Behind the scenes, reviews, and other commentary.


Above: Final image from the shoot. I always love the way light interacts with smoke. 

    Its funny, I feel like every year or two I buy a cheap little fog machine to use for shoots, use it once, and then it breaks and I end up getting another one later on. I hadn't had a working one for a while so I finally ordered another and was on my way to some cool new photos. 

Above: Another final image with cooler colors and emphasized fog.

    I had been looking around on Pinterest for references for a different shoot and kept coming across photos that made cool use of candles or fire that really inspired me. I haven't really done anything with fire in it before so I thought I would start small with a bunch of little tea lights. I ended up getting so many more than I needed but I suppose that just means I can use them again for something else later on. Anyway, my friend Monica (who is the person behind the mask in these photos) works at a flower shop and is able to get a bunch of flowers easily so she brought me bouquets of old roses and I dried them in the oven. Those dried roses and some extra rose petals from plants already in the garden made up the ground cover. 

    The idea was loosely based on the idea of someone holding a ritual at a grave yard trying to resurrect a dead loved one. Or maybe just being obsessed with the person, even after death, and spending time with them like this. "The body" wrapped in burlap is an old plastic skeleton that I've had for a few years. I figured it would look alright since it would be covered in fabric.

    For this shoot I was mostly concerned with the set and atmosphere and didn't really think that much about the actual styling. (Probably should have done more there..) A few days before the shoot I ended up grabbing some nice red cloth to use as a sort of veil and ended up adding in the mask about half way through the shoot. 

    Before the actual shoot I wanted to get an idea of what the photos might look like so I tried out the fog and some light in my back yard a few nights before. Afterwards I took a quick photo of myself draped in the cloth with my computer's webcam and quickly added it in with Photoshop to make a little mockup:

Above: Quick and dirty Photoshop mockup of the general idea I was going for. I didn't have the candles yet so I just clicked in a few highlights. I liked how the hands and face could kind of be seen like this but during the actual shoot the light was different and I ended up adding in the mask because the human features ended up being hard to see. 

    The shoot itself was fun and laid back. My friends Alison and Jade were there as well to hang out and help with things. Since we had to wait till dark to really get started, we had some food and hung around while I leisurely prepared the little set in my back yard. Here are some cool behind the scenes photos that Alison took:

During the shoot in addition to the two hot lights I was using (Ok well yeah they are my usual flashes that I used as hot lights with the built in modeling lights..) I had Jade hold a bright flashlight behind the model to play with lighting the smoke in different ways. We tried a bunch of different colors and angles and I ended up with a lot of different options. Here are a few of the different colors and looks in unretouched screenshots of my Lightroom library:

All in all it was a pretty fun little shoot. It always satisfies me to put things together like this and as usual I try and promise myself that I'll be doing more often. I think that the current fog machine that I have should hopefully last for some more shoots so it will be cool to be able to use that if I want to. And I definitely want to try some things with more fire. Exactly what, I'm not too sure yet but it'll probably be fun. 

    Here is one more image I finished from the shoot. In general I felt like this shoot was better captured in landscape orientation but I think the portrait shot works alright as well: