A while ago I was home alone with the little one and my fingers were itching to shoot something. Sometimes you’re forced to do difficult things – so I shot my daughter.
I didn’t really know what I wanted to shoot, I just knew that I wanted to shoot something, anything. It just so happened that the sky outside was providing some decent drama, so I wanted to incorporate that somehow. I thought it would be a nice break from shooting things on a studio type background as well – not that I really have anything against that, it just isn’t all that interesting after a while.
I wanted some drama in this shot so I started by under exposing the sky by several stops. Not very difficult since I wanted to close down the aperture in order to get more focus throughout the whole scene anyway; what’s the use of a dramatic sky if you’re going to blur it into bokeh oblivion? That left my foreground dark, perfect for adding my own light and dial up the drama even more. I didn’t want the light to be too soft so I set up a LP160 with small softbox (and some cto gel), boomed above and just in front of the subject. At that distance the light is still fairly soft but it provides more of an edge than a big softbox would do. Besides, a big softbox would have resulted in something of a space problem, so going with the smaller version was a natural choice.
Next order of business was to tackle the biggest challenge, getting my subject to pose for me. She’s standing on a sofa with its back against the window. I placed her there and then proceeded to point,
maniacally frantically enthusiastically, at absolutely nothing of interest outside the window while raving like a lunatic with a bubbly voice about how awesome everything out there was. This resulted, predictably, in mostly quizzical looks that seemed to indicate that she strongly suspected I had gone off the deep end and was, at this point, probably beyond help. However, she couldn’t quite contain her curiosity, which gave me a few frames where she looked in the right direction. Of course, it could have been that she was worried that my madness had some base in reality and just wanted to make sure there weren’t any space monkeys (or such) out there.
I have to say that the end result was above expectations, considering it was such a thrown together affair. There are still plenty of aspects that could have been improved though, the most obvious of which is the subject’s clothes. Don’t get me wrong, I think my girl is adorable in her ladybug PJ, it’s just that it doesn’t really fit the mood of the rest of the photo. That same day my wife came home with a brown cardigan for her, which would have been just perfect over a simple dress. Another thing that could have helped would have been to do something about the less than clean state the window is currently in…I’ll get right on that…
A more subtle change, that I only thought about a few days later, would have been to flag the softbox a bit, maybe just put a strip of gaffer tape around the edges to keep the light more focused on just the subject, especially keeping it off the curtain a bit more. Still, I can’t complain too much about a shot that I thought of on the spot like this. The pose and facial expression my model gave me was also very lucky and saved the day.
I’ll leave you with a question. Do you think the flower in the second shot is a distraction or does it help to balance the shot? Personally I’m leaning towards the latter; it gives the eye something to rest on in that otherwise empty area. My favourite is still the first one though, her expression there is just perfect.