Working in the Pool With Danah Scarlett

July 23, 2016  •  1 Comment

You've seen this theme over and over with me. I love to shoot. I especially love it when it calls for me to light things. I love it when it requires me to think and focus (pun intended) on what is happening in front of me and it lets the drama of real life fade away. This week I was lucky enough to reconnect with Danah. It had been almost 5 years since we'd shot. We kept in touch and the timing was right. Danah has friends. Friends have pools. I've never photographed a woman in a pool. You see where this is going. 

1/250th at F8 ISO 100 Nikon D5, 24-70 VR, SB-5000 x 3


First I attempted to shoot from the edge of the pool but I just couldn't get it right. Tried the lights on the edges. Tried me on the edges. Some of the images were ok but not what I wanted. The background lighting was very mixed as you can see in the final product with hard shadows starting to fall. The distance to get Danah with just enough of her body out of the pool was farther away than I wanted for the quality of the light. Leaving the flashes bare would give me more than enough quantity of light but it was not going to give me the quality I wanted. I wanted soft with a hint of edginess to match the look of the background. Danah was totally in shadow at this point (which i wanted - it eliminated squinting that we had earlier in the session with the sun facing straight into her eyes) so the light on her was going to have be 90% speedlight based. 

Finally the Greek God of Victory spoke loudly and said "Just Do It"

I took the stands, the flashes, the mods, and the camera and went where I hadn't gone with nearly 10gs in gear before. I'd seen people do pool and lake and other types of shoots before and always thought "yikes - i wouldn't do that with my gear" but when you get a beautiful woman willing to drop down in the water and the shot that you see in your head requires the lights to be close and the camera to be a little lower than she is. Well. you just do it. 

The Hexi24 on the camera right was the main light. I had set it as my A group and put it to full power through the Hexi. My B group was the SB-5000 with a Rogue Flashbender. I curved the top so that the light didn't escape to the sky. Indoors with a white ceiling I would let that go straight but outdoors I couldn't afford to lose that light. The flexibility (again - pun intended) of the flashbender makes it a staple in my set up as I can bring it anywhere and it takes up almost no room in my bag. The B group was set to 1/2 power since I wanted it to mimic the lighting conditions that the sun was creating on the wall. There was more than a one stop difference between the sun on the wall right and the shadow on wall left but I still thought a one stop difference would be natural. C group was just a bare SB-5000 directly behind Danah at 1/8th power. I controlled the amount of light from the back of the D5 

I shot a couple of non-flash shots at the beginning to get a base exposure for what I was looking for. Nothing to dramatically "flashy" and I wanted to make sure that all of Danah was in focus. I picked F/8 to make sure of that. As we progressed through the shoot I did make some switches and shoot with more open apertures than 8 but those all came with corresponding shutter changes to maintain the same exposure as I liked that it looked mostly natural. 1/250th at f8 gave me the mix of depth of field and mixing of ambient and flash that I wanted for this look. 

Below are a group of images I captured with this set up. You can see minor changes in shutter and aperture through the set. I always try to remember to fluctuate a bit just to give me different looks. Shooting speedlights is different than shooting studio strobes in that you have that ability to break sync speed if it serves you artistically. 


No underwater?
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