Jason Christopher, LA Commercial & Fashion Photographer Bio

Archive for the ‘Lighting on location’ Category

Lighting Diagram For Swimsuit Photo Shoot At Night

Friday, July 31st, 2009

So this is the lighting diagram I promised to show you for this image of our model laying back on the log.

Photo that demonstrates lighting for photo shoot on the beach

Photo that demonstrates lighting for photo shoot on the beach

This is a lighting diagram of my lighting

This is a lighting diagram of my lighting

So as I said in a previous post I was right under the soft box and sometimes I was standing with my legs really wide to capture her at the perfect angle.  The soft box was roughly 8 feet up on a C-stand and tilted up so I didn’t blow out the log and also to throw some light on the beach sand in the background.

So as you can see a one light set up is all that was needed.  Pretty friggin easy.

Night swimsuit photo shoot behind the scenes photos

Monday, July 27th, 2009

My recent fashion swimsuit photography shoot at the beach was amazing.  I happened to get my hands on some behind the scenes photos taken with a cheap point and shoot but they give you the idea.   Now when I say we had a 100 foot RV I didn’t measure it but as you can see it was damn long !  We had the art directors, model, make up and hair artists, crew etc. all fit in quite nicely.  When shooting on location where you know it will be uncomfortable for the models, your crew and everyone you really need to rent an RV.   A well fed and warm crew is a happy crew !  In one of the photos you see me standing there with a stand in while the model stayed warm in the RV.   Unfortunately no one took any photos of me shooting  :-(       LOL  the story of my life.

RV used for our night photo shoot

RV used for our night photo shoot

Art Directors for the photo shoot

Art Directors for the photo shoot

fashion model getting her make up applied for photo shoot

fashion model getting her make up applied

When planning a photo shoot the art director and photographer will make a story board of each scene to be shot.  In this story board you see a photo of the location, the swimsuits that the model will wear and the accessories such as jewelry.  Everything is planned out days before the photo shoot so everyone knows exactly what is going to happen.  You end up with a photo shoot that runs smooth with hopefully very little problems.

storyboard for night swimwear photo shoot

storyboard for night swimwear photo shoot

Then when it comes time to set up the lighting you need to have a stand in.  A stand in is very helpful because you can get your light set up pretty close to perfect while the model is getting her make up changed and changing clothes.

Stand in used for setting up the lighting

Stand in used for setting up the lighting

Just remember the more prepared you are the smoother your photo shoot will go.  The end result is a very pleased client that will call you back for another photo shoot.  If you like this post and think other photographers or anyone else associated with the photography business would find this helpful please click on the share buttons :-)

Sexy model bikini photo shoot

Tuesday, July 21st, 2009

bikini model photo shoot at night on beach

This is another photo from our late night fashion swimsuit shoot.  This time I only used the one 4′x6′ soft box in a horizontal position about 5 feet from the model.  But this time I tilted it up so that the log wouldn’t be so bright and what that also did was throw some light on the background sand.  I could have used a black cutter set under the box to block out some of the light but I didn’t have one lol.  My camera settings were ISO 200 , 1/80th @ f/10.  I used my Canon 28-70mm 2.8 L series lens and shot it at 30mm.  This means I was very close to the model and zoomed out wide.  I did this because I wanted to include more of the scene.  Remember, the longer the lens you use the more narrow your field of view is.  Of course the opposite is true with a wide lens.  Oh and I was sitting under the soft box.  I’ll make a diagram and post that.

Photo lighting diagram-night beach shoot

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Hi Gilbert, this is for you :-)   I love it ! Thank you for the GREAT questions and requests.  This is the feedback that is nice to get because I really want to make everyone happy.  This is exactly what I want from everyone. Interaction, communication is a two way street.  Ok so check out the photo lighting diagram below.

Photography lighting diagram

Photography lighting diagram

I tried something different this time by actually putting the shot in the diagram.  Tom, thank you for the compliments. I apologize for not posting in awhile.  I’ve been slammed with shooting which also means I have a ton of content to write about.

The soft box was pointed at the model of course and angled down to produce a nice sculpting effect.  It was placed on a c-stand about six feet sway from the model.  I was sitting on the beach sand right under the soft box.  I could have lit the totally dark background but my client wanted it to go totally black so that’s what I did.  I offered my suggestion but in the end the client has the final say.  I didn’t use another light to hit her hair because in MY opinion it would look too much like glamour lighting.  With fashion lighting you don’t always want your lighting to look “perfect”, like it was a template you used from a “how to” book.  When shooting portraits that’s different.  As you can see the rock right behind the model is lit so that gave me some separation with her hair.

The pack I used is a Profoto 7B and yes I had a second battery that was sitting in the charger and I eventually had to use it.  I didn’t use a generator because the state charges alot extra to use one and the permit was already $1,200, which included a state park ranger with us the whole time and a lifeguard.  If the shoot was during the day the permit would only be $65 because you aren’t required to have a ranger and a lifeguard there the whole time.  BTW the county says that if ANYONE on the crew is going to be in at least ankle deep water a lifeguard must be with you the whole time.  Remember this is only for a night shoot.

Morgan did have a robe and between lighting set ups she had a nice warm 100 foot RV to relax in and fresh coffee which I took advantage of as well while my assistants set up the next shot.  :-)   Now as we were shooting there was no way for her to stay warm.  That comes from her own inner strength and me constantly talking to her to keep her mind off the cold.

The power output varied from each set up.  Sometimes we were at full power and sometimes were were at half power etc.  Just depended on the situation.   My camera settings were : 100th of a second @ f/10.  I didn’t do a custom white balance, instead I set it to 5900 throughout the whole shoot and shot a color checker for reference.   I had another assistant shining a Maglight flashlight on the model so I could lock focus.  LOL I laughed when the client said “Isn’t that light going to affect your lighting?”

Tom you are always welcome to ask as many questions as you wish to. That is the whole reason I started this blog.  You don’t have to apologize :-)   EVERYONE please take note:  ASK AS MANY QUESTIONS ON AS MANY POSTS AS YOU WANT.  Go back in the archives and if there is something you don’t understand or you think of a question based on the shot that I didn’t cover by all means ASK ME.   If no one asks me questions then the blog just sits still.

Also, if anyone has any suggestions of topics they would like me to cover please let me know.  I made a category specifically for this.  Go to Photography Discussion-Ask me anything about photography and ask as much as you want.  Remeber this: there is no such thing as a dumb question.  I LOVE to teach and educate.  As a matter of fact I got my Associates Degree in child psychology because originally I wanted to be a teacher.   And REMEMBER TO CLICK THAT RSS BUTTON !  :-)

Swimsuit Photo Shoot-Photographing at Night

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

Ahhhh yes photographing a beautiful fashion model on the beach and getting paid for it.  The ultimate dream for most beginning photographers.  I mean come on, you’re at a beautiful beach, warm sun and beautiful women right in front of you.    Well yes that is awesome.  So when I got the call from my client I was stoked UNTIL she said she wants to shoot at night.  My mind raced with every possible problem that I would face which of course the client has no clue about  because that isn’t their job to know what problems could arise.

So we have fourteen swimsuits to photograph and five different locations at Sycamore Cove up in Ventura County.  Call time was 8pm and we would shoot until 3:30am !  Ok so yes it is summer here in Los Angeles but at night especially the later it gets on the beach the temperature drops very low.  I don’t know what the temp was exactly but it was friggin cold !

Yes the model was wearing pretty much nothing, the bikini’s are VERY small but I needed my fingers to work and needed my mind to function lol.  I wore a skull cap to keep my bald head warm and a couple of sweatshirts.

Ok so enough of my bitching.  Shooting on the beach during the day is a challenge but at night it is even more challenging. We had to calculate what night and time low tide would be and schedule the shoot accordingly. We got lucky as it was a full moon so we weren’t working in pitch blackness but it was dark.  Flashlights were a must.  I had two assistants, make up, hair etc. the whole shabang.


Now of course there is no electricity down on the beach so we rented a Profoto 7B pack, two heads and some grids.  My key light had a large 4 x 6 foot Pro Foto soft box coming from camera left and up high angled down a bit. My f stop was f/8.  The light you see on the rocks behind our model  was bare bulb with the standard reflector attached and my first assistant hand held it at just the right spot.  The tide would come in and sometimes the water was too high so we had to sit there and wait until I decided was the perfect time to pull the trigger.  You can’t tell but Morgan our model was freezing her ass off .  To make matters worse this was around 2:30 am !   It was VERY VERY cold.  So here she is not moving a muscle waiting for me to fire the shot.  This shoot was definitely a challenge.  You know what’s cool ? You can’t even tell how difficult it was because the final image looks like it was a breeze.  But that is what separates the men from the boys  ;-)   I would love to get some questions and comments on this post.  There is much more info I have to offer.  How in the world did I lock focus ?  But I want you guys to ask and I also want you to think about not just the technical aspects of the shoot but the psychology and how as a photographer I had to keep my model feeling beautiful even though she was freezing and wet.

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Lingerie Advertisement

Saturday, April 4th, 2009
high fashion lingerie photo shoot

high fashion lingerie photo shoot

This is a recent fashion lingerie advertisement that just came out.  Notice I posted this in the photography lighting on location section.  We shot this at the Bissell  house in Pasadena California.  Originally when the designer and I scouted the location we planned  the whole lighting scheme a certain way referenced from tear sheets she pulled from various magazines.  So I went over all the details with my assistants days before and brought all the gear we needed based on the ORIGINAL lighting design.

So we get to the location on the morning of the shoot and the designer decides she wants a TOTALLY different lighting design than what we had originally planned.  Well of course this is where your photography fundamentals come in and you better know your fundamentals otherwise you will never advance in this business.  I pulled my assistants aside and we discussed the changes that needed to be made in order to please the client.  Remember this:  at the end of the day pleasing your client is what will get you the call again for another shoot.

Long story short we made it happen and it didn’t take long to figure it all out.  Notice I placed this post in the lighting on location because it is on location and not just a studio where everything is controlled.  You have ambient light to deal with coming from windows and the sun is moving throughout the day.

Now in response to Stikman’s comment, yes you can go wrong even though you have great models.  Models are just objects to hang the clothes on to make the clothes look great.  Well if you don’t know how to light your models wearing the clothes, the designer will not be able to sell their clothes to buyers.  Buyers want to buy clothes, not models  :-)

Photographing Fashion Models Using Available Indoor Light

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I decided to post this photo in the Lighting On Location section because location doesn’t just mean outdoors.  Many times I like to use the available light that is in the room.  In this instance it was a bathroom.  Now  this is something I learned from Helmut Newton.  When he first started shooting he couldn’t afford professional lighting.  He was very poor.  So he used the lamps in his house as his lighting source.  Of course back then he used film and did all his color correcting in the darkroom or used the correct film for such lighting conditions.  But I have come to like the warm color cast that results from NOT white balancing my camera.  This is the original shot.   I was on a tripod using

available indoor photography lighting

available indoor photography lighting

a very slow shutter speed and a high ISO.  The model has to keep very still OR even a little blur is ok.  It makes it more artistic.  Again, remember there is no right or wrong UNLESS the client doesn’t like it.  In this case my client, Deliverance Poker did like it.

Now I also wanted to try something else so I made the image black and white in Lightroom.  I also cropped it much tighter.  I like both versions.  I just want to show you how you don’t ALWAYS have to use additional lighting to capture a great shot.

This is the black and white cropped version.

black and white conversion photo

black and white conversion photo

They both look great.  I would love to know your thoughts and opinions.

Fashion Lighting In The Desert Made Simple

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

So I recently shot  a fashion shoot advertising campaign out in Las Vegas and on one of the days we had to go find a long strip of road with very little traffic.  I had five models and about an hour before the sun went down.  Instead of setting up a really complicated lighting scheme I just worked with the sun and my Metz 54mz on camera flash.  I had my assistants park the car so the sun would be behind the model or at least coming from the side of her.  Taking out the Metz I had so much going on in my head, how should I pose her, expression, how much longer til I lose my light etc., I said screw it !  Let’s just shoot !  I was up close, about 4 feet from the subject on a wide lens, this creates a grand look.   It took about 3 shots to dial in my exposure and this is what I ended up with.  The client loved it !

Fashion Shot for Deliverance Poker

Fashion Shot for Deliverance Poker