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The Process of Shooting 3 Images

I recently had the pleasure of shooting one of the most perfect dresses I can imagine. Now normally I don’t pay huge attention to wardrobe in the sense that I am not shooting fashion. I care very much about the costume my model wears, but I don’t get overly excited about a gorgeous dress or some piece of high fashion. This dress, however, was pretty much my dream rolled into a big piece of fabric. It had a pirate flair and enough fabric to cover my car entirely with just the train.

Okay, enough gushing about the dress. I was able to shoot with Lindsay Adler, one of my closest friends, out in an expansive field where we shot this behind the scenes video:

She shot in direct sunlight and utilized the nearly-gone, beautiful end of the day sunlight. It was golden and wonderful, and looked beautiful…but my photographic eye sees a little bit differently, and while it looked beautiful as I stood there watching, it wasn’t what I wanted to capture in my camera. I shoot in all natural, diffused light because of how flat the lighting is. It might sound strange to call the light flat and refer to it as a good thing, but for me that means that I can manipulate it more during the editing process. It also allows for a dark and eerie overall feeling to the images which is right up my alley. When I say that it can be more easily manipulated, that is because the light is even all over the image. If I want to select a portion of the photograph and brighten it or darken it, I can do so without the light looking inconsistent. I do this to every one of my photographs; I change the lighting dynamics.

"They Power Play"

In this instance we had wind already helping us out, so the task that Lindsay assisted me with was holding the fabric in one place or another. I usually had her hold it down on the ground, which let the wind ripple through the dress. This allowed the light to hit the dress in interesting ways, creating highlights and shadows and drawing the eye across the image. The other thing that I wanted to do was create an interesting juxtaposition between the model and the power lines, which I did ages ago in this image. By getting a low angle for some of the shots I was able to see more of the sky and power lines, which also resulted in a silhouetted form  of the model against the sky. I will rarely play with a silhouetted form in my pictures, though I have been inspired to do some extreme silhouette imagery thanks to a video game I came across recently. This was not inspired by that desire, but instead by wanting to play up the idea that we are all simply forms without identities. The power lines are present and just as much a character as the girl in the dress. The dress itself takes on properties that seem too big to be a regular dress. The model bends her hands into a harsh position, very strong and daring, mimicking the power lines in the distance.

"To Beg for Fire"

For another shot, I took two different exposures and used those two exposures to blend and create different lighting effects. I used the brighter image for the model’s skin, while I used the darker image for the surroundings. The process was using layer masking to combine those two pictures and allow the model’s skin to be properly exposed in an otherwise dark image. Now normally this would be an HDR photograph, except that it wasn’t done in exactly the same way. Because of the moving subject, I photographed the whole scene several times “normally”, or with proper exposure for her skin, so that I could get the right shot. The above image was about 5 images put together for the final effect. Once the model moved out of the way, I shot a “plate”, which is a shot with no model in the scene, just the background. I shot that with the same exposure, and then I took the exposure way down to get detail in the sky and surroundings. I blended those together to create an HDR effect without actually doing HDR.

"Crescent Moon"

In the final image I wanted to do something different with my processing. I selected the dress only and took up contrast drastically. This created an HDR effect which would have been difficult to do automatically given that the dress was moving so rapidly in the wind. By shooting in RAW I was able to retain a lot of detail in the shadows and highlights. The initial image was quite bright compared to this, to the point where details were barely visible in the dress. However, after darkening and adding contrast, there were many recoverable details in the highlights of the image. I used the same process to bring back the cloud in the sky while leaving her skin bright and untouched. I also took two exposures of this, but found the selection method to be more effective than blending two images in this instance.

I had the most amazing time shooting with Lindsay Adler, who I just adore in every way. We may not take the same kinds of pictures, but I think that is what fuels our friendship even more. We are so very alike in our ways of thinking, both in creativity and business, that the final product of image is almost irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what the outcome is as long as we both love creating, and we most certainly do. I think we would have never stopped shooting, laughing, and downright frolicking if she didn’t have to board a plane back to New York City. It won’t be long though until we’re teaching together again (After Dark photo convention in May!), and in the meantime I have work to catch up on. I’ll be releasing dates for my European workshops very shortly, so I have to get to work!

I hope this blog post provided some insights into the creation process for these images :)

{ 7 } Comments

  1. Robin | April 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    Loved the video, Brooke! I waited all weekend for it, and it was definitely worth the wait. You and Lindsay are funny.

  2. Greg Gardner | April 23, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I have a workshop with Lindsay in Philly soon, very excited! It’s great to see 2 different styles working together in the video and Lindsay is hysterical!

  3. Adriana Acevedo | April 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Brooke, you are always ever so inspiring! Love the BTS vids! I was so excited to see you working with Lindsay! I am also a fan of Lindsay Adler especially since she works with the branch of photography I really want to get into. Hopefully I get to meet her at the Creative LIVE workshop in June! I got to check Brooke Shaden off my list of influential people I got to meet (in Chicago) and if I have it my way I will get to check off Lindsay too! Much love and well wishes to you as you go to Europe!Safe travels! :)

  4. ani mendez | April 23, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Really different styles, really great pics both!

  5. Lindsay | April 23, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    This is a fantastic shoot! Love both of your concepts and ESPECIALLY the behind the scenes video. Thanks again!

  6. Olga Markova | April 24, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Amazing ideas, Brooke. Amazing photos!
    I like the last one the most. The composition is great. I can even feel the flow of her dress.
    Please keep surprising us with your work. I always look forward to your next photo.

  7. Brandie Minchew | April 30, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    I loved the video and the peek into both creative processes and philosophies! The playfulness of the video made me grin, too. :D

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