I never got around to posting about my last portrait shoot of the summer (and, as it would turn out, the year), since shortly after it happened I moved, got married, went to Iceland for two weeks, and then moved again. So here’s the belated report. I worked with April Christina, a fantastic model in Maryland, at a great location she found at Savage Mill, MD – an old textile mill that’s been converted into an upscale shopping mall. Next to the shopping mall, though, there is a stream with some old mill ruins that haven’t been taken down or turned into a tourist attraction or anything. They’re just sitting there – a perfect spot for photography.
For our first look we used the interior of the ruins and mostly natural light. The headline shot is all soft, diffuse natural light – it was a nice, cloudy day that was perfect for this sort of thing. The shot immediately above is taken within the ruins, so I needed a single speedlight at camera left to get the exposure right (ambient underexposed by a little less than a stop or so, if I’m remembering correctly). My light was completely unmodified and set to a moderate zoom. A similar shot that shows a bit more of the environment can be seen here.
We did a few looks in the ruins, but it wasn’t too long before a police officer noticed my flashes going off, came to investigate, and kicked us out. He was perfectly nice about it but noted that we were trespassing on private mall property. We would be allowed, he said, to shoot anywhere else on the mall, but the ruins were off limits. So we moved to this weird little courtyard outside the mall, April changed, and we used the semi-industrial windows as a new background. We did a bunch of variations of the above shot, lit simply with a single speedlight at camera left and a shoot-through umbrella.
Nearby were some neat rock formations, which we put to use as in the above shot. By this time it was pretty much totally dark outside; for the main light in this photo I had a speedlight at camera right zoomed to 85mm. A bit of an accent light comes from a speedlight at camera left gelled with a CTO, snooted, and aimed at April’s face.
Finally, for one last set of shots, April changed again, ruined her makeup, and went for a bit of a burned-out look. Some strange metallic structures supporting a deck made an appropriate background for this look. Again, this was a super simple lighting setup, just a single speedlight camera left with a shoot-through umbrella.
For the most part, at this shoot I let April do the hard work, and she really came through. My lighting schemes were simple and straightforward; I didn’t do anything fancy or particularly artsy. While I wish I’d come up with something a bit more creative, we still got some shots I’m happy with. I’d love another chance to shoot within those ruins; unfortunately, I’ve moved out of the area and apparently the ruins are supposed to be off-limits anyway. But if I do get another chance, I’d take it – there are some great elements to work with in there.