A walk in the park

Posted on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I have been shooting a lot over the summer.  It is starting to get colder over here now and I know it will be time soon to change gears; summer wear will soon be cruel to have people wearing.  All summer long, I connected with many interesting people and made plans to shoot with them but let’s face it, there are only so many warm days left so some concepts will have to be redesigned.  The weather is also becoming unstable as we are entering full speed into our rain season.  Shooting in the rain can definitely produce incredible images but can also be really hard on equipment, especially when you are shooting far from a shelter.


Last weekend presented great weather.  Well, Sunday afternoon was great, the rest was cloudy.  I had planned to work with Abla Chejai for a while now.  Back in June, after shooting in a field, Abla had contacted me to see if it would be possible to do something similar but when you are living in Montreal with no car, you soon realize Montreal is quite limited in field offerings.  We met face to face for the 1st time in St-Jean-de-Matha while I was shooting with Nancy and Abla with Davis.  Davis and Abla were shooting right next to me so all day long, I was able to peek and get ideas brewing.  When we reconnected later, we decided on shooting in a wooden area.  The 1st location popping in my head was Mount Royal, Montreal’s green space.


We met last Sunday at Abla’s place.  Nathy Fong was there to do the makeup.  It was all together the 1st collaboration of this trio.  In such case, you never know what to expect (well, with a bit of research you do but still, surprises are part of everyone’s daily lives…); the model could have been a diva, the makeup artist applying makeup like an 8 year old paint by numbers and the photographer an auto settings affectionado.


Nathy’s work was exceptional!  She was very effective.  She had an image in mind and delivered it.  After the makeup was done, we reviewed the clothing alternatives put together by Abla and off to the mountain we went.  I soon realized that although I was bringing only a small amount of gears, the traveling distance between my truck and the photoshoot location would have to be somewhat limited; the camera bag, the Alien Bee, the Vagabond, the Apollo,  the 2 light stands and the reflector would have the best of me sooner than later.  I aimed at the 1st off path trail I saw.  It was perfect as it was offering what I was looking for (and more as I will be returning to that spot for another concept shot that keeps being postponed).  Being in the woods with the sun high in my back, I opted for the flash to start with.  We then moved to a combination of flash and reflector and finished with the reflector only.  This is where I realized that Nathy is not only an amazing MUA but also a great lighting assistant!


I had plans to move to a second location after the 2nd makeup would be completed but given the time it was and the warm 4pm light getting on us, I thought we could spend a few minutes in the park area we were in rather than going back in the woods.  Turned out to be a good decision as we spent the rest of the day in that one spot.


When shooting in a public space with high traffic, be aware of what is going on around you.  Chances are you might end up being on someone’s way like when you are setting up lights in a small trail.  When you see that jogger coming your way, move aside, move your light, smile at them and then reset.  It is better than forcing someone off path, falling down or running into your gears.   Be also very aware of your background.  When we were shooting in the park, we had obviously people walking in the background.  I tried to time myself as much as possible to have the less people I could behind Abla.  You need to notice the nice people who stop walking so they don’t get in your shots.  When that happens, lower your camera, tell them not to worry about it, smile and say thanks.  It may seem very basic but so important.  Tourists will be looking at you, possibly take a picture of you.  Make sure your encounter with them remains a good memory.  You never know who you are going to meet anyway.


The shoot turned better than expected.  I knew after meeting Nathy and Abla that I had all the necessary elements to get going.  Nathy knew her makeup, Albla knew her angles.  When I came back home, I offloaded my memory cards and starting to review the photos, tossing the way out of focus, cropped fingers, closed eyes, blown or under exposed photos.  After getting rid of about 20 photos, I knew I was in for an editing ride…  This is where consistent lighting is your friend; adjust 1 photo in a series and apply the same corrections to the rest.  Then all you have left to do are the minor corrections.  After a couple of photos, you know where the piercing hole, pimple, skin blemish and scars are and it takes seconds to remove them.   I have way more final photos than Abla, Nathy nor I will ever use but it would have been a shame to completely toss some of them.  One variation in the model’s eyes changes the emotional response the viewer have on the photo.


It was the 1st time we were working together.  We met, we knew what to expect one from the others and the rest was a walk in the park.




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