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Rolling with the BIG Dog Part 2 - part 2 of 1 2

by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/10/2009

At this point it is worth taking a moment to point out one of photography's stranger phenomenon, the use of coloured gels on lights, be they for colour correction or effect. You could be forgiven for thinking that the more light you 'pump' through a gel the more intense the effect would be. With so many things in photography the exact opposite is true. The more white light fired through the gel, the more PASTEL the colour becomes. You have been warned!

On to the third and final light. This was placed above the model on the first landing. It was fitted with a standard spill kill. The light was then aimed down the stairwell and serves two purposes. Firstly, it rim lights our subject, accentuating her lines and curves, and separating her a little from the background. Secondly, it creates the interesting highlight on the enclosed stair rail, top-left of image, and the specular highlight in the bright metalwork. This light was metered to EV+1.

However, attractive lighting alone a great picture does not make. So what were the other integral parts, responsible for crafting the image?

First is lens selection. This image was shot on one of the most fantastic, yet underused and overlooked lenses in the kit bag, the glorious 'standard' 50mm. Called standard because in the world of 35mm film this lens is the closest match to the field of human vision. In general this lens, in any manufacturer's line, is optically stunning and Nikon's f1.4 version is simply beautiful! A lot of lens for very little money, comparatively speaking, of course.

The 50mm lens has enabled me to include as much of the background as I intended without distorting perspective in any way. I'd also chosen to shoot the image at an aperture of f4 on this lens; an aperture this wide has a relatively narrow or should I say shallow depth of field. This enables me to have the subject sharp, separated from an ever-increasing out-of- focus background. Just another effect from the BIG Dog's 'bag of sneaky photography tricks' used to draw the viewer's attention to the part of the image the artist intends.

Ok, now is a good time to talk about the model's significance in all of this. Lozie is undoubtedly a beautiful young woman but it's not just her beauty that makes her a top model; there are thousands of beauties out there, not all of them make great models. Lozie's skill and that of most of the models I regularly work with, is in her brilliant ability to listen to the photographer's instructions and implement them exactly.

It is true to say I micro manage my subjects. I don't want them to move, or breathe, without my direction - after all it is only me who can see into the darkest corners of my creative mind. Therefore, it has to be me who directs the subject, otherwise the image won't look like the initial concept as a degree of 'randomness' has been added. Doing EXACTLY as she is asked is Lozie's greatest talent, among many gifts she has been graced with!

That's why I have absolutely no hesitation when I say if you really want to learn to shoot people Lozie's day rate is another 'no brainer' - her input and ability is worth far more than the price paid. You'll see more, achieve more and learn more working with a professional, end of! Hell, she might even let you in on the secret of what it's like to regularly 'Roll with the BIG Dog' ;0) (spare us! Ed.)

So let's take a quick look at the 'micro managed' pose. She is turned, obliquely, to the light to give maximum effect of the light from the 'key' skimming over and 'carving out' her shape. The 'S' curve that runs through her body is a prerequisite to impart sexiness, the hands at her waist exaggerate how narrow it is and the 'fashion model styled' forward thrust of the shoulders and elbows are used as visual guides to focus attention back to the waist and the corset, the whole point of the image. Add to this the cross over at the knees to create a beautiful taper that enhances the length of the leg and hopefully you will start to see method in my madness!

We're well into the picture-making home straight now - there's just one more trick I'd like to share. To add further impact to what is virtually a monochromatic image I wanted to bring the vast majority of the tones to render as cool or blue; this would greatly enhance Lozie's skin and give it the cool, porcelain effect I desired.

Now this trick is stolen from my film days and is REALLY easy to achieve. Please bear in mind that most flash tubes are balanced to be around 5,500 degrees Kelvin, daylight to you and me. In the good old days if we loaded up with tungsten balanced film and exposed it with either flash or daylight we'd end up with really cool, ethereal, monochromatic, bluetoned images, très cool!

Now in today's digital world the same trick is even easier to create and its effect is far more controllable. Ok, so what do we do? The same effect is achieved by simply selecting the tungsten-balanced white balance on your camera and exposing the image using daylight-balanced tubes!

I, of course, being me, actually use a custom white balance but that's just the way I roll in my house...I can't give away ALL my secrets, I'd be thrown out of the Magic Circle!

Next issue we'll finish off the third garment together, and finally bring this shoot to its completion. I hope that these few insights have been helpful for you so far and, as I've said before, you deserve credit for just sticking with the ramblings of a mad man.

end with the best piece of advice I can give you. Take up the challenge of the Societies' FREE Mentor Me programme, it really is a fantastic aid to develop your craft. If you're as impatient as me then there are always the accelerated learning workshops, 'Mentor Me on Steroids'. Come and learn with me in my studio, from just £145.00 it's money well spent.

Till next time...McGillicuddy

DMLS light modifiers are available from The Flash Centre,

DPM Walbank or direct from Lozie may be contacted via Lesley McGillicuddy

studio: 01925 656510

Contact Damian McGillicuddy

1st Published 01/10/2009
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:13

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