Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Model Shoot at Middle Head

Here are some stills, and a video, from a recent model shoot over at MiddleHead Fort in Sydney National Park. Stills are shot by Mike Clements and Ian Caldwell, while I shot the video footage and edited it with Adobe Premiere Pro.

Cool close-up of model Zoe by Mike Clements. Mike spent some time searching for good positions inside the old forts specifically for backgrounds. This is then a good example how an interesting background can lend great strength to a composition. It does NOT have to be deliberately blurred to still be visually effective.

So I really liked this shot by Mike too because: the exposure is spot on, the skin tones are really close to perfect and the pose is also pleasing to the eye. Getting a good 'body shape' is essential in shots like this, as is careful positioning of the arms and hands. Professional models spend a lot of time learning how to place themselves, and their limbs, in good positions. While Zoe does this well it's still critical to keep an eye on stray elbows, awkward angles, unflattering shadows that could otherwise ruin a decent shot.
After some discussion Mike went for a dark, 'Goth' type 'look' and so chose to post-process this to black-and-white. Good choice, but personally I was surprised to see this image as the result - to my mind it needs to be condsiderably darker in print - which should then lend credence to the 'dark' theme. So, this image turned out to be in complete contrast to what I thought I'd be seeing from Mike. The white borders make it look like a grandparents' photo album shot (this is the period when a white vignette was popular) and I don't think it works because I think a white vignette is more intrusive and certainly does not go so well with the hands holding the cross theme...
Here's another image that blends perfectly with the background textures. Though it's nowhere near the dark, Goth look that we started out with, it's quite well balanced - it could do with a tiny bit more height abive the head but it makes perfect use of the daylight streaming in through the doorway off to the right.
Very similar to the shot above but again beautifully done with excellent skin tones and lighting. Compositionally the off-centre framing works well - it could be even more off-centre to emphasise the dynamic structure of the frame - but not so much as to crop into the hair. The fill flash coming in from the right hand side works well to lift the hair detail without being intrusive.
This shot by Ian looks to be almost a carbon copy of Mike's portrait (above).  But with a slightly different pose. Everything - positioning in the frame, lighting and eye contact works well here but I can't help thinking 'why is she wrapped up like that?' OK, OK I know why, but most viewers might think it looks a tad strange?
Hard black-and-white. Now this is more like it - bang on the Goth theme - mood and ambience is great. Depth of black-and-white works well - I think it could go even darker. But this is exactly as I imagined the darker images might turn out like. I also think Ian could darken this more, removing almost all the detail in the background perhaps, making it almost subliminal in content.
Lovely shot but with the same reaction that I had with Mikes's posted shot. She looks as if she's been caught changing. (i.e. what happened to her wardrobe)
For me this is one of the best from the shoot - because model Zoe looks relaxed, the positioning is just right, exposure dead-on, skin tones shine and most importantly, Ian has captured her without an awkward-looking pose. Hands and arms are notoriously hard to arrange without them appearing heavy, big, out of place or clumsy. Everything 'gels' in this study.
The comarison between these two treatments is educational: two totally different results. On the day were going for the darker 'Goth' look (hence the Ethiopean cross) so, clearly, the black-and-white version is a hit with me - and its strong, graphic, look totally overrides the warm 'nice' feel the colour shot gives off. Amazing how you can dictate emotions simply by converting to black-and-white..
Black-and-white version from Ian Caldwell.

A bit of fun: My 'Incident at Middle Head' Video...


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