Photoshoot in Cairns

It was absolutely fantastic working in Cairns with the makeup artist, doubling as a model, Leonie Ballantine. You can find her on Model Mayhem as a MUA, and Model.

Originally, the idea for the shoot was a shot of her walking towards the water and stripping off articles of clothing and leaving them behind. The composition in my mind was vertical, with the moon lighting her from the front, with the viewer looking on from directly behind her. As you can see from the resultant shots, that's not what we ended up with:


Often, the shoots I aim for turn out slightly, or completely, different than how I envisioned them. This has always been the case for me in everything that I do. Most of the time my ideas don't work out, but the images they spawn end up being quite surprising.


I originally wanted the shoot to be an implied nudity shot; clothes on the ground behind a silhouetted, naked model entering the water. Tasteful nudity is difficult to accomplish in photographs. At the risk of producing something distasteful, I limit myself to doing implied nudity (where parts are obscured by shadow, or blocked by limb or angle). While that was the aim for this shoot, I ended up with all clothed pictures. The factors that played into this decision were the beach's composition, jellyfish in the sea, and crocs in the river. I couldn't ask her to jump in, she and my trusty assistant for the evening, Gary, brought the proper distance from the water's edge to my attention.

Here is one of the best of my failed shots that shows the croc-infested river. This is at the beginning of the shoot and I was still trying to handhold the 135mm f/2 at night. I was still trying to make it work with a bit of flashlight fill bounced off the sand, but the moon was only half full and didn't provide enough light, I broke down and had to use the tripod... still shooting at ISO 6400 - 12800 because: D3s.  


For a while, I kept shooting with the 135 because I wanted that full body / shallow depth of field, as well as subject compression. I brought the 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.4, and 135mm f/2 for the shoot and used the most typical of the three for the first three quarters of the shoot. These are the ones that I kept trying to get to complete my vision of a skinny-dipping model. 


Walk this way...


Turn that way...


Twist this way...

Sarong on, sarong off, top on, top off, and it kept going on and on. I kept beating that dead horse. I got a few that I think are nice, and they're displayed here, but you can see that I was struggling to put some life in the image. Leonie was wonderful, putting up with this idiot who kept trying the same thing over and over. 

I was trying to shoot into the city for some light pollution that really doesn't show up all that much. I wanted the C curve of the beach... and had the spotty clouds been on that side, it probably would've looked better, and been really effective, but this is what I had.

I'm horrible with posing/directing my models. The best thing I can say is "get comfy, this is going to take a while" just so they can pose themselves without my direction, and if they get in a comfy position, it shows through in the photograph. So, I guess these 135mm shots were great for stretching my 'model-directing' skills, but overall they have no zing to them. 


Now: Enter the first unedited test shot after I finally switched lenses and direction.


Wow! Holy smokes! I know, I know, the actual picture is horrible, it's here for edumacational purposes, but look at all that potential! Look at all those clouds. 

Leonie is a beautiful model, and if that's all I wanted to show, I would've had her in a studio setup, but I really enjoy the life environmental shots bring to photographs. This is what I'm talking about!

If you ask her, she'll probably recall that I got really excited and started jumping around like a little kid. I ran over and showed her some more of the shots with the clouds in the background and I knew that this was the point in the shoot (something similar happens in most of my shoots) where the magic was really going to happen. 


Again, the original aim was for implied nudity, but I preferred the clothed shots much more than the topless ones we tried. The model and scene just came together as they were, perhaps another photographer could've made the nudity happen in a tasteful way, but not me in this point of my photographic progression.

The one shot from this shoot that I would have for myself is either the first or last shot on this blog entry. The other's are just barely salvageable so that I won't embarrass myself, and the model won't go home with just one shot (after a few hours of shooting, giving her one image would just make me feel like a dick). 

If that last shot had the moon rimlighting her as it is in the first one, it'd be ideal. Her head is tilted ever so awesomely in the last photograph, and you can see her jawline and neck have an ever-so-subtle intensity to them. In the end, a beautiful model and beautiful scene are paired wonderfully in the same photograph.

Errant thoughts:

The footprints and scuffings in the sand are horrible, and I should've had her move to a cleaner spot, but that's what we have, so shut up about them ^_^

And a wonderful comment that makes me glad to collaborate with fantastic people:

"Thank you for reminding me why I enjoy working with creative photographers like yourself. I had heaps of fun & am very happy with the images you have given me. If we are ever in each others neighbourhood in the future, I'd love the opportunity to work with you again."

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