James Moxley Nanaimo Photographer Vancouver Island

Natural Light Photo Shoot with Christina

August 2, 2015

Christina was one of the very first people I ever did a photo shoot with, it was great that she got in contact about doing a shoot before she moved, I figured it would be cool to see where we both were at.  

Recently I have been doing a lot of strobe work, bringing my gear with me to each shoot to light it. I thought if I could challenge myself, I could learn a bit more, so I decided to leave the strobe lights in the car and just work with the natural light, before I did the shoot I read a great article by John Schell, and sent him a quick message so I couldn't back out. Christina picked the location, it's a set of stairs in Parksville that lead down to the beach. The shoot was scheduled for 5:00, I usually shoot the last hour of light so I was a bit anxious. My game plan was to find open shade, with open shade you get to avoid harsh shadows cast by the sun directly over head. Some times  the shade can lead to flat dull looking pictures so my second goal was getting great catch lights in the models eyes. 


On a previous shoot at the beginning of the year I wanted to shoot to like Dani Diamond, slightly under exposing the image, then in post production dodging the areas which needed more light. The problem I find with this method is that when recovering shadows it introduces noise, and it's certainly time consuming as so much is done in post. 

I had heard on a podcast its actually better to expose the right,  to slightly over expose the image, however if you expose it too far to the right information will be lost in the highlights. So for the shoot I was constantly watching the metering in my camera, I always shoot in matrix metering mode and instead of aperture priority I was in manual. So for those who don't know what I shoot with, I use a Nikon D600 camera, with an 85mm 1.8 lens and a 50mm 1.8 lens. I actually bought the camera just so I could get the 85mm, the 85mm was made famous by Dani Diamond, I am sure there are lots of photographers before him to use it, but certainly gave his images a certain look which I love. The other lens, my 50mm is the first lens and by far my most used lens when I was shooting with my first DSLR the Nikon D5100, when I went from crop sensor to full frame using the 50mm I had that ah ha moment.

Anyways back to the shoot, I had actually printed off a pinterest board of images I liked of different poses, this certainly helped the shoot. My biggest struggle is getting images that don't look too posed, so that they look natural. Chris Lambeth gave me some great advice, he said simply talk to the person, let them get comfortable, ask them questions, talk to them as you would with any other person. When I shoot I also think of Peter Hurley, and his infamous line "You look miserable", which usually the model will laugh at or not, I can't say I've had the balls to say it. I find now I try not to talk so much about the technical details of the shoot, and just trying to come up with small talk, to capture an expression. Here are a few photos from the shoot, you can see more on Flickr here and here.



Here is a photo from one our very first shoots together from  September 2013

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Great shots!

Dani is good but I know what you mean about noise when underexposing.

I think I´ll try to overexpose slightly. Then make a virtual copy in lightroom. Bring this version to the moody Dani style exposure. Then open them in photoshop with the dark version on top layer. Mask and paint in the light from the layer under. Should be almost noise-free.

I'll test it out.