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Behind The Lens

Location
I am VERY grateful for the support of the Viewbug community -- as social media in general becomes more and more constricted it's wonderful to have a photographer-centric arena to share pictures. That said, I am continually amused that the shots I consider "throwaways" are the ones generally garnering the most attention. This is definitely one of those. This was a shoot with Ophelia (darker hair, paler skin) and Kaylee (below) in early Autumn a couple years ago at my home. Ophelia and I were just closing out a chapter of pretty intensive work and she has since "retired" from active modeling. Kaylee was in town visiting and stopped by for the afternoon. My roommate is a similar age and pretty soon the house was a melee of lingerie, faux fur and a snacky multi-course dinner.
Time
The later afternoon sun moved a patch of window-light through the living room and we tried to utilize it as best we could. The intensity of the light made it very hard to balance shadows and I was not, at the time of posting this photo, utilizing any extensive editing.
Lighting
The difference in skin tones was really shown by the direct light through the bay window. I could get Kaylee correct and have Ophelia blown out or adjust for Ophelia and lose Kaylee almost completely. At this time, most of my work had been in a very carefully controlled studio environment with constant theatrical lighting. I will confess to being almost totally stymied by this situation. I'd like to think that I'd have a better handle on it these days but as I consider that position I realize that I can't think of what the hell I'd do differently. Not, at least, anything within easy reach even now.
Equipment
This was shot on a Nikon D750 with a Sigma 24-35 ART lens. Now I really want to pull up the original and try my hand at editing these with a year of Lightroom under my belt.
Inspiration
There IS a story (or two) behind this. Ophelia hit me up on IG and asked to shoot. When she arrived at my studio, I suggested that we take a minute and let her brush her hair and maybe use a tiny bit of eye makeup. Her mildly obvious nervousness gave way to a stammered, "I don't have a brush....or makeup." I took a minute to answer and asked if she was OK and she gave way to tears. She wanted to become a model but had grown up in a highly religious background with parents who emphasized that she was fat, ugly and stupid. Two weeks ago her little sister had committed suicide, spurred by the same kind of bullying. I was in total shock. Perhaps we should go get tea at the sushi place around the corner and we could come back to this? I literally SAW her put a piece of steel into her backbone and she brushed her hair back and said, "no, I want to do this RIGHT NOW." Whatever demons she worked out over the next couple months obviously needed to be brought out and exorcised. Kaylee, on the other hand, was an established model with a photog boyfriend whom I had followed on IG. I invited them to stop by the studio on a visit to Portland and was taken aback when a couple kids showed up (they were both over 18, simply LOOKED incredibly young!). We were instant friends and I had to laugh when they left saying they needed to check in with his Aunt....and 20 minutes later my crew chief texted me to say "Hey, you shot with my nephew and his GF!" They were instantly family. I thought Kaylee and Ophelia would fit well together and they certainly did in terms of personality. I just hadn't counted on the difference in skin tone being so hard to deal with. I'd be curious what others do to deal with skin tone differences OTHER than just playing them up?
Editing
At the time I took and posted this, I used only the most basic post-processing. Usually a hint of sharpening and maybe some saturation or exposure processing in Preview. It wasn't until about a year ago that I finally moved into Lightroom and I'm certainly excited about the opportunities to revisit four years of work with Quarantine Practice in hand!
In my camera bag
My camera-of-choice is a Nikon D750. I absolutely love the Sigma ART line although had a horrible experience being ripped off in Southern Oregon, most likely at the hands of another photographer. Can't prove it but I have found a guy whose profile and vehicle match a photographer/vehicle who were nearby when I pulled into a restaurant parking lot in September of 2019. SOMEONE decided to pop my door and help themselves to two well-stuffed bags of lenses and cameras. Particularly devastating as it was at the end of the best three days of shooting I've ever had with an amazing model in literally phantastic settings. I've been slowly rebuilding, this time focusing on some vintage lenses as a way to carry out my current vision. These days: Nikon D750 and Nikon D3300 (backup) * Petzval 58 (manual - insert gobos for different breakup and bokeh) * Sigma 18-35/1.8 * Tamron 135mm/2.8 * Nikkor 50mm/1.4 usually with a kaleidoscope tube attachment * Helios 58mm/2
Feedback
One of the hardest things about portraiture in natural light is simply the changing nature of the light. A hint of cloud makes a huge difference and working with TWO people more than doubles the challenge. I'm actually super-stoked about an upcoming shoot working with a fantastic locally-based model AND one of her best friends, who promises to be "all that and a bag of chips" in her own right. I've lined up a friend with a boat to help us get to some unique and otherwise-unavailable locations. The best thing about photography is that your best work is always ahead of you.

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