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Jun, 2017

Three Windows

Urban shoot with nude model

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Behind The Lens

This image was taken on one of several visits to a fantastic Urbex location in Somerset. Access to the site was very easy at the time, but developers have since started work on renovating the site and turning it in to flats.
We spent several hours at this site, shooting between 10am and 2pm. It was about halfway through the shoot that we arrived in this part of the building and the combination of light and different textures combined to give us a tremendously interesting environment in which we could create something special.
This image was always intended to be very much a silhouette. The light outside was bright, if not a bit harsh. However, this gave me the contrast for this shot. With my model positioned on the edge of light coming in through the windows, I deliberately overexposed the exterior to accentuate the silhouette effect.
I tend to travel light on location shoots, keeping all my kit in one bag. My primary body is a Nikon D7200 of which I am very fond. It does everything I want or need it to do. Lens was a Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom. This tends to be my “go to” lens as it is fast enough for most light conditions and the zoom range is just enough to switch between wide angle and short telephoto variations. No flash, no tripod - I braced myself against a partition wall to help reduce any camera shake. I pushed my ISO up a little to enable me to shoot at 1/60 second.
I do like to take a variety of different style images on a shoot, especially when a location offers as many opportunities as this did. Silhouettes always make for striking images and when we saw the light and the space, it was clear to us both that this image was waiting for us.
I tend not to do much highly technical work in post-processing. The majority of work is done in Lightroom with just minor refinements in Photoshop afterwards. My key target was to balance the contrast between the highlighted areas beyond the windows and the darkness inside, pulling out as much detail as possible to give the image a real impact. The only other work I did was on straightening and cropping the image to place my model right in the centre of the picture.
In my camera bag
My location kit is all in a single backpack. I travel with two bodies, one Nikon D7200 and a D7100 as backup. Lenses are primarily selected to deal with whatever lighting conditions I might encounter. I usually shoot with my Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom which I find a very flexible lens for my purposes. For trickier lighting conditions I have two fast primes, 50mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.8 - both Nikon lenses. For brighter conditions, I have my 18-105mm kit lens which is super versatile in good light with the bigger zoom range. Aside from cleaning kit that is everything I need.
I was lucky that this was my fifth visit to this site, but even so we discovered new areas in which to work. When shooting in derelict sites, please be very careful of your surroundings. Take care with any rusty metal and be sure to clean the floor area if your model is working barefoot or nude. These sites are not going to be clean and the health of you and your model must come first. I am a keen advocate of the light meter. It may not be the settings you shoot at, but does give you a starting point to experiment with your ISO, aperture and shutter speed. Then review the images on the back of the camera to see if you are getting the sort of image you want. If your camera can show you a black and white image then use this, agan this may not be how the final version looks but can give you new ideas. Don’t be afraid of pushing your settings. I often shoot with the widest possible aperture for my lens and then use the ISO to give me a sensible shutter speed for shooting handheld. Post-processing is an important step in creating the finished image. Even so I still try to get as much right in the camera to begin with. I will always try to get the primary vertical or horizontal line fixed when shooting as well as the crop and positioning of the model in the frame. Then I can concentrate my limited post-processing skills on the areas I need to give extra focus. Lightroom is great for batch editing images in a set and there are some excellent plugins to make things even easier. Never be afraid of experimenting. Try different settings. Play around with plugins and othe4 tools in editing. Digital photography gives you the freedom to shoot and produce almost infinite variations if you so wish. You may discover something you like even more.

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