This week's 52frames.com challenge was to use fabric with extra credit for creating a fashion shot. I'd been waiting for an opportunity to play with creating more false perspective sets and this challenge  seemed like the perfect opportunity to do just that. 

My vision was to create  a big red "hot spot" on top of which I would attempt a fashion-style pose. Mission accomplished!

I created an overlay to use in 'live view' with the camranger app on my iPad. The overlay achieved 2 things:

1 • Fashion in the US is usually published in a magazine at 8.5x11 aspect ratio but my camera shoots 4x6. I used pink areas of the overlay to mask out parts of the image I knew I would later have to crop.  The first step to creating a fashion-style shoot is to get the  image dimensions correct. If you are shooting a double-page spread (landscape orientation) image, then the aspect ratio remains the same (11x17) and you need to be aware of where the magazine fold will occur so that it doesn't intersect with something important in your image. 

2 • The second part of the overlay was specific to this shoot: Thin circular rings to use as a guide for laying down the fabrics. I started out with several rings  because initially I wasn't quite sure which ring I would use. Including more options than I would end up needing meant I didn't have to keep going back and forth to my computer creating & uploading new overlays.

Please note that whilst working in live view on the Camranger App, I temporarily set the ISO to a very high value so I can see what I am doing. Later for the actual shoot, I reduce the ISO and use strobes to light the scene instead of ambient light. 

Screen grabs from the "Camranger App" live view running on iPad as I built up the "set"

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The premise behind this concept is that you work in 3 dimensions whilst fitting the objects to the point of view of the camera. By moving items around in space to align with the rings on the overlay, you are creating a 3D world that presents as a two-dimensional shape in the final photograph. Very cool, huh?!

The camera 'sees' a circle, but from other angles the set looks quite different!

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Perhaps the best way to understand how this all works is to share a behind the scenes video. Here is a 1-frame-per-second timelapse of the shoot coming together over 2 days:



Focal Length • 28 mm

Speed 1/100

f 8

ISO 125

In addition to the two strobes doing the main lighting of the subject, I hid two speedlites behind the apple box on which I was sitting to throw some extra light on the part of the red fabric spot that was pinned to the V-flats. 

Although I have several high-end expensive Canon speedlites from the days before I purchased my strobes, annoyingly none of them are capable of being triggered optically.  (Meaning they cannot be triggered by the burst of light from another flash which is such a simple and useful capability.) But thankfully, these Neewar T560s costing less than $40 a piece can be triggered optically, so I sometimes use them in collaboration with my Profoto B1s to fill in and add small pockets of extra light when needed in the background of a shot. 

Hidden speedlites:

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Fashion photography for magazines is often highly polished and retouched to "perfection".  I'm currently committed to completing the 2021 52Frames challenges as Self Portraits and although I am not immune to removing pimples and spots, I usually I try to steer away from retouching my skin too much. As much as I lament the passing of my youthful good looks, I accept it and I am mostly fairly comfortable in my own skin. But since this is Fashion week, I allowed myself to be a little more heavy handed with the retouching. I also played around with adding a little more makeup in Photoshop which I find far easier (and more fun for me) than trying to do it in real life. 

I also used Photoshop to remove the seams on the V-Flats , beef up the red color on the garments plus fill in any small gaps, get rid of distractions, remove pins fixing items to the backdrop and change the color of my fake nails. I also used a touch of liquify to smooth out the outline of the circle.


WARDROBE: These days I buy most of my clothes second hand. so I can hardly be called fashionable. I opted to aim  for #AdvancedStyle look instead. For this shoot I thought it would be most striking to wear black against the bold red backdrop. I purposely chose clothing with different textures so that the light would fall on it in more interesting ways. I decided that pairing a ball gown with a leather biker style jacket might help give my resulting image a more edgy fashion-forward vibe. (Youngsters may scoff, but seems totally valid from my middle-aged perspective.) 

HAIR:  I had a lucky accident when I realized the hot pink conditioner I'd left in for a while and was about to wash out actually made my hair so stiff and mad that I  was able to easily style it into a dramatic-looking bouffant for the shoot. The height of the hair really helped balance the composition in a way that I don't think would have been achieved if I'd washed out the conditioner and styled my hair with a more traditional blow out. 

Before & After Edit : SOOC (RAW) versus Photoshopped.

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This week we were given an extra challenge of creating a 'fashion shoot'. I have photographed dozens of fashion shoots, mostly for fun, some professionally, and one thing I learned early on is that a good fashion shoot benefits from team work. I worked completely solo for the challenge this week and did the best I could with all of the roles but, believe me, when it comes to fashion the experience is so much more fun and rewarding when a group of skilled people come together to help make the magic happen (and someone else is modeling!).

Good people to have on your team when you are working on a fashion shoot (I always do my own retouching):



(aka more looking at pretty pictures)

Want to see more of my fashion work? Here is a link to my tear sheets (published works). 

And here is a link to the self-published version of SIXY Magazine containing fashion work created prior to mid-2016

As always, thank you for visiting the blog. If you have any comments or question, please don't hesitate to reach out in the comments.  And have a great week!

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