here are some of my favourites from the dapper shoots so far this semester. really great to be working with carina, audrey, ahmad and yudi again. of course, we warmly welcome into our midst ruiqi who will be doing hair/make-up (something that we did not have last semester). the shoots are always so enjoyable, and though they are sometimes physically and mentally taxing, i am sure we all look back and agree that the effort spent was well worth it.
many thanks to our models too. you all make the pictures.
a couple more issues to go!
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styling: carina & audrey (another one in the bag!), models: shane & christine (thanks, guys!) and assisted by yudi.
shooting outdoors is always a challenge, but in many ways it is also more rewarding. you do your best to anticipate everything that can possibly go wrong and try to tame the variables that often seem to have a mind of their own.
sometimes, everything just seems to come together. so many things could have gone wrong during this shoot – the malaysian guard at the railway station could have raised hell; the sunset could have been unspectacular; worse still, it could have rained.
but none of those happened. the security guard was content to stay at his post. the ambient light was a beautiful mix of gold, pink and peach. the worst that happened was that we damaged a pair of heels, thankfully it wasn’t too expensive.
all the photos were shot with a 50mm f1.4. most of them were lit naturally with reflectors for fill except for the last one, where i had yudi (a fantastic assistant and photographer himself) fire a sb-800 into a gold reflector to light christine. the challenge with that shot was balancing the flash with the already awesome ambient light.
all photos were then treated in lightroom and photoshop to create the vintage look.
thanks to all who helped to make dapper a great success this semester! we have more interesting themes and concept planned for the next semester so be sure to look out for them. haters not included.
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view my portfolio at www.chang-photography.com!
in this edition of dapper, we wanted to do a product shoot but with a difference. instead of going the straightforward route and shooting the bags and shoes against a plain seamless, we wanted to shoot in an environment and in a style that would reveal and enhance their “character”. this would be like the conceptual environmental portrait – albeit of shoes and bags.
for the location we wanted a place with a really gritty and urban flavour. it just so happened that i was on the 179 heaaded to school when i spotted the skate park (with glorious graffiti) just right outside ntu. beats going all the way to the skate park in town where we would in all probability be harassed. besides, shooting near school meant that we would not have to lug gear and the products around.
we started setting up and shooting just before sunset. wanted to see if we could use the dying ambient light but then decided to kill the ambient light as it revealed too much unwanted details in the background (hdb blocks, cars, etc.) so we waited till dark before actually shooting.
the lighting setup was similar for both pictures. a flash against a bounce umbrella to fill the foreground, 3 grip-spotted/snooted falshes to light each of the shoes/bag combo. wanted to retain the hardness of the light give the photos a harsh, edgy look so no diffusers were used.
note that the bmx bike and the ramps in the background were lit with a flashed zoomed out to 105mm and shot on a separate frame, which was then composited with the shot of the foreground to form the above image. i had my camera locked down on a tripod to maintain the same field/angle of view.
likewise, the skater in this shot was lit separately as above. many thanks to him. he was enjoying a sandwich or something when i approached him to ask him to “model”. thankfully, i got him in the right place on the first attempt. otherwise i might be recovering from a skateboard-inflicted head injury now.
other than to form the composites, the photos also had their contrast and colours adjsuted in photoshop to bring out the grittiness and the textures of the graffiti. i also overlaid some additional texture to complete the grunge look.
as usual, many thanks to my dear stylists carina and audrey. couldn’t have done this without you girls. special thanks to ahmad and yudi for assisting and supplying some of the gear. thanks a lot guys.
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above is the final layout for the current installment of “dapper”. for readers who do not know what that is, it is basically the fashion spread that i shoot for the nanyang chronicle, a student-run campus newspaper that i am currently also working on as one of the photo editors. click here for a larger version of the page.
below are the 6 shots that went into this issue. note that the black backgrounds in all the 6 photos are not the original backgrounds. they were actually inserted after i etched out the 6 characters for the layout itself. the original backgrounds were quite bad even though we shot in a studio, largely because the backdrops available were not big enough that i could shoot full-body photos at a variety of angles without getting the rest of the wall and the pulleys for the backdrops in.
a word of advice to fellow photographers, if you ever intend to replace the background of your images during the post-process, shoot the subjects against a colour such as white, green or blue, or a colour that provides separation , so that the process can be expedited. i made the silly error of shooting against black. needless to say, it was hell to pay when i tried etching the individual figures out.
my deepest gratitude to tiffany and mark for agreeing to model for this shoot, to yusuf too for helping me to set up the lights and stand in as the test subject, and to victoria for doing hair and makeup. also, special thanks to everyone else who contributed gear and/or expertise to the shoot.
and of course, my 2 lovely stylists audrey and carina for working so hard on getting the clothes, doing the styling and layout. i think we are becoming a really solid team and i envision even greater things ahead!
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in the latest edition of dapper, we wanted to stage a picnic and also do a shoot that reflected the cheery mood of the festive seasons. think bright, colours, happy, light, etc. as keywords. this spread was at the end titled ‘hello sunshine’, and below are the 5 photos ultimately selected.
i thought it would be a good idea to give readers am insight into how the shoot was accomplished. forgive me if i get a little too technical but i hope this makes for an informative read nonetheless.
firstly, the people involved in the shoot to whom many thanks are owed:
l-r: ahmad, me, joel, jayne, audrey, carina and sarah.
we started scouting and setting up at the botanic gardens at about 7.45 am and the shoot started proper at about 8.30 am when the models arrived. i wanted to do the shoot early as we were using speedlights (2 x nikon sb-800s and a canon 430ex) and i was concerned that the harsh brightness from the midday sun would prove too much for the speedlights to compete with. we ended shooting past midday anyways. more on that later.
i also did not want to be limited to shooting everything in the shade, which wouldn’t help to achieve the look we were after. the problem with small speedlights is that they lack the power that studio strobes possess. of course, i wished we had the luxury of bringing big strobes on location but that would be a logistical nightmare given the small crew.
final photos to be followed by the originals and a short explanation. here is the first:
this one was lit with 2 nikon sb-800s to either side of the models out of frame to create rim lights so that there will be some separation between the models and the background. frontal lighting provided by a photoflex silver reflector bouncing light from the sun, which was overhead and slightly behind subjects. a canon 430 ex on wide from the front augmented the light from the reflector.
some of the highlights that were too hot were then toned down in photoshop. the colours were given a boost. we did not have great sky that day (ah, the vagaries of outdoor shoots!) so i fixed that a little. also, the trees and the foliage in the background were trimmed to improve the composition of the picture.
exactly the same set-up as the first. since i was shooting wide, the lights could not be placed out of frame otherwise they would be too far away to have an effect. note that the lights were already set to full power. they were then cloned out in post. the sky was in a bad shape too so that got a bit of attention.
went in close for the next one. still the same scene. for this the rim lights were did away with. image then cleaned up and enhanced in photoshop.
the set-up for this one was relatively simple. we had a canon 430 ex fired through a shoot-thru umbrella on the left out of frame as the main light. the right side, especially jayne’s legs and the polka-dotted roller-case, was a tad too dark so we lifted the shadows with a sb-800 on low power.
for the last one we decided to move into the shade. the final image is actually a composite the 2 photos below it. both were lit in the same manner – 1 canon 430 ex zoomed in to 50mm directed at the subjects. the camera settings and position were set on lock-down. there were some variations in the tonality of both images so i used the first of the 2 as the base image, superimposed the other and masked out the rest of the scene before adjusting the levels so that the subjects looked as though they were really in the same scene together.
alright, there’s that. i know that it was a lengthy post so thanks for reading. for the next shoot i am thinking of something more dramatic and moody so keep an eye out for that one.
to view the final layout of the spread, click here.
for larger versions of the images, visit my flickr by clicking here.
also, do check out my newly revamped website!