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Monday, July 04, 2016

Sirens @ Temptations

So about a year ago I did a shoot with the Sirens, and it was such a gas. I've done a little shooting since with models I met that day, but it's tricky getting models to come out and play. Especially on a TFP basis, they're getting a free photographer, but I'm getting a free model, and the law of supply and demand says on the photographer side there is only supply.

Witness that the ten photographers this shoot was limited to were all there basically at 9:00 a.m. ready to shoot and the one model who was there with makeup, hair and wardrobe was Lenae, the organizer. At one point I looked across the room and saw a scene that I could describe as Snow White and the Seven Camera-Laden Dwarves.

But then they started trickling in and it was great to see some familiar faces. I shot some models who were new to me, Jessica and Pamela for instance, but I also got to shoot Tara Dactyl, Amanda, Lissette, and for different reasons I am totally in love with shooting them all.

The setting being a strip joint, well... The light was challenging. The areas where the light was better lacked air conditioning, so the choice was sweat it up and get some shots or be comfortable and blow most of them.

I was guilty, too, of over-thinking the setting at times. We had our run of basically two funky old buildings, and some of the rooms just seemed depressing rather than interesting or distressed. At least to be in, though I've seen some of the shots other photographers took there in settings I decided were sub-par, and I would have been fine shooting in those rooms because of course you're not showing the whole room in a photograph.

I think I've learned a lot since last summer's Sirens shoot. On that one I shot something like 2400 frames over a similar (maybe slightly longer) timespan, and several of the models I shot I didn't get a single shot that was worth taking: they'd have the focal point wrong resulting in bokeh where you wanted tack sharp focus, or they'd have a mouth in between expressions or speaking (it's fine for the model to talk, but lay off the shutter until she's done), or there was a troll I hadn't noticed in the viewfinder or whatever. I still shot a lot of pictures on this shoot, and they included some clunkers, but I did better at looking through the viewfinder and slowing down a bit.

The bigger problem on this shoot was working with the speed lights. Two SB-800s, I reasoned, was all the armament I'd need, but Temptations house lights are about like a Taliban hideout cave. Well, if the Taliban had black lights. I had an umbrella and reflectors, but it was still really challenging to get a well lit scene. Lacking radio triggers for the speed lights was an issue as well, though some of the other photographers there turned me on to Yongnuo's inexpensive ones so I'll be ready for next time. I'd have popped for Pocket Wizards if I had the spare cash to do so, but at a sixth the price I can hack that.

Some of the color cast issues, and the light falling away to a black background annoyed me, and of course I assumed that all the other photographers there were nailing it while I struggled. But since I've seen some of the other shooters' results, I think it was unavoidable. Even guys with enormous soft boxes plus multiple speed lights were getting much the same.

I did have fun with my Tokina 11-16 f2.8 ultra-wide lens. Tara Dactyl and Amanda are both amazingly leggy, and when I first got this lens and realized the way it exaggerated geometry, my first thought was...Tara Dactyl and Amanda!

I totally want to go shoot these women again. And these Sirens shoots are really a great deal for everyone involved. A model shows up and gets ten different photographers to work with over the course of the day, instant portfolio. A photographer shows up and gets to work with a half dozen or more different models, instant portfolio. And for less cash than you'd expect to pay to hire one model for an hour or two.

If I can figure out the costumes, I'd love to do a cosplay shoot with Amanda and Pamela as Morticia and Wednesday Addams.

And I didn't get much time with Jessica. That's the way it goes when there's more photographers than models, there were a couple of girls I didn't even get to shoot. Last year we doubled up some, but of course then there's a lot of overlap, so Lenae made it a ground rule for this year to try and avoid having more than one photographer shoot a given model & outfit. It wasn't strictly enforced of course, but it was a good idea in terms of generating portfolio material.

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