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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Studio Model Photography

A few weeks ago, I attended a studio model photography session. I've recently had my portfolio appraised by professionals, and while they agree that many of my photos are quite good, they are not impressed with my portrait shots.

Nonetheless, practice makes perfect, and it seems such a waste to keep all these photos locked up in the dark dungeons of my hard disk - so here's more eye candy for you!

This is the studio set up, with three lights. The studio lighting is triggered by the built-in flash on your camera, or using a PC connection. Ambient light was very dim and the indicated exposure time was very long, so the vibration reduction feature in my Nikon compact camera was often overwhelmed.

Fortunately, this time I also brought my trusty old Minolta 35mm SLR, so you can expect to see sharper pictures later.

Time to shoot! There were about 20 photography enthusiasts on that day, and we were allocated one minute each to shoot as many photos as possible. Since there was only one costume change, we got a grand total of two opportunities each. A senior photography instructor later commented that you can't learn much from such a session, since all the settings have been done for you.

While waiting my turn, I tried to use my compact to take ambient light photos.

It proved to be quite difficult...

First try.

You can see that it's just rubbish. The VR wasn't good enough. In addition, the autofocus keeps fighting with me. I switched to the VR-active mode hoping that there will be a better result.

Ah, much better. Unfortunately the exposure level is shot through to hell. When using an automatic compact with limited manual modes, every shot is a hit-and-miss affair. Just keep shooting and be prepared to discard a lot of photos.

When I saw this pose, I fell in love with it immediately. So beautiful, especially the way the model's hair curls on her raised left shoulder. It wasn't my turn yet, so I had to wait for a chance to get the model to repeat this pose again for my SLR.

And here's one more photo from the Nikon, showing a pouty expression. There aren't any more sharp photos; most are throw-away shots.

Now for the Minolta:

This reduced size image doesn't do the original print justice. The photo was taken at f/22 and is tack sharp. Unfortunately I used ISO 400 film and the exposure was too high for the light settings used on that day. I don't have any smaller aperture than f/22, so the SLR photos all turned out looking harshly illuminated, especially on the left side of her face.

Notice that the colour looks different from the Nikon photos - this is to be expected since the ambient lighting is quite yellow.

I tried to get the model to replicate that amazing pose above, but I just couldn't get it right. Another photographer agreed that it was a superb pose and also tried to tell her how to do it, but it still doesn't look right.

In this photo, she just looks sad. Not as beautiful and thoughtful like that previous pose.

Oh well, some things only happen once. At least I got that first photo.

Costume change! Here's a more cheerful looking photo. An instructor later commented that it's unsightly to show visible elbows in a portrait shot, since these are considered "sharp points" that should be avoided.


And finally... a chance for the model to check out how the photos turned out, and pick some to add to her portfolio.

She is quite petite. And HOT, of course.

Would you like to know more?

Previous model photo sessions:
- Outdoor shoot at Fort Canning
- Indoor (ambient light) shoot at Imaging Expo 2007