An afternoon with Elle Beth

An afternoon with Elle Beth
Elle Beth
Elle Beth

Two weeks ago today I had the pleasure of shooting Elle Beth for the first (and I hope not last) time.

The preparation for this shoot was frantic to say the least for the previous few weeks.  The reason was, I wanted to re-establish my ‘home studio’ in my 21’x42′ shed which since my last shoot two years ago filled up with life (‘junk’), needing more than a spring cleaning.  Three trailer loads of rubbish to the dump, a 10′ x 6′ floor area cemented in, remaining assortment of life boxed away and shelved; floors, kitchen area, bathroom cleaned; ready to start thinking about the shoot the day before!  I have to thank my wife Liz and our three children for helping out to have the space I needed 24hrs before the shoot began!

I wanted to try some dramatic fashion/dress ideas but was not really sure how this as going to work out.  Thankfully I was able to borrow some dresses (thanks Lorraine🙂 ), now I just wondered if the space and light could work…

Elle Beth
Elle Beth

It’s amazing how much thought is needed to get so few ingredients right in a set.  I notionally wanted some suspended lamps in the set to give a slightly surreal look.  However, I gave little thought to the actual lamps I picked up and only realised after posting an image and receiving the single comment “scarlet o’hara” how dated they were and perhaps not the best choice:-(  Never the less, after some additional post processing I’m pleased with the  results.

After about two hours of playing with dresses we tried some natural light portraits.  The available light was from a small square window 9 feet about the set facing west.  So for an afternoon shoot this gave some modicum of natural light, although it varied considerably since we are talking about Ireland.

Elle Beth
Elle Beth

Windows at the far end of the space gave nice  subtle rim lighting.  As the sun went in and out the lighting went from soft diffuse to harsh.  A big part of this shoot for me was discovering how to work with the available light in this space since I hope to put it to plenty of use in the future.  At times I was pushing my 50mm 1.4 lens at ISO 400,  F1.6.  Focusing was challenging and I had some soft eyes, but still managed to bag some great images.  Realistically I could have shot are 800 or 1600 ISO on my D700 and not had to worry so much.  I think from shooting so much landscape I still have a tendency to keep the ISO as low as possible when I really don’t need to.

With the remaining time (and light) we tried some art-nude poses.  Elle Beth worked her magic through a variety of poses with great energy.  I think I still need to work on my direction at this level, but this is one of my favourites from that set:

NiallCWhelan_20140831_549-Edit-BWMy studio still needs work, but the results of this shoot have given me lots of encouragement to keep improving.  I can look forward to a weather proof winter location to work on my photography.  I seem to be loosing my desire to get up for dawn landscape shoots, I guess it’s not surprising really!