided she wanted to use it to showcase her "European inspired" winter collection.
This was one of the shoots I used for my Gamilight Octave 53 lighting modifier review. The location was Bridal Veil Falls on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge, just outside of Portland and was a lovely place to shoot. I was very happy with the results, especially considering we had a couple lights take a swim in the river. Be sure to check out the other half of this "test" of the Gamilight Octave 53 in the "Urban Fashion Octave 53 Test" gallery, as well as full Octave 53 review here.
This is one of the test sessions I did with Alexandra Renee for a review I was writing for the Gamilight Octave 53 lighting modifier. For this test I wanted a wide variety of images, so we started out with a few long-exposures at a Max light-rail station in Portland, OR before moving to some portraits at OHSU. We finished the session with a more "fashion" look at a very colorful location we found by the waterfront. I have included a couple images showing my placement of the modifier as well. Be sure to check out the "River Beauty" session I did with Alexandra Renee as a part of this review. Oh, and you can find the full review here!
I recently picked up a few colored flash gel sets from Jack Hicks Photography and tested them out on a couple shoots with my speedlights and Gamilight flash modifiers. I was really impressed with range of colors available but have a long way to go before I get proficient with this lighting technique. Check my blog for a formal review!