Daily Photo – MC at Vicci

Every month or two a group of local photographers get together to shoot at an interesting venue in Austin. The emphasis is off camera flash techniques, and the group maintains a regular forum on flickr called, appropriately, Strobist Austin.

For the March gathering, 45 photographers descended on Vicci with five models in tow. Vicci has a fairly interesting and diverse interior, so we rotated groups of photographers and models around the site in an effort to keep everyone’s shots from being identical. Still, there’s only so much you can do with that many people (subsequent get togethers have had a better subject to shooter ratio).

I wasn’t too happy with this particular set up — the colors were all wrong, the outfit was weak and the background stunk. Michelle was a trooper though, and everyone did their best to make the most of it (did I mention the 4 or 5 strobes? Complete overkill). To be fair, these gatherings are supposed to be learning experiences, so the goal wasn’t necessarily to get a great shot as much as to deepen our knowledge of lighting.


  • Shutter: 1/125
  • Aperture: f/5.6
  • ISO: 100
  • Camera: Canon EOS 1ds Mark III
  • Lens: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM
  • Lighting: 60″ softlighter camera right, SB800 camera right (further right than the softlighter and aimed more at the background), SB800 camera left as fill, plus one more strobe camera left and on background (I think, going mostly from memory on this and the fact three of the lights show up in the reflection from her eye).


Composition and Processing

  • We each had only a few minutes to shoot in each setup, so I thought up a few compositions in advance. There was a curtain hanging on the wall behind the couch she was sitting on (the couch you can’t see), and I thought we could do something interesting with it draped partly around her. Except that when we set the shot up I discovered it was tacked to the wall in a million places, allowing about as much movement as you see here. So I had her pull it as tight as she could, framing her face with the material on one side and her arms top/bottom.
  • I didn’t expect to crop so close afterward, but it really focused the attention on her face and, conveniently, got rid of most of the yellow dress. I often do off-center compostions like this, but I’d normally move it to the opposite corner (upper left) because her head is turned slightly down and to the (camera) right. Sometimes its better to go against your normal instincts.
  • I tried a number of other colors for the dress, but couldn’t find anything that matched the curtain better.
  • Her arms and face are blown out intentionally. I like that look when I use Nik’s bleach bypass effect. The original image was so monotone, it needed something, and the composition itself wasn’t strong enough to carry it otherwise. I do like the final color for the curtain, although that’s due as much to the bleach bypass effect as the color balance I did afterward to cool it off (lots of blue).

The rest of the Vicci shoot can be seen here.

September 14 2008 08:41 pm | Photography

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