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NSFW: Steam punk inspired styling for photo shooting in a lost place

9/18/2015 ISO 1200 Magazine 2 Comments

Download the Lightroom preset used for the postproduction of these photos. Link inside the electronic magaine!

If you love photography, you know that sometimes you want to add that little something 'extra' to your photos. I want to motivate you to go the extra mile and go there so you can get those amazing photos - those really dynamic and dramatic shots.

I'm working at an old ruin in Germany with Barbara, shooting a steam punk themed shoot. I wanted to photograph her in a way that had action and drama without being too Hollywood. How to do that without being too 'Hollywood' and acting out action scenes? I chose to add dramatic elements to the shoot with a variety of qualities: the style, the location, the light.

Barbara was styled in true steam punk fashion with pieces crafted from Amazon and other online marketplaces. My wife Emily styled our model in corsets, metal applications, belts, a steam punk top hat, and steam punk goggles. I bought most of these items online, but you could probably find similar items at a flea market!

I am using a combination of soft front light for a large soft box and a harsh back light. The back light will acts as a rim which fires as a standard reflector onto the back of the model, making for great shots. I'm using an Indra 500 portable studio light because it's light weight and it runs on battery - no need for a power outlet! However, it is so strong that it will overpower the ambient light. The Indra's so small that I'm able to fit it into an easy up umbrella soft box. This is a modifier that I can fold it together really small, but it expands big.

For adding extra drama, so I am adding a bit of smoke. I didn't want to bring a huge fog machine. Instead I used small smoke tablets. Just put them into an ashtray and light them up. They release large amounts of smoke! This is when I quickly shoot with back lighting going into the smoke, and voila! I've got my drama. They're safe and relatively affordable, too, and are a great tool to use to create that extra drama.

The Indra's are not set to this Manual control, they are set to TTL so that I can remote control them with the Odin radio controller. I set them up at one quarter power. I just dial it in on the Odin, and it talks to the Indra. I do the same for the backlight, which is on the same settings. However, it's going through a standard reflector, which makes it come across harder and much brighter, because the standard reflector swallows less light.

I used my 5D Mark III camera. It was in ISO 100 because it was bright, and at f/2.8 because I wanted a relatively shallow depth of field. With the brightness of this sunny day, it was shot at 1/1600 of a second. I used this setup for pretty much every scene that day, whether against blue sky or the ground, and the shots were stunning.

You're going to need to do some work to pull off this shoot, but it's not a huge project, it's doable, and it's fun! You'll need to do some location scouting, shop style elements, and find a model. At the end, you'll get some special photos that you and your model will love! I hope you have a lot of fun putting this shoot together and trying it out for yourself.

Michael from

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Unknown said...

NSFW tag would be goooooood...... ;)

Done :D