I am a big fan of shooting on location, although I don’t do it as often as I’d like to. But when I get a chance I like to find interesting locations. Shooting in a studio environment can sometimes get stale and it never hurts to spice things up with an interesting location. It can be indoors or outdoors, as long as it has an interesting vibe and authentic atmosphere, I’m there. The formula for this photoshoot was relatively simple: beautiful model + fancy dress + makeup and hair + lighting + castle. Ok, I admit it, looking at the formula now it doesn’t seem that simple, but when we were planning this shoot it seemed simple enough.
Location scouting credit goes to my wife, who found this medieval looking museum in New York City. Its grounds are well maintained, except for that one distant staircase that seems to be going nowhere. However I think that its state actually gives it an interesting vibe of long forgotten days of a different lifestyle. Actually, most of the credit here should go to my wife since she was also my model for this shoot, she prepared the fancy dress and did her hair and make-up as well. And probably the most important thing of all, she was four months pregnant with our son, but I bet you would never have guessed that. My wife got that dress a month earlier and it was getting tighter with each day, so we had to hurry up and do this shoot ASAP.
Like most museums, this place requires a permit for video and photo productions when shooting on the property. However, since we didn’t really have the time or the budget to obtain one, we just shot outside the property. Although, we did have a security guard come up and tell us to shoot further from the building because we kept on flashing strobes right into one of the windows of their administration office. What are the chances?
Speaking of strobes, we used Canon’s Speedlites to highlights the model and make sure that the light was always under control. I used Canon 5D Mark II as my main body with Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L lens for most of the shots except the last ones on the stairs. For the stairs shots I used Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L lens with B+W Polarizer filter. Aperture was set to f/2.2 for almost all of the shots, but shutter speed varied from 1/200 to 1/640 of a second, depending on how the sun was falling in the background. ISO was kept at 200.
For the lighting, I used Canon 430EX II with Pocketwizard FlexTT5 triggering to highlight the model. My assistant was holding a 42” light reflector in front of the flash to diffuse the light as much as possible. Because of that, I had the flash set to automatic ETTL with Exposure Compensation set to +2/3. In post processing I just increased the contrast and warmed up the tones, so not much time was spent at the screen. Now I just have to get the permit and do shoot inside the premises.