An angel in my garden – NSFW

beauty, location, Nude, Personal Pictures

Hello there,

some nice days in september allowed for some extra outdoor work.

the atmosphere in the garden was nice, the model was feeling good and relaxed. We spent some time here enjoying the sun an warm weather. The most difficult thing to tackle are the bright highlights. It is almost impossible not to wash out the highlights if you want some decent light in the shadow area’s. thats why it is actually much easier to shoot in a softly clouded sky situation than with bright light. Exposing for the bright highlights will give you near black shadows, exposing for the shadows will give you over-exposed hightlights.

I do not have an assistant with a sun-washer filter, so I often will shoot in a back-lit situation, with some highlight clipping in the bright area’s, and a lot of fill light in post processing. An alternative is seeking for the cover of a leaf tree, as we did in some images.

Elisabeth did great. Thank you. I hope you like the images.

Except last two (50mm Sigma) all images with Canon 135 mm f2.0 at f2.5

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Model photography – Corinne Vionnet style

Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks

A former classmate from photography classes is currently still following courses in a different institute, to further expand his photographic horizons.

He came with the question ‘if I could figure out how to make a Corinne Vionnet image’ …

Corinne Vionnet has created a series of works, assembling a massive amount of tourists images (1000) into one single image. The resulting image is some kind of a condensed, time-spanning  assembly of the tourist spot at hand.

I’ve tried to assemble similar style images with a limited number of beauty shots. These are the results.

Vionnet style 02 Vionnet style 01

 

I got interested in this technique, and I thought that I could make a ‘universal female portrait’, so I assembled 45 different images into one portrait. Image here under. Looks funny, but I liked the originals more.

This made me think about ‘Das Parfum’, the novel by Patrick Süskind, where the Jean Baptiste Grenouille tries to capture the essence of young women in a perfume, (he has to kill the women for his perfume) but instead of creating a perfume of youth, he became a monster.  Not that the below image looks like a monster, but it is not exactly a beauty either. 😀 A lot is due to the different angles in which the original faces are oriented in the image. I need to try with ‘straight facing’ portraits next time.

45 female portraits

I think I should experiment a little more with it, to see where I can get to with portrait work. Anyway, my friend was pleased with the results, and I have discovered something new. 🙂

 

thank you for reading,

 

Ludwig

 

Portrait – Mysterious

Personal Pictures, portrait

I’m generally very careful about the integrity and privacy of my models. Usually when I shoot artistic work with a model I contact, I have my models sign an image release contract. This enables me to be able to publish the images on my personal web and marketing platforms (such as this blog), exhibits and book publishing. Mostly they still get the possibility to refuse image X or Y from a selection, if they think they are not beneficial to their personal image. Also they have the option to be published under a different ‘model name’ than their real name.

For people contacting me for a shoot, things are a bit different, they pay me for my work, and although I automatically get the image rights for the pictures I take, I do not have the ‘right of publication’ of them, without explicit consent of the person in the portrait. This is not contract bound, but on an ‘allow or refuse’ free decision of the client.

I made a series of portraits of this lady here. If I asked here, would it be ok if I post an image of this series on my blog, she said ‘no problem, as long as it stays anonymous’.

So here she comes: ‘The mysterious lady from the Brussels region’

Canon 5D mark II, Sigma 50 mm f1.4 DG A, 1/80 s – f1.4 – ISO 400

ludwig desmet Mystery-4844

thank you for reading

ludwig

Pauline on film – NSFW

beauty, Nude, Personal Pictures, photo gear

Ludwig Desmet-KISP_materie-3345

I told you before I would talk a bit more about the Rolleiflex I use for shooting on film.
The camera is a Twin Lens Reflex, built in the late 50’s, so the camera is about 60 years old.
The construction with the two lenses, of which the upper lens is for viewing only (viewing lens) and the lower lens is for taking the image (taking lens) has advantages and disadvantages. In comparison to the older camera’s that used flat film sheets, where one had to remove the matte focusing screen before putting in the film holder for taking the image, this camera allows to shoot multiple images without moving anything. There is a 45° tilted mirror behind the viewing lens, projecting a mirrored image on the horizontal focusing screen.
Of course viewfinder camera’s existed as well, but they had no visual reference of the focusing plane, or the sharpness of the subject when changing focus. A photographer using a viewfinder camera had to use the distance scale on the lens, and the not so trusty guesswork for camera to subject distance.
Both lenses of the this TLR move forward and backward while focussing, and so provide an identical image on the ground glass as the image to be expected on the film. Still, the smallest amount of inaccuracy of the lens focusing mechanism leads to bad focusing, and I believe this camera suffers at least some looseness in the forward-backward movement.
Dealing with this complex mechanism of focusing, meant also that these camera’s are mostly fixed focal length. Some camera’s came in different focal length versions, but camera’s with interchangeable lenses where very rare. (Except for the Mamiya C)
This camera comes with a 75 mm f3.5 lens, it also existed in a f2.8 version, usually much more expensive on the secondhand market. 75 mm on 6×6 film format has an equal viewing angle to a 38 mm lens on Full frame DSLR, or a 24 mm lens on a 1.6 crop camera, so a rather ‘wide-standard’ viewing angle.
The lens is certainly not paramount, and suffers heavily from flare, as can be seen in the images below (does somebody have a lens hood for this camera for me?). An aperture of 3.5 gives a good amount of image unsharpness on medium format. 2.8 would be nicer of course. The images lack a bit of contrast and sharpness.
Composing with the mirrored image on the focusing plane is a bit of a habit.
Shutter speed range is limited, from 2 seconds to 1/500th of a second, thus mostly limiting the wide open apertures in bright light. The mirror does not move, since it is not obstructing the film plane, so there are not vibrations from this side. Activating the shutter however demands some finger movement (unlike today’s DSLR’s where pushing the shutter entirely only takes some tenth of a millimeter) causing some hand stress and maybe movement unsharpness. Shutter speeds as long as 1/15th. of a second seem not possible to me without image shake. Maybe with some more experience.
The camera has a built in exposure meter, but it no longer works, so exposer should be metered with another camera, or with a hand held meter, I use the latter.
Film for this camera is widely available here in Belgium, both black and white and color film. Not sure about slides. Development is still available too, although it can take a while (1-2 weeks) before getting the negatives back. Scanning the negatives, as well as retouching them (from dust) is a tedious process.

The biggest advantages for me is that I spend more time composing, and checking out if everything is well in place before taking the image. It learns me to concentrate more on details, on exposure, on posing etc. … One roll of film equals 12 exposures, after that the fun is over. 😀 The fact that you see the image mirrored gives you a fresh view on your scene, revealing flaws in your image/composing remaining unnoticed as you set it up. (But I still have a lot to learn)
A second big advantage is that the images are square format. This gives me a more relaxed feeling when composing, and I believe that the images are more harmonious too. I kind of like this square format more and more. (This made me thinking about modifying a matte screen for my 5D mark II to indicate ‘square’ cropping).

changes I have had:

I had the original focusing screen replaced with a focusing screen with split prism and microprism focusing aids, and that adds to the accuracy of focussing with the camera.  I also had the shutter speeds checked out by the same specialist repair shop that also changed the focusing screen.

To be continued. Enjoy this small portrait series I made with Pauline lately – Rolleiflex 3.5E – Tmax 400 film.

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thank you for reading, see you soon,

Ludwig

Clair-Obscur, or playing with light

beauty, people, Tips and Tricks

When I met Pauline at a hotel room in Ghent, the sun was shining brightly. This led to a difficult light situation, with very high contrasts in the room. (Contrast ratio 10/1 sunlit: 1/500s f2.0 ISO100 – shadow: 1/50s f2.0 ISO100) You either have to stay out of direct sunlight, or be very careful working into it. The key here is to make sure that your exposures are good for the sunlit areas, and certainly not overexposed. This can be done by spot metering the lit area’s and fixing your exposure to that metering. This gives you dramatic contrasts, and a perfect light situation for the ‘hide and reveal’ kind of images. The situation became even more tricky later on, as thick clouds began to block the light more often than not. All images with Canon 5D II and Sigma 50 mm f1.4 Art.

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I loved working with Pauline, she’s full of character, she has confidence in me as a photographer, and she’s willing to play with the camera. Of course her drama lessons add a lot to that.

see you soon for some analog images from this same shoot. I shot two rolls of T-Max 400 film that same afternoon.

Ludwig

Tatjana on film

beauty, Personal Pictures

From the shoot Tatjana at Sabine’s house, Kodak T-max 400 on Rolleiflex 3.5

Model: Tatjana DN
Make up: Heidi Huys
Hair: Nathalie Renard

Many thanks to Sabine V. for letting me use her home as a setting.
I’ll do another post soon with a little more information on the camera.

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thank you for watching,

Ludwig

Natural looking portraits – Shoot with Kim part II

beauty, Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks

I sometimes get the remark that my models don’t smile enough. As a reaction I created a Facebook Album with all model laughs I captured in the last 18 months. You cannot prevent smiling yourself by looking at them.
We have the natural reaction of making someone smile at us when we want to take a picture. It might be good to look at, but it is not at all natural behavior to have a smile on your face trough the day. (except when you are madly in love, maybe)

It is more of a challenge to have people look natural in their portraits.
Here are two tips that might help you get a natural looking portrait.
1. Make them interact with themselves, not with you.
Make yourself invisible to them, make them forget about you, make them think of something else. One great way to do that is having your model look at herself in a mirror. They might feel a little uncomfortable at first, but I noticed that most of my models are very well able to look at themselves in the mirror without any problems. You can still give them instructions, but they are no longer directly facing a stranger with a big camera in front of him, they are facing themselves, and that is a lot more familiar. In looking at herself, she will also create a mood of intimacy and comfort as a bonus.

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2. Make them connect to themselves, not to you.
This might look similar to 1, but it is different after all.
When you see that your model is having difficulties looking into a camera neutrally without turning into a grin face in an attempt to prevent from laughing, it might be a good idea to try this:
Have her keep her eyes closed for some seconds, and then look at you. The time taken will allow her not to connect to the outer world, (unlike the mirror, where she still connects to her body/face/how she looks) but to her inner thoughts and soul. This will quickly make all facial expressions fade away, giving you the perfect neutral face, neutral or natural, whatever you prefer.

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Try it, it’ll work.

Images are from my session with Kim, she never posed before, we worked for about 2 and a half hours in The Mansion and this resulted in many great pictures of her. You can click on the images to see a bigger version.

thank you for reading.

Ludwig

Guest speaker at VISO

Personal Pictures, personal tips & tricks, Tips and Tricks

Viso is a secondary grade (12-18y.) school in Ghent, with degrees in media, multi-media, graphic design, photography etc. …
I have been asked to give two short demo/workshop sessions in portrait photography, to pupils who have no photography in their portfolio.
First I try to explain the simple principles of shutter speed, aperture and ISO, the advantages of a Reflex camera vs. a cell phone, the importance of making a back-up of your images etc.

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(Thank you to Veerle for the behind the scenes images)

After a short theoretical introduction we have about an hour left for some practical exercises. With a very limited setup, I show these boys and girls the importance of good, soft light, the oh so often forgotten need of interaction with your subject, and some simple tips and tricks on posing, framing and finally how I post-process the images. All this in a two hour session, so a very very condensed package. I work with volunteers (sometimes I point them out to gain some time) at the model side and at the photographer side, and give advice on how to improve the images as they work.

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At the end I take some additional pictures for the models brave enough to pose in front of their classmates (not an easy task in front of a group of 40).
I had asked for some continue lamps (simply big hot bulbs) and two styrofoam boards from the schools studios. (the photography classes in VISO are given in the same studio’s as the studio’s we use at KISP evening classes, so I know fairly well what’s available 😉 ) Same styrofoam boards I use at home as reflecting panels.
One lamp is aiming at a first styrofoam board, away from the model, so we get some nice big bounced light surface. (left in the BTS images) another lamp is used to give a hair light. Pretty rude setup, I know, but a very good and simple setup for a demo. I have the impression most of the students have had a good time, I hope some of them actually will start looking at photography a little differently.

Some results from during the session:

Maya montage

sofie montage

thanks for reading!

Ludwig

The best possible add-on for your dslr.

beauty, Personal Pictures, photo gear

I give evening classes for adults, teaching them the very basics of photography. They learn about aperture, shutter speed and iso settings, the basics of composition, light metering, Depth of Field, how to handle their camera etc. …
In about 5 months, they become a bit more aware of the ins and outs of digital photography.

Soon, after a couple of months, the same question comes up in every group: ‘I’m willing to invest in some more equipment, what should I buy?’.

You should see this question in the understanding that most people bought a DSLR (digital single lens reflex) without any technical knowledge about photography, and mostly they have followed the sellers advice of buying a body and a kit-lens (or two kit-lenses).
These zoom kit-lenses generally have a maximum aperture of about f 1:4.0 closing further down to f1:5.6 on zooming.
Especially when we talk about DOF (depth of field) and the relation between the aperture setting and the span of depth of field, my students quickly realize that with their zoom lenses with relatively small maximum apertures, they will never get the result they want.
A bigger aperture setting gives a more shallow depth of field, this means that the bigger your aperture is, the blurrier the background will be. An effect often sought after, to make the subject ‘pop up’ from the background.

So my advice mostly is: ‘buy yourself a good portrait lens, that is a fixed focal length lens, 50 mm for a camera with crop sensor, 85 mm for a full frame camera. It’s cheap, it’s lightweight and small, you can shoot in low light conditions, because the big maximum aperture lets in a maximum amount of light, and it will allow you to work creatively with the shallow depth of field it can give you.’

The best value for money you get with a 50mm f1:1.8 lens, which will cost about 120 € in Canon and Nikon.

Some examples with my Canon 50 mm f1:1.4

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see you soon for more pictures!

Take care and happy shooting!
Ludwig