No makeup project – second shoot

27 February 2017 by GordonM in people portrait project 0 comments
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No makeup project – second shoot

Time to continue with my photo project which is taking photos of female models and other women with no makeup.  I was really pleased with how the first shoot came out with the lovely Paige Dakin and the other day I was looking forward to round 2, this time with a very experienced model Simone Stokes.  Simone has done lots of creative work before but never had the chance before to strip it right back to no makeup on a model shoot.   So she was keen to do this as well as myself.

So whilst I explained a little on my first blog post about why I was doing this project, I thought I might expand with more reasons why this project feels important to me.  I don’t know if you can remember the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty some time ago, well I recalled the aim of that and in my mind I thought that as photographers we should also have a responsibility to be more inclusive and encourage equality and diversity in the fashion/modelling world.   This sits nicely alongside current trends for fashion houses and magazines encouraging curves in fashion models nowadays and we should not be afraid to embrace it.   Then there are the times when you look at a model when they come to the studio fresh-faced without makeup ready for the makeup artist to work their magic and you just think, wow – there are elements of beauty already present without makeup.  And then reinforce this with the great work in the recent Pirelli calendar shot by Peter Lindbergh and it just sets the mind racing as to the potential of making a woman feel great with an increased confidence and natural beauty without the need for makeup.  

Anyway, down to the technicalities.  On the first shoot I was trying to isolate Paige’s face and neck from the background, hence choosing both background and her top in black.  The natural light coming from a window on that shoot was nice and soft and quite bright, so I was able to achieve the effect I wanted relatively easy with the aid of a reflector.   This second shoot was slightly different though.  This time instead of the black top I wanted to introduce a couple of blouses to mix up the theme a bit and also move across to a natural light window with a different distressed background.

However I was faced with a different problem with the lighting.  This time the light coming from the window was quite poor, a dull overcast day …. which is sometimes good as it becomes soft … but no, it was too dull even with the potential of going up to 3200 ISO on the X-T2.  So I had to supplement it with the florescent light on the ceiling and then use a reflector as a bit of fill from below.  You could almost say it was clamshell lighting.  Now if you know your colour balance theory you’ll know that florescent lights give off a green tint.  And if I’d used a tungsten modelling light then it would have an orange glow and like a flash would also have been quite directional even with a softbox.   So how was this going to fit what I wanted to do.   Well, quite easy really, as I was always aiming for black and white (B/W) photos anyway and if I introduced a couple of white boards I could soften any shadows if necessary 🙂

So now there was sufficient light to once again use my Fuji X-T2 with a 56mm f1.2 lens, aperture priority set at f2 to give a nice fall-off blur towards the background and auto-ISO to cope with any change in the lighting coming from the window.  Because I was aiming for black and white, I set the camera to RAW+Jpg and Acros B/W so my preview on-screen was B/W too.  Using RAW as well with the colour balance set to Auto then at least I could do some work with colour afterwards if I wanted to.   Once more the X-T2 performed really well, both under this florescent light and using just a window later on for another portrait look.

Talking to Simone through the shoot she said she’d like a “gritty” edge to the B/W photos so using Lightroom once again I set about creating a preset to give that effect.  So here you go, hope you like the photos.

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