Nicole has always been on my bucket list of models to work with. After our shoot for FHM Magazine 8 years ago, it was only then when the stars aligned themselves again, and I have her in front of the lens. Reunion shoots are the best kind for me. It rekindles old friendships, and that’s where I draw the inspiration to work with them.
This was shot in “Raffy’s Last Resort” (as I fondly call his place), at the 2nd floor of their main house. We don’t get to go up there on a regular basis, so I take the chance every time we can. The last time was for Jinri’s calendar several months back. The challenge in this scenario is maximizing the space without losing the inspiration. More often than not, when you’ve shot in a location several times in a row, you get a bout with location fatigue. Your brain gets tired of seeing the place, and automatically go for spots you have used previously.
As they quote it in Criminal Minds, it’s all about “looking at the scene with fresh eyes.”
This particular layout was hard to imagine at first. The light was coming from a wide window with a screen, but covered with lots of foliage outside. There’s not much sun peeking through and any cloud cover immediately drops the available light coming in. What I did here is compensate with strobes, but simulating how the room would be naturally lit.
My main light was a brolly box aimed to the wall corner wall. This diffuses the effect, at the same time picks up the tinge color of the room. The ceiling had an old green lamp, which coincidentally is a signature look for an Asian cinema feel, but it was already too weak to be picked up by the camera. I had to place a gelled strobe firing on the opposite side, to boost the green light effect from the lamp without having an overpowered effect on it. My last light is a highlight hitting the chair, just missing off her shoulder.
But again, I’m not relying on the strobes alone. I’m actually picking quite alot of the ambient light. All the strobes were powered down to their minimum. As for my camera settings, I upped the ISO to 800 and aperture to 2.8.
The color grading is a punchier version of the Asian film look I usually do. I upped saturation on the reds and magentas, but had to kill a bit on the yellows. I also overlaid a green tinge on the entire image, and dropped the opacity below 20%. The backside of had a hanging green lamp from the ceiling, giving off that vintage Chinese feel.
This set was more on the natural light, and I just used the modeling bulb from one of the strobes to light up the corridor behind the stairs.
I did her headshots against a brown wall in Raffy’s patio in front of their house. This is pretty much straight up and chose that spot since the light was diffused and soft. I did my usual color grading for effect. Not sure if this really hits the spot, but I’ve always loved experimenting with various color grading effects.