Cold, Wet, and Beautiful

Here are some images and a time lapse video of our underwater (and over-water) pregnancy shoot last night. Our beautiful mother-to-be, Heather, was so incredibly fun to work with and ready for just about anything. I've photographed Heather's wedding, portraits, and now her pregnancy. I am so looking forward to her new baby photos and to watching, and documenting, her family grow. 

I organized this session with the help of my friend Benjamin Edwards, who is my partner in our Lighting Notebook project. It's always inspiring for me to work with Ben and I believe it's valuable to both of us to have another creative person to bounce and share ideas with. I also had two awesome assistants: Alycia White and Cheryl McIntosh. They have been essential to my sanity in planning and organization and I am very grateful to have such motivated and creative people on my team.

We learned a lot on this shoot and I'll cover details of that in a little bit. There were a few key products that we used for the shoot. Although I planned for just about anything and everything, the shots we like best were actually made using the simplest lighting. The main items that made these particular shots were: 

  • High powered LED diving light by Intova (500 lumens)
  • Portable LED spotlight by Dorcy from Sears (500 lumens)
  • Ikelite waterproof housing for my Nikon D300s
  • OnOne software's DSLR Camera Remote HD software for iPad (beta version)
  • Lots of patience
We loved the look of the single spot light on Heather over the softer light we tried with light boxes and diffusion panels. For the first image, with Heather floating on the water, Ben held the Dive light while I operated the camera remotely (on a boom stand) from my iPad with the OneOn software. I passed all the images directly in to a hard drive on my laptop and used Lightroom so we could check them for lighting and exposure.

 

I really love this image! I'm thinking of calling it Moonlight. Heather looks like she's rising towards a little crescent of a moon with a wispy tail that makes me think of an elegant koi or a mermaid, or some other half-woman half-mythical creature. Use your imagination.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My assistant, Alycia, brought along a frame that she wanted to try in the shoot. Heather loved the idea and we got this lovely image.

 

This time-lapse movie condenses our 4 hr. shoot in to 60 seconds. Fun!

 

What did we learn? Plan for everything, but be ready to accept the simplest solution. Even though I had brought and planned for several complex lighting setups, as soon as we took our first test shot we saw the beautiful blue of the existing pool lights and knew that a warm daylight balanced flashlight would be a perfect complement and allow us to keep the existing blue light visible. This did make it a bit more challenging because of the slow shutter speed we had to use, but the results were so much more organic and dramatic. I've definitely come to learn over the years that a slightly soft image, with much more feeling is better than a technically perfect, crisp image that may be too sterile. I love movement and a painterly feel in my images - more impressionism than realism. I think these capture that feeling really well. I'm ready for my next underwater shoot!

 

 

 

 

The main lights used: Dorcy 500 Lumen LED spotlight from Sears and Intova 500 Lumen LED diving light. The Dorcy has a nice bright center spot with a less bright outer ring. The dive light has a big, wide, even center spot that falls quickly at the edges.