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Family photo shoot.

 

I was doing photography as a hobby for years. At first it was animals, birds and bugs. Later, people – family and friends. Like pregnancy photo shoot for a friend of mine, or the wedding of my brother, or images of the dresses I created. But I must be completely honest, I didn’t think much of it till I started a blog. This is when I discovered how exiting and challenging photography can be. I realized that all I was missing is a purpose for creating the image! Before I was just snapping the shot, now I started to think about creating the image. Trust me, they are two completely different things.

So as usual, my first serious photo shoot, after I decided to pursue a careers in photography, was for friends of ours. My theory in life is – if you do something, do it properly. So I realized that I can’t just pitch and shoot the pictures. If you want things to be done properly, you must plan first! And even if you plan everything, things still don’t go your way. But at least you feel calmer and better organized.

After all the research, location inspection, numerous postponements, finally the day arrived. And it had to rain the same day! Ah well, what can I do? Just make it work, I couldn’t postpone it any longer. So, after checking the weather on my iPhone, I just switched the plan. IPhone promised the rain at 2:00 in the afternoon. That meant that I had to do all of outside images first. Cloud cover provided soft, diffused light, so no problems anymore with harsh midday sunlight. Believe it or not, my iPhone was spot on, exactly at 2:00 it started to rain and we moved indoors.

When photo shoot was over. I was very happy with the outcome. I knew I got what I wanted and was excited to download and start editing the images. My camera of choice is Canon 5DS. It is full frame, 50MP camera. To save the space on the flash and my computer, it is set on medium raw file size. And I still managed to fill up two 32Gb flash cards. The first card had all of the outside images on it and I was particularly interested to see these shots. Can you imagine my horror when, after returning back home, I couldn’t find that card??? I looked everywhere, nothing! I phoned the friends, nothing. I knew exactly when, how and where I put it and nothing. I couldn’t believe it! Cut the long story short, I had enough of the images from the indoor session. And I have learned the lesson the hard way… But, a couple of weeks later, I picked up my 70-200 lens to use. And to my amazement, I discovered that exact flash card being stuck between the lens and a hood. I was the happiest girl out there! And the lesson is learned… Make sure that you pack everything properly and in its place.
Regardless of a near disaster, the photo shoot was an amazing experience! My subjects were great, and I have got plenty of lovely images. I am discovering that I am enjoying photographing people, and who would have thought that I am able to work well with kids! By the way, our friend’s little daughter was absolutely adorable.

Pretty in stripes.




    

This is my first post using WordPress app and all of the photos was taken by my IPhone 5s and edited in Afterlight app.

Usually I bring my Canon 5DS with me everywear. But this time I decided to read the books instead of snapping away. And as usual, the inspiration did come when I had nothing with me. But it’s fine, the marvels of technology are so helpful!

We are on hollyday in our beautiful Knysna. And I had to visit my favorite shops. I mentioned them in  the blogpost Shopping in Knysna. One of the self-spoils was a white crinkled top and strypy wide-legged pants from “Two on toast”.

This outfit is a departure from my usual style. And I love it. That’s why I had to do mini photo shoot by my favorite mirror in our holiday home. It was a challenge to work with the phone and to get an angles I wanted. But nothing gets your more creative then restrictions.

The mirror reflection is balancing brilliantly the repetitive nature of the stripes on the pants. And I purposely didn’t aligned everything perfectly symmetrical. To perfect can be boring.  And the main challenge was to hide the iPhone, because whenever it was a best angle, the iPhone was visible! Can be very frustrating. In any case, here are my favorite shots.

At the and of the day, it was more difficult to get what I wanted without heaving proper gear. But the bottom line is – nothing is impossible when you are in the mood ;-D.

Light and Shade. Black and Gold.

I was preparing the outfits for my previous blog post Mixing and matching metallics: Rose Gold, Holographic, Gold. I needed a gold top. And it was not a big deal; all I did is quickly draped and sewn a gold sequins top. But when I was looking through my fabrics for the one that will suit the best; I come across golden pleated one. As soon as I finished with top, I pinned the pleated fabric to the mannequin and started draping. I wanted something easy, flowy and something that will elevate the fabric itself and make it look more expensive. Couple of days later the dress was ready.

Immediately I was thinking about dark moody photo shoot. The dress was the star of the show. I had one problem: I didn’t have the correct light modifier for the light to be the way I wanted. And I have spent already my monthly budget for photography gear on the backdrop and couple of other things. But no way will I wait for the next month. Plus I got plenty of other things I need too. So the answer was to get handy. And believe it or not, I created my own long narrow soft box.

And by the way, if you want to know how I made the soft box and what materials I used, just subscribe to my newsletter. I highly recommend it, because only the guys and girls who subscribed will get to know how the magic happens. And trust me, I guaranty- I won’t be sending you emails all the time and clutter you mail box. I am myself dead against it.

Anyway, back to photo shoot. That day my plan was to test if my homemade soft box is working. To my delight, it worked perfectly. So I couldn’t resist seeing how the dress will look. Cut the long story short, I had my photo shoot. I ended up going for all natural look, with slightly refreshed make up.

I am a big fan of action shots. It is challenging when you are photographer and model at the same time. But without going in to technicalities it is possible, even with “slow-ish” strobes. What I mean is: to freeze the motion the speed of the studio strobe must be above 1/2000. My Elinchrom bx500ri just don’t do it well enough. But it’s ok for now, if I time the jump and get the shot at the point when I hang in the air, the image comes out petty ok.

All it is left now is to find an occasion to wear my petty easy-peasy dress.

Mixing and matching metallics: Rose Gold, Holographic, Gold.

It is very interesting, but from my observation, the fashion now is like a blind and confused creature that is walking the circles and keeps on bumping in the same walls. Fallowing the trends is becoming absurd, it is the same things over and over again, maybe slightly changed. And I must say I don’t complain about it, I love it! Because, I can store away some items for a while; and pull them out when they are relevant again. One of reacquiring trends is metallics. And I must confess – I am absolutely obsessed with everything that shines. I love everything shiny and sparkly. I believe it was influenced by all of the Indian movies we use to watch when we were kids. During soviet times in Moldova, all you could see in rural cinema was Indian and Russian movies. And we loved Indian movies, they was so colourful and full of gold and embellishments.

So like you can imagine, I have a lot of sparkly and shiny clothing and accessories in my wardrobe. Even thou I am not wearing it most of the time. One of my favourites is a pair of rose gold skinny jeans from Guess.  And I thought it will be interesting to mix rose gold with other two of my favourite metalliks – holographic and gold. Honestly, if you ask me what my favourite colours are, they will be: Rose Gold, Holographic and Gold.

For the photo shoot I used my newly assembled studio. The space was there all the time, and finally I can use it. 😀 Like usual, all of the production is me, for now… I am blessed when it comes to camera equipment. I have variety of camera bodies from Canon and even Hasselblad 40D, it is my fiancés and I can use it. But that will happen when I am ONLY behind the lens. When it comes to the studio equipment, it is pretty basic for now, but I am building on it. Slowly ketch the monkey! 😀 And from my previous experience I learned very valuable lesson: after reading all of the books, you thing you need everything and now, it is not true; start with basics and slowly add on as need arises. Otherwise you will waste your money on bunch of stuff that you don’t need, or wrong quality.

I hope you enjoy what you see and it gives you some ideas. And If you want more to know about behind the scenes and equipment and tricks and techniques I have used in this and other photo shoots, make sure that you sign up for my newsletter. I can guaranty, I won’t clatter your mailbox, I hate it myself!

Almost forgot, I had to improvise for the Gold look. I needed something as a top of course, but couldn’t find anything suitable. That’s why I quickly draped and hand sewn sequin top.

Moral of the story: If you can do it all, do it! But hope that one day you won’t have to! ;-D

Milk photography. My experience.

Milky photo shoot

Milky photo shoot

Milky photo shoot

Milk Photography

Milk Photography

 

I was looking on Pinterest for inspiration and came across milk photography. Basically the photos are taken in the bathtub filled with milky water. Some of those images were really spectacular. There was something mystical and ethereal about them. So I decided to try it out and see what will come out of it.

Naturally when you think about bathtub with milk water, it means you add milk to the water. But to be safe I decided to do some home work. I read that you add a milk powder blah-blah-blah, also add some starch to make water more opaque. All of it is bull. All you need is a bath full of comfortably warm water and long life low fat milk. It does not have smell and you add milk till you are happy with the colour. The milk powder takes forever to dissolve. The starch just sinks to the bottom, and there is the chance that you can block the pipes.

The biggest challenge was to photograph. And it’s because I was a photographer and a model. Off course my shutter remote was helping me and by the way it was wrapped in to two zip lock bags for safety. The camera was on auto-focus, and this is where it got tricky. In other photo shoots I was shooting full body shot of myself, and the focusing wasn’t a big deal. The small aperture around f 11 and the distance helped to keep everything in focus. But now my aperture was f 5,6 and the distance was very close, plus the angle of the camera. I thought it is all fine, till I realized that the camera was focusing on the tap or on my neck. So I narrowed focusing field and made sure that my face in correct spot.

By the way, believe me, especially when you photographing you self, there is no way that there will be none of unwanted objects in the shot. The easiest way to deal with it is to remove it all in Photoshop.

All of the colour correction was done in Capture One Pro 9 trial software. Must say I am impressed, but unfortunately it can’t replace Photoshop for more advance retouching.

And by the way, the makeup was extremely simple. I just applied Essence Colour Art eye base all over my face, neck and shoulders. Then I brushed all over the Essence Pigments louse glittery shadow in 11 Cotton Candy. And I highlighted my eyes with Mac creamy eyeliner and Chanel mascara. I made my hare wet before applying the makeup and then slicked it down with Shin Wax.

To make the photographs more fashion I played around with the brooch.

P.S.: If you want to find out what camera and what gear I used for this photo shoot and see before and after images; sign up for Oxygem World news letter.

Sopping in Knysna. My top 3 boutiques.

Knysna Heads. View from the Leisure Island.
Knysna Heads. View from the Leisure Island.

Knysna was our holyday destination for years. It is a beautiful costal town in South Africa; it’s in about six hours drive from Cape Town. It is blessed with stunning views and worm Indian Ocean waters (huge plus in comparison to the freezing ocean in Cape Town). Because of its unique geography, Knysna reminds me of the pearl in the shell: the rolling green hills are surrounding the Knysna Lagoon and in the middle of lagoon are two islands: Leisure Island and Thesens Island. The only access to the see are The Heads – narrow and pretty shallow opening to the ocean. Because of the shallowness and narrowness of this channel, if the weather is raff and the tide is wrong, the see vessels cannot get in or out. But the roaring breaking waves do makes the great spectacle! And you can admire it from one of the two café-restaurants, right near it.

The amount of activities you can do in and around Knysna is huge! From whale watching and sunset cruise on the yacht, to bungee jumping and tree tops gliding; from admiring exotic birds in Birds of Eden to walking with elephants in Elephant Sanctuary. This makes Knysna very popular tourist spot. And plus, it is summer in South Africa when it’s freezing winter in Northern Hemisphere. The cheap South African currency adds to the “value for the money” factor. I even heard the term “Swallows” from the locals. They call “Swallows” the people from Europe, who bought holyday homes in Knysna, and are living there during summer period. I see the tourists in Knysna all year around.

Thesen Island, Thesen Harbour Town.
Thesen Island, Thesen Harbour Town.

Knysna changed dramatically in recent years. It was a sleepy little town then and now it is a trendy holyday spot. I love it! And what very important for us girls – the shopping is so much better! I thought I will be able to cover it all in one blog post; little did I know! That’s why there will be a lot more, than just one blog post, on my beloved Knysna. And in this – first post, I will name my top three boutiques which any fashionable girl must visit. And here they are:

  1. On the Thesen Island there are quite a few trendy and not so boutiques. My favourite is – “Diana Loon”. Why? Because she has a great taste in picking cool modern pieces from local South African designers. And the prices are amazing! I got there a hat, a black mesh dress, couple of colourful gym pants and cool pearl earrings. I will feature all of them in my future outfit posts.
Diana Loon. Thesen Island.
Diana Loon. Thesen Island.

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2       “Two on Toast”. This one is located in town, in the Rex building across the Water Front. Why? Not surprising,               it also stocks local talents and its own brand by the same name. They also have a great selection of really cool               and cute jewellery. And tonnes of other unexpected stuff. It is like treasure chest.

 

Two on Toast
Two on Toast

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3      “AKLD” – Aldo Kleyn Leather Designs. This one is also on the Thesen Island, on the same street with “Diana               Loon” boutique. Why? It is a leather shop and you can find there an amazing leather bags, accessories and cool           boots. For this one I will have to budget, leather is not chip. But if compared, the prices are not bad. The                         stunning red clutch, made out of the sting ray leather, is about 180 USD.

 

AKLD leather boutique.
AKLD leather boutique.

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What I like the most about Knysna boutiques – they stock unique limited edition designs. And they stock is very eclectic; you can find the most unexpected items next to each other. To me it makes the shopping experience more like adventure; you never know what you will find. Exiting!