FASHION EDITORIAL TAKE TWO: AUCKLAND CBD AND GLENBROOK

As a photographer who shoots 99% outdoor, I find it very satisfying to achieve shots on location, much more so than working on a set inside the studio. This is not to say studio shoots are any easier as they can go very complex sometimes but there’s just something special about dealing with so many variables shooting outside. The weather maybe unpredictable, the lighting is changing, the pedestrians, the uncontrollable surrounding environment…any of these factors could lead to disasters and add layers and layers of complexity to the shoot.

On our last and the very first editorial shoot we’ve set our goal, a creative vision and a shooting plan and as a team we had good success achieving them. We were determined to grow our shoot bigger. More partners, more models, more sophisticated storytelling and more depth. A competent novelist would write things don’t always go according to plan. And that’s probably true. We had to reschedule the shoot due to weather and time limitation, and on the rescheduled date one of the models couldn’t make it. The shoot was still going ahead and we had to improvise.

Thanks to our experienced fashion team with Hera and Rensfx, everything got pulled together pretty well. Our first shoot was about street glamour, to set the model in front of a character building in a beautiful dark couture with sharp makeup and styling. Based on my location scouting I was a bit anxious about the weather being too sunny. I was kind of hoping it would be overcast so lighting will be softer and thus easier to control. Thankfully it turned out fine, it was a sunny day but there were also a lot clouds hovering between us and the sun. It could be day and night difference having a good light to start with. Check out the two scouting shots I took between an overcast look and a clear sky look.

Lighting wise all of the shots were lid by a Profoto B1 with Profoto softlight reflector white \(Aka. beauty dish\) as main light, boomed above model’s face and a second B1 with gridded softbox behind the model as my rim. The beauty dish when used close to subject provides a soft but edgy look that is very sought after for fashion photography. And when backed off a bit it still produces a large enough even round light to light your subject. And other distinctive advantage of the beauty dish is that it’s made of metal so much heavier than the XL umbrella thus you won’t see it flying off your light as my XL umbrella did at the airport during our last shoot. I used an Avanger C-stand to firmly support my B1 and the BD. At some point during out shoot the lady from Flight Centre next to where we were shooting at complained to us that our light was actually flashing into their office \(really?\) , but simply putting a honeycomb grid on the BD solved the problem as all the light got directed forward. Another problem we had to deal with was constant disruption of pedestrians walking in and out of the building during busy CBD lunchtime. We also famously bumped into many friends who work in the city although those weren’t really problems. LOL. We just had to put up with that and shoot as fast as we could to get us out of there. A good team really made things a lot easier.
After a short lunch break, we headed to Glenbrook vintage railway station which is approximately 50 minutes drive from Auckland CBD. For this look we were going for a softer goddess appeal which means we were going to blend in the flash with ambient light as natural as possible. Nothing should be overpowering. To achieve that we stuck to our B1+BD white combo as main light and used my other B1 with Profoto magnum reflector as rim to highlight my model. Because the magnum produces sun-like contrasty light so I had to watch out carefully on where I positioned it. The good thing about this particular light modifier is that it adds about one stop of power to your flash so you can really dial down the setting to save power. This is really Godsend when you are working with battery powered strobe like the B1s.
At the end of the day editorial shoots like this is not just about getting the best images possible but also taking the collaborative opportunity for everyone to be creative. An effective team, a good photoshoot experience and a good fun are just equally important. Bringing home good photos for everyone’s hard work was the icing on the cake. We are in the middle of organizing out next photoshoot so stay tuned!

**Formal Credit:**
Gown Designer: Katie Yeung @ Hera Bridal - herabridal.co.nz
Model: Brianna Butler-Gallie @ Red Elevent Models Talent Management - red11.co.nz
Makeup & Hair Stylist: Kelly Ren @ RensFx - rensfx.com
Assistant Stylist: Vivia Gao @ RensFx
Photographer: Felix Wu @ CreationHeart Photography - creationheart.com
Cinematographer: Mike Chen @ Mighty Image - mightyimage.co.nz
Video Editor: Felix Wu @ CreationHeart Photography

AUCKLAND FASHION EDITORIAL SHOOT

Good to be back blogging! Ever since the quiet launch of my current website I have gone completely silent social media wise. I suspended my old blogsite, no facebook presence and no updates over the past whole year. For one, it’s been a lot going on in 2014 personally - I am now married to my lovely wife Lucy and it’s been a very exciting journey so far. On the other hand, there’s a paradigm shift in my photography which I find equally reassuring. :P

As a working photographer, whether you are shooting weddings, portraits, fashion, products or any genre of photography, we have been trained and trained to produce consistent results. We get paid for consistency, to be able to produce consistently high quality images in any kind of given situations. It’s rewarding when you know you are in control out that, seeing beautify images right out of the back of your camera.

A team of us commenced a photoshoot project just before the end of 2014. So every month or two we put together our brains and creative ideas and work on one fashion editorial shoot. Being our first hit it was a really good collaborative effort and a great success. At the top you will find a behind the scene video from out first shoot out and down below you will find some final images.

We were privileged to be able to shoot at Ardmore Airport in South Auckland. Those war planes at Warbirds NZ surely added extra punch to the shots. Our first set up was shot under a bright noon sun, so in order to achieve absolute control I had to work with some powerful strobes. For that the Profoto monolights were perfect for the task. I chose two Profoto 1000W/s D1’s powered by Profoto Batpac generator and a cordless all-in-one 500W/s B1 to allow maximum powerful and flexibility. My D1 as main light was attached to a Umbrella Deep Silver XL to give a beautiful wrap around contrasty light, while the second D1 shoots through the 180cm strip softbox with front diffuser removed, directly on the bottom of the wings to fill the shadows. The Batpac wasn’t the fastest generator but it was manageable since we didn’t need rapid firing. B1 was fitted with a Magnum to boost its power as a back light, it’s what gave the plane a glow from the back. The combination worked really well and everyone was pleased with the deep blue sky.

As there’s the little time left we moved inside the hanger where two planes are sitting at the dark corners. With the limitation of a three light set up we had to use all the lights effectively. To light a model and two large planes with only three lights could be a tricky business, provided with did not have plenty of time allowance as well. I decided to add a bit of drama to the photo by including the two light sources in the frame. I put the bare B1 on the far right and the bare D1 on the far left where there’s mains power available. The beautiful umbrella silver XL was the main light as usual. This became an easy shot.

The last image was actually created just on a piece of tall grass area 1min away from the hanger. Our talented stylist Kelly hand made the headpiece on the spot, with everything available to us on the field. However, we had direct overhead sun casting shadows all over the model’s face so again we would need to overpower the sun in order to get rid of the shaows. To do that I used only the B1 paired with umbrella XL slightly above model’s face, after a few test shots we were ready to go. The Air TTL-C remote really made adjusting output a breeze.

Overall we had a smooth day. Thanks to the great location, great prop, great weather and most importantly a great team together: Ashleigh Cole ( gorgeous Red11 Model), Katie Yeung (boutique dress designer at Hera Bridal), Kelly Ren (fabulous makeup and hair stylist at RensFx), Susan Wang (assistant stylist) and Michael Hsu (creative cinematographer at ExpressioNZ). Looking forward to next working together.

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