Three hours of fun and exercise with the X-T2.
Christel, my fiancées daughter, asked for a fasion shoot during easter time. She had invited two friends to attend. One of them was a former Miss Denmark Finalist in 2016, the other a very natural, sporty woman. So it was hard to say no! What’s not to like? The weight of the X-T2, battery grip and the XF56mm prime starts to feel a bit heavy after three hours, but shooting these young, beautiful women was fun and challenging.
X-T2 with battery grip, 3 batteries, the XF56mm lens and a flash remote controller is not a lightweight setup!
3 beautiful, young models
I aim for personality in the pictures, not just ‘glamour’. But with an Instagram generation, it is not always easy to get the poses that emphasizes their own personality. And with three very different personalities, I had a lot of fun and hard work during the shoot! It took a while, before the models and I was in sync with my way of directing the pose.
Bending in the legs to get the lens in lip level and holding the stance while directing a model, makes you sweat!
I always spend some time in the start of the shoot to find my models best angle. So I shoot from left to right at eye, nose and lip level. Then I go through the shots with the model on the rear LCD, and we agree on the best angle.
Christel is the kind of girl, that simply pops in front of a camera. She is a normally a shy person, but point a camera at her, and she just gives you the one-million-dollar look. She wanted to experiment, and I asked her to prepare a setup. She didn’t disappoint me. More an that later…
Emma got a lot of shooting experience last year as a finalist for Miss Denmark 2016. She is nicely sun tanned, but during the shoot, she was not wearing a lot of makeup. That gave some reflections in the skin, that cost me some work during post processing. Emma is used to give the ‘cute look’, so I challenged her a bit. We worked hard on head postures, and we were amazed to discover all the different looks Emma had by small adjustments.
Julie is the sporty, active girl, that smiles all day long. Her skin is so soft and white, that many babies would be jealous. A bonus is zero retouching in post production! Julie does not feel very comfortable in front of a camera, but when she is ‘there’, we get the most natural and straight-forward pictures.
Trying to shoot fashion and beauty is easiest in a studio. But the studio I normally uses was 225 km away, so that was not an option. In stead I had brought a huge reflector/diffuser to serve as background, and the living room had a huge window towards East. So after 12 o’clock, the sun would not shine directly into the room. The only problem was, that the room was no more than 3m (9 feet) wide. A bit narrow for the 56mm lens, when both background, model and photographer has to occupy that space. But with a window going from floor to roof (more than 3 meters/ 10 feet), I had the best, broad light source available: Gods natural light!
My three most important pieces of gear:
Fujifilm X-T2 w the XF56mmF1.2 lens and battery grip: This is the working horse and crontap in my work. The XF56mm is a very sharp prime. Going to F1.2 – but this aparture should be used with caution; just a small movement from you or your model, and the picture is spoiled.
Wallimax ‘reflector’ 150x200cm (6×8 feet) w white and black cover: Except for the camera, this was my most important equipment. Shooting in a living room does not give pleasant background in 90% of your shots, so this huge reflector serves as a light, mobile background drop for portraits from narrow head shots to 3/4’th of a body. I put the white reflector cover on the diffuser, and had a black drape to wrap around the board, when I wanted a dark background.
Wallimax silver reflector (70cm/2,6 feet) for natural lighting and butterfly-/fashion flash setup
I’m not a huge fan of flash. I have invested in a simple flash setup until Fuji delivers a proper system with TTL.
- Two flashes and a wireless remote controler : 2 x YONGNUO YN560 iii and YN560-TX. Manual flashes, no TTL or HSS. The remote controller can adjust the flash power for up to 6 groups)
- Umbrella (Wallimax foldable shoot through) for main light and Flashbender for kicker. One lightstand for main light and one tripod for the kicker.
I opted for generating jpg’s in Acros Film Simulation Mode. It makes it very easy to see how the lighting is, and the models like to see the pleasing rendering.
- Boost-lever switched on at the battery grip (LCD notably hot after half an hour)
- Acros film simulation (High +1, Shadow:-2, NR:-3, Sharpness:-2)
- ISO to 800, DR and Shutter on Auto, Manual Aperture
- Raw-files on a 64Gb SD-card in slot 1, and JPG’s on a 32Gb SD-card in slot 2
- Single shot-Af mode, and focus priority on shutter priority.
- Single point AF with mid-size focus area (No face detection)
Natural Lighting – white background
We started out with Julie and Emma at a chair. We worked a bit to find the right angle. For Julie, it was a bit from her right at eye level. For Emma, we found the best position was at lip-level directly towards her face.
Afterwards we went through a few ‘half body’ poses.
Christel made a setup with a woolen blanket on a staircase. I had to press myself up against the opposite wall in order to cover all of her body in the lens. The result was stunning hot and classy.
Natural Lighting – White and black background
After shooting Christel at the staircase, we went back to the window and shot all three in the natural light playing with different poses and backgrounds.
Couch and Flash
Emma headed for the couch in the second living room in the house. Fortunately, there was not a lot of windows in that room, and the background could be placed behind the couch. The main light was on my right side 2m (6 feet) above floor level, and the kicker on the left was at couch level (1m / 3 feet). Again I needed the kicker for separation between Emmas dark hair and the background.
Butterfly / Fasion Lighting
As a last setup, we went for the butterfly-/fashion lighting. Without a C-stand, it implies a high stance for the light and umbrella to the right, just outside the frame of the model, and a reflector just outside the frame to bounce the light from below. The result is a light setup with almost no shadows in the face.
After three hours of fun, we decided to stop. They picked a few images, I was able to transfer from the camera to their phones via my phone and the Fujifilm Remote App. When I returned home, I could import the RAW-files to Lightroom and start reviewing them.
- 445 pictures in total
- 238 rated one star (usable by fast preview)
- 118 rated two stars (best in series, sharpness tested at 100% in Lr)
- 60 rated three stars (candidates, cropped)
- 47 final photos (processed in Lightroom with the development module).
A ratio 1 to 10 is fair as keeper-ratio. The staircase-setting was the most tricky part, and in retrospect, ISO 800 was a too low iso-setting and aperture f1.2 to f2 gave too small DOF at that distance.
There is still some work to do in Lightroom. I’m not satisfied with the colors yet, and are surprised to see, that the white balance is pretty much random when I uses the flash. So that is a reminder to fix the White balance next time.
I don’t think I got the ‘one’ picture that totally nailed it, but we did produce some decent photos. I see it as an investment; next time the photographing will go easier, and we can work more focused in specific directions. For instance, to go for MODcloth and retro style.