Boudoir in a cave?? What the...

While it might not be everyones cup of tea, we wanted to push ourselves to try something different - and hopefully make it beautiful. Some of you watched the recent episode of [FRAMED] that chronicled 3 of our photo shoots - one of which was us photographing a bride, on a trampoline, in a cave. When we did that shoot, we also tried some light painting on the bride, but really wanted to be able to spend more time on it, so we hoped we could plan another shoot to come back and work it - this time for a boudoir session. 

Of course, not everyone has a cave in their home town, but what DO you have that is unique? What can you use or do that nobody there has done? In Bend, we have these lava tube caves that go on for miles, sometimes. They are popular for hikers and explorers, so we scheduled our shoot for the middle of the work day so passerby traffic would be as light as possible. We only had one group come through while we were shooting and we laughed imagining they must be thinking we were holding some kind of sacrificial ceremony! (Disclaimer: no virgins were harmed in the making of this photograph).

Ben originally shared with me the idea of shooting in the caves, and I knew it could be an epic (if not challenging) location. The first image was done via light painting with flashlights. We used an L.E.D. diving light for the streaks of "lightning" coming from the throne. I put a Rogue FlashBender around the front of the light to create a snoot and funnel the light like a paintbrush. Ben walked around behind the throne, (which Alycia rounded up, along with the crown, at our local theatre company), aiming the flashlight towards camera to create the light streaks. 

I used another small flashlight in front to "paint" Suzanna as she fed herself grapes on the fur lined floor. I was careful NOT to aim my light toward camera so that it wouldn't streak like Ben's light. Both of the flashlights were covered with tungsten Sticky Filters (another one of my favorite photo accessories) to match the warm light of the many little candles scattered around. (Disclaimer: be careful when you play with fire)

Getting just the right exposure when you light paint takes some experimentation. I used a 30 second exposure and moved my flashlight over various parts of the scene during that time. It took us about 5 takes to get it just right. I shot with a Nikon 24mm F1.4 lens. The image, "Queen of the Universe" and the setup behind it are below:


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For the next shot, which we've dubbed, "Sleeping Beauty", I used a single Photoflex diffusion panel hovering above and just slightly behind Suzanna. I fired a Nikon speedlight through the top of it (also with a Sticky Filter warm gel) triggered by a PocketWizard wireless system. After the first take, the back of the cave was just a black hole. I wanted something to add more depth or texture back there. Ben came up with a great idea of putting a bare speedlight back there and when we saw the result we loved it! One of the cool things about the Nikon speedlights is the star-like pattern of the bare bulb when you aim it at the lens. It's quite different from the look of a monolight or studio flash. We use this quite a bit in our images as it looks cool and adds a great "twinkle". I felt it really completed the lighting, making the warm light wrapping her body feel like it was coming from a distant setting sun - or another planet ;-)


This time I used a shorter exposure, 1/25th second, to capture just enough of the candle light, but to keep the ambient darker and moody. I used the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens zoomed to 100mm.


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Both images were finished off with my Lightroom Presets and Dashboard Tools in Photoshop. I used my all-time favorite effect for boudoir, Lord Of The Rings, to soften her skin and add a gentle, romantic glow.


A big thank you to Suzanna for being such a trooper and lying there in a 44 degree cave in only a nightgown! Women really are much tougher than guys. I was complaining even with a jacket on!

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Love in a Laundromat: Engagement session

How do you make your everyday laundry facility look engaging? Add a lotta love! My goal here was a loose and playful lifestyle session, just like the dream first date - folding clothes together :-) Actually, the fact that the dude is actually doing the laundry probably does make it a dream date!

I used simple speedlights for this setup. I attached them all to PocketWizards to be able to easily sync the inside, and one outside, flash units. The outside one was hung from the awning just outside the window so that it would shine through like late afternoon sun. I placed another speedlight to my right, bouncing it in to the roof, but also directing some of it forward for front fill. The Rogue FlashBender was perfect for that as it creates a large white surface to bounce some of the upward-directed light forward. I used another speedlight to my left directed in to the ceiling for more even overhead light. I placed my fourth speedlight behind lovely Stephanie to rim light her, simulating light through that side window.

The key thing I wanted was to blow out (over-expose) the outside areas to hide the messy and distracting street. I wanted the whole image to feel bright and light. I set my exposure just to the point where the outside was glowing with overexposure, then adjusted my flashes to give me the proper exposure inside.

I processed the images in Lightroom and Photoshop using my Vintage Delish Presets and BorTex Borders and textures.


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9 Lights, Earplugs, & bird poop

How do you capture the energy of a hot young alternative rock band? Let them play loud music and scream! Ben and I setup this fun shot of Lyible, an up-and-coming band in Bend, OR. We found a loading dock location that was open on 2 sides to the street. I guess birds and geese like to hang out here because the floor was carpeted with very large feathered friend droppings. The guys didn't seem to mind. Our setup required 9 lights - one directed at each band member, a backlight for the singer, and a couple to highlight the gear and instruments.

We used the new Photoflex Triton flash units for the main light and instrument light. These things are amazing! They are super compact, battery powered, well made, and pack a lot of flash output. My power tests showed they have the same output as an AlienBee B800, but are much more compact. This is my favorite portable flash system to date. I especially l like the precise digital control of the power in 1/3 stop increments. The battery is a lithium type, which is very consistent and powerful with good "shelf-life", meaning it doesn't lose charge sitting on the shelf, like other batteries, so it's ready to go at a moments notice. The recycle time is surprisingly fast and the kit even comes with a softbox, wireless trigger system, AND an extra battery! 

I also used the Photoflex Starflash 300 units and my Nikon speedlights. I used Paul Buff portable battery packs for the Starflash units. All of this was triggered via both the Photoflex wireless triggers and my PocketWizards, since I didn't have enough of either system to trigger them all. Normally, I might have used the built-in slaves to trigger the other lights, but we had very focused beams of light on each musician so they didn't have enough spill light to trigger a visual flash slave on the other units. Speaking of beams, we used the Rogue Grid and Flashbenders to create snoots on the speedlights - directing the beams exactly where needed. The Flashbender system is really versatile, mounting to any speedlight and allowing for easy direction of the light exactly as needed.

I processed the final image in Photoshop using our Dashboard Tools and Texture package. The band was super cooperative and fun to work with...not what I expected from a rowdy rock-n-roll group ;-)


The setup with lights circled.


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