Saturday, January 11, 2014

Model Photography

Model photography can be rewarding and fun and can be done with as many or as few lights as you have. At its most basic, ordinary household lighting can be used. Certain magazines, notably "Where Women Cook" and "Where Women Create" use solely natural lighting with no flash at all. Their look is one of natural photography though high ISOs must be used and the models must keep very still in order for the images not to be blurred due to the longer than normal exposures.

Below I have a photo taken with a very basic studio setup. There was no tripod used at all. The background is a slightly grubby off-white bed sheet suspended from a background stand. In the absence of a background stand, pinning the sheet to the wall would be adequate. Lighting was two studio flash bulbs from eBay at $15 each shipped from China. These were fired into two silvered umbrellas ($3 each on eBay) and supported on some inexpensive light stands. An alternative would be to use some halogen work lights on stands. Those are usually quite inexpensive at the builder's merchants.

The downside of halogen is they are hot and will make the model quite warm. In a cold studio, this could be beneficial though. The other downside is that there might be hotspots on the image.

Focus is the most important part of any photograph. With models, unless you're photographing an item they are holding or wearing, the eyes absolutely must be sharp. If the eyes are not sharp, the photo is garbage. This is why you must learn to adjust the focus points on your camera, particularly if you're shooting vertically. In the photo below, the focal point is on her eyes. In a gloomy studio with the setup described, this can be difficult to achieve with auto-focus and manual focus may need to be employed. Be careful with focus - focusing with the center of the lens and then moving the lens up or down will change the focal point forward or backward. It will not be in the same plane for two reasons. First, there's a little thing called geometry which means that by moving a few degrees, the focal point moves in or out accordingly. Secondly the sharp area in front of a lens is not a flat plane. It is generally curved unless you're using a dedicated macro lens which has an almost flat field. Thus while the center may be sharp, the edges could well be sufficiently out of focus to ruin the photograph. The focal field is not flat and this is most apparent at wider apertures.

Models are another thing you will need. The lady below is an aspiring model, hoping to work with Laine Bryant and who has already modeled for Ruth's Wardrobe and for Stallion. She's really great to work with.

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