Film Noir Model Portfolio Shoot St. Petersburg Florida with Alexandra

These are actually post office steps! The neon in the background is real, though modified - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/4 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame left

I cannot say I explicitily intended for my model portfolio shoot with Alexandra to turn into a film noir style, but through editing of the images it certainly turned out that way.  We were shooting in the late evening from about 7:45pm to 8:25pm mostly around the Arcade in downtown St. Petersburg.  The Arcade is a great location offering a variety of shot opportunities, especially at that late time of day with all its shadow opportunities.  The above shot was actually the very last shot of the shoot.  The background features the neon sign of a cafe across the street with the contrast selectively turned up so that only what is illuminated by my speedlights and the neon remain visible.

Using long shadows created by a speedlight outside the gates - - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame leftI chose the Arcade as a shooting location because of the great, very tall, ornate, iron gates.  I knew they would make for a fantastic background and/or prop.  For the above shot I placed a speedlight outside the gates to frame left in the alley to help cast long shadows in the foreground.  I composed so to accentuate them.  Alexandra came up with a great pose taking my one small suggestion to create space between each arm and her body, something I always make sure is set otherwise the model will appear to have a lumpy body or strange attached arm.  Alexandra in fact did a great job overall allowing me to focus on creating mood and atmosphere with my lighting and composition.

The 43" brolly creates soft shadows, I love it - - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame left & Nikon SB-600 Speedlight @ 1/2 power with diffuser cap to frame leftThis shot features the same gates and lighting setup.  Without the speedlight outside the gates providing backlight, the gate on frame right would appear dull and lack the reflective light on it.  Additionally, the same speedlight provides rim light around the model, especially her hair, right arm and right side.  A photographer can do a lot with just two speedlights positioned in key spots.  I could carry all my strobist and photography gear that I used for this shoot myself, following the "lighten up and shoot" philosophy.

A single strobe setup with intentional background shadow - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4.5 ISO 400 1/160th Strobist: Nikon SB-800 Speedlight @ 1/8 power in 43" brolly to frame rightThis shot is different than all the others in that it features only one speedlight positioned to create Rembrandt lighting (nose & cheek shadows touch leaving a little light under the eye) on the model.  I wanted to include one soft feeling image in the shoot as most of the others were really strong from a posing and overall feel perspective.  

Thank you again to Alexandra.  You can follow her work on Model Mahem and Facebook.

Model Portfolio Shoot at the new Dali Museum St. Petersburg Florida with Abby

Model Portfolio Shoot - Abby with New Dali Museum background - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/4 ISO 640 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 Speedlight to frame left & SB-600 Speedlight behind model

I was first in contact with model Abby back in October when she was in the process of moving to and getting settled in St. Petersburg.  We were able to schedule a model portfolio shoot this week on a beautiful Florida winter evening using the new Dali Museum as a backdrop, a location I had been wanting to use for awhile.  

Abby surrounded by bokeh using "sandwich lighting" - Nikon D300 Nikkor 105mm VR Micro @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right both @ 1/4 powerNot only did I get to try out a new location for this shoot, but also some new strobist techniques, like what I am calling the "sandwich lighting" technique seen in the photograph above.  I placed one speedlight on each side of Abby with no front or backlight intending to create dramatic and defining shadows.  The bokeh is a result of lights strung on trees.  

Abby was a tireless jumper! - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame right about 45 degrees eachWhen I first mentioned my thoughts for this shoot with Abby, I said I wanted to make some of the images dynamic, involving motion in some way.  She was all for a jumping shot and I did not realize while shooting just how many times she jumped until I started the editing process at home and saw over 20 shots to choose from!  Abby's vertical leap is very impressive.  This was a fun shot to make.

Abby among the ribbons of the wishing tree at the Dali Museum - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/200th natural lightWe started out the shoot with some natural light shots around what I call the "wishing tree" behind the Dali Museum where visitors tie their entrance bracelts to long green ribbons, often with wishes or messages written on them.  

A famous Dali melting clock on a bench with model Abby - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/4 ISO 200 1/200th natural lightAnyone familiar with Dali's work will recognize the melting clock image.  This is part of a bench in the very nice grounds surrounding the museum.  I had Abby start by lying down on the bench, but I found myself liking this pose much more as overall I was looking to make less traditional model looking images.

A view of downtown St. Petersburg behind model Abby - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 just to camera left & SB-600 to model's rightOver the course of the shoot Abby and I found out that we have some very rare things in common, including our college majors, having visited Thailand and that our parents currently live in the same small area of Florida.  Along with Abby's ability to come up with numerous, great poses, this made the shoot one of my most enjoyable ever.

 Dali lights up at night in this model portfolio shot - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/4 ISO 400 1/20th Strobist: SB-800 to left of camera & SB-600 behind modelWe started the shoot at the ideal time allowing us to begin with natural light shots, moving toward twilight shots before ending with some night shots making use of the lights of the Dali Museum for the background.

Lens flare on purpose modeling portfolio image - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightIt was very nice to meet and work with Abby and I would recommend her for anyone who needs a model for a project as she is professional, very easy to work with and of course beautiful.  You can see more of her work on Model Mahem.

Safety Harbor Spa Florida Commercial Model Shoot

Safety Harbor Spa - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/60th Strobist: SB-800 to frame right SB-600 to frame leftSafety Harbor Spa provided the backdrop for a commercial photography fashion shoot for a magazine featuring several models.  All the models were fun to work with and helpful, even offering to assist me in carrying some of my strobist gear around.  Much obliged.  Nancy is featured in the above shot, which turned out to be my favorite shot of the day, and I later found out it was the magazine editor's favorite too.  This shot was made in the "History Room" of the spa.  The dog statue was moved into the shot purposefully.  The spa staff later told me that many consider the statue to be haunted.  People claim it moves by itself and some even have said it tried to bite them!  It did have a mean stare if looked at from a certain angle, but I touched it and it only felt like cold bronze to me.

Safety Harbor Spa model shoot - Nikon D300 Nikkor 80-200mm @ f/5.6 ISO 200 1/200th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightAlthough we shot at many different spots both inside and on the grounds of Safety Harbor Spa, the History Room was by far my favorite.  Young model (just 15!) Julie poses in front of an oil painting at the far end of the long and well furnitured History Room.  The length of the room allowed me to use my preferred Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens for this shot.

Safety Harbor Pier - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/160th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThe first shooting of the morning though was of the gentlemen out on Safety Harbor Pier.  The sun was already fast rising in the sky and with minimal space to place my speedlights, it was a bit of a logistics as well as photographic challenge to produce the above shot featuring Luke.  I wanted to incorporate leading lines and a bit of a vanishing point in the shot.

Safety Harbor Spa - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/9 ISO 200 1/160th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightJulie again in this shot showing very good balance and flexibility allowing for what I feel is a bit of an Aloha State themed image.  If you have never photographed professional models before, I recommend hiring one for a shoot of your own and experiencing just how much easier it is to produce photographs when the subject already knows how to pose well.  Another option is to do a free TF (trade-for) shoot with a model where each exchanges time in order to build their respective portfolios.

Safety Harbor Spa - Nikon D300 Tamron 17-50mm @ f/11 ISO 200 1/160th Strobist: SB-800 to frame left & SB-600 to frame rightThere was a makeup artist, hair stylist and fashion director that all worked together with the models helping me be able to photograph six models in total at eight different locations all in under four hours.  Thanks a lot everyone, it was challenging fun.

5-Minute Model Shoot - Nicole "Daydream"

Model: Nicole, friend of the Lighten Up and Shoot crew

Nicole was the model the Lighten Up and Shoot guys brought for the meetup yesterday.  As the turnout was quite large, she was naturally surrounded by photographers from the get go.  I am not into squeezing in amongst 20 other lenses.  I cannot photograph that way, so at first I just listened to Mike's wisdom on manual settings for off camera flash.  Later on I saw that Nicole was off by herself.  I asked her if she would not mind posing for a few (more) shots.  Being very professional she just immediately started into some great poses.  The above image was made in between poses and gave me a post-production theme of "daydream" for this set of photographs.  Of course on a regular model shoot I would have a theme locked in beforehand, and would have lots more time than just five minutes, and two other photographers would not be trying to trigger my speedlight as well.  So all things considered, I am pleased with the results Nicole and I were able to produce in such conditions, and I definitely hope to be able to work with her again.

The daydream continues . . . I really like how Nicole (or the MUA) applied her eye shadow.


I love working with models like Nicole that just go into poses naturally.


I was trying to make use of the strong backlight from the sun, and applied a bleach bypass filter. Do you think it works, or not?

Thanks again to Nicole for being a great model for so many yesterday.  

Model Shoot - Winter Romance with Glen & Johora in Sepia

Mother Nature provided perfect weather for our winter romance themed shoot in Saint Petersburg, Florida.

A long in the planning modeling shoot finally came together on a blustery and semi-arctic (for Florida) morning in Saint Petersburg which suited the shoot theme of "winter romance" perfectly.  Models Glen and Johora had no trouble fitting their wardrobe to the conditions.  I first met Glen earlier this year at a FACES fashion show at USF.  I asked him if he knew of anyone to do the winter romance shoot with and he invited Johora.  It is always great when the models are already friends as they will be at ease with each other and can chat away while I setup for the various shots.  

Despite the relatively early and chilly hour, Johora was constantly energetic.

As you can see, my love affair with the "sepia landscape" filter continues.  This is in part because I really like Silver Efex Pro and because last month I saw a lecture by master photographer, Pepito, who mostly only shoots in sepia.  His work really made an impression on me.

 Glen looking all business.We shot at five different locations in just over 90-minutes of shooting, all of which were a good distance apart, so this moving around kept every one from freezing solid.  I reluctantly wore a jacket myself as I am loathe to in Florida out of principal that it should always be warm here.

This shot was my idea. I saw the backlit tree and thought it could be a good prop.

The shoot was a lot of fun for me and it was good to get to know Glen more and to meet Johora.  We already started talking about doing a sunrise shoot come spring!

"A Night of Fashion" on USF Tampa Campus

A jabbawockeez inspired performance. I am a big fan of this style of dance. See Shaq with the jabbawockeez.

Last night's fashion and dance event at USF Tampa campus fully titled, "OMEGA PSI PHI presents 'A NIGHT OF FASHION,'" was quite the challenge to photograph.  Very little light.  No overhead light at all.  The little lighting there was, was in the form of hot area lights at basically eye level.  This translated into having to wait of dancers and models to body block the lights before pushing the shutter, or just choose to use the lights and get an effect like seen in the above photograph.

The leader of the Titans step team was very intense and thus a joy to photograph.

For one whole performance, the men's Titan Step Team was right in front of me the whole time.  The leader (above) had great charisma, and of course dance skills too.  After each portion of their routine, the men would stop and strike a self-fist bump pose.  It was not all serious though as they broke into a Bell Biv Devoe "Poison" breakdown that I could appreciate since that song was right from the heart of my time.

Of course there were plenty of ladies on the fashion runway too.

I quickly realized that my best of the bad light shooting spot was not on the map for a majority of the fashion models that strode out.  So in order to get some head-on shots I had to scamper around a bit, hither and thither.  Even then, I just could not get a totally sharp shot.

The performers, dancers and models all brought their "A" game.  The energy in USF's lower gym-cum-runway was palpable.  The Faces Modeling Troupe got the loudest response of the night.  I look forward to the next challenging to shoot fashion show and will take what I learned from this experience and hopefully have a higher success rate the next time.  But who knows what the lighting situation will be then?

Most of the fashion was very urban, from urban street to urban business attire.

Prepping for another fashion show shoot at USF Tampa

A model in the FACES Modeling Troupe of USF TampaI first met Roseanne and Fonso a few months back.  We did a shoot together at Sunken Gardens and had a great time.  They have since invited me to photograph events for FACES Modeling Troupe on the USF Tampa campus.  Tomorrow night is the next event:  Omega Psi Phi presents "A Night of Fashion."  (UPDATE: photos here)  These events are always very high energy and a lot of fun to photograph.  In between models on stage I like to chat with the crowd who are always very into it.  

Tonight I am going through my usual pre-shoot preparation by charging up all batteries, cleaning lenses, and last but not least securing contact numbers and directions to the shoot location!  I'll also reset the settings on my camera to insure I didn't forget to turn off bracketing from yesterday's sunrise HDR shoot, or the focus mode from shooting action shots of Kiki, etc. The last thing I'll do is format my memory cards.

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