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Gazing Shadows

Chicago-based model, Kayleigh Mahoney, poses in Downtown Chicago.

Chicago-based model, Kayleigh Mahoney, poses in Downtown Chicago.
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2 Comments | Report
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CynKllr613 PRO+
CynKllr613 May 14, 2020
Gorgeous eyes! Beautiful model
harmeetsingh June 14, 2020

Behind The Lens

This photo was taken in downtown Chicago right next to a bridge that crossed over the Chicago river.
I've always tried to avoid taking photos at high noon, in fact, late afternoon or early evening are really my favorite times to shoot. However, with our schedules not lining up perfectly, Kayleigh (the model) and I opted to meet up around 1PM for this shoot. Consequently, we were given really interesting opportunities to work with a lighting situation I was not very familiar with, especially since it was a cloudless day in the middle of a city. This shot was snapped around 2:00PM on April 30th, 2018.
Because of the harsh lighting, I was very interested in working with shadows. We found this awesome bridge overlooking the Chicago river that the sun was blasting against, causing hard-lined shadows in super interesting patterns. I had Kayleigh sit down right on the dirty cement (what a trooper) and with a little adjusting we came away with these amazing shadows that both complimented her body art as well as her natural beauty.
I used a 5D mark iii with a Sigma Art 35mm 1.4 lens. No other equipment was utliized.
I wanted to prove to myself that harsh lines and unideal lighting wasn't an obstacle to pull of amazing looking portraits. Instead of just shooting with the light to the model's back or finding a large plot of shadow, we decided to lean into the creative side of working with the sun at full volume. Additionally, Kayleigh has some incredible body art and we wanted to show that off in the photo rather than it being just an afterthought; the shadows really helped us fulfill that vision.
I corrected the levels in Lightroom but the real magic happened in Photoshop. The light leak coming in on the top right of the frame is totally fabricated, her skin was retouched and smoothed out, and the shadows and highlights were accentuated for full effect. This was a super fun photo to post-process!
In my camera bag
I typically carry two cameras - my 5D mark IV and my EOS R. Before that, when this photo was taken, I rocked two 5D mark iiis with an 85mm 1.2L and a Sigma Art 35mm 1.4. I hate missing a moment or a "feeling" by switching lenses. Models who work with me know that I get a lot of photos into our sessions no matter the time constraint. I am also always armed with my 70-200mm 2.8L, 50mm 1.4, 14mm 2.8L, and a 100mm 2.8L macro lens for specialty shots.
I think the best advice I can give is when you are presented with a situation you are not that comfortable with, just lean into it and get weird. This photo is not that "weird" per se, but it was a fun exercise to "dirty" the frame instead of my typical clean-cut portrait style. Whatever you're working with, make that part of the photo - not something you are trying to ignore or overcome.

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