What does it take to take a photograph like this? In our case, it took one really brave and beautiful girl (Laura), two photographers and one warmer/focuser (Laura’s boyfriend Petteri who hugged Laura every time she was getting too cold and who also pointed led light at Laura when we were trying to focus on her in the dark), two flashes, lot of tries and quite a bit of luck with the weather!
If you want to try this, you really want to prepare well. The temperature was quite cold and the grass quite wet, so wear boots and warm layers. You can’t actually see it in these pictures but Laura also had boots on her, but that obviously didn’t do the job in keeping her warm. She’s a pro model in that way, she can really stand discomfort if that’s what it takes to get good results.
We went to the field approximatedly at 3 am. The light changes dramatically when the sunrise starts, so we wanted to prepare the shoot well and arrange our equipment so we wouldn’t miss the grand start of the day.
We had a flashgun behind Laura and a flash with an umbrella on the front of her. At first the pictures were just plain dark, so I changed to longer exposure (the image at the top with Laura blowing foggy air). The challenge with LE + flash combination is that the person turns transparent. Here you can see through Laura, and I have even corrected the picture. In this case it suits the idea as Laura could be a ghost wandering in the fields, but if this was a shoot for some magazine the transparency would be a hazard.
We tried to correct the effect by asking Laura to stand still, but that turned out to be even more complicated setup. Her face would become blurry or distorted. So after freezing her appearance with flash she had to move away from the picture.
The original idea was to take shots in the mist. As the night leaned forward we finally did get some mist in the field for a short period. As the mist started to form we faced another problem. The mist went right through Laura as it’s lighter than most of the parts of the image. (see below)
Yikes! Not so flattering, huh? Sliced by mist and as a top on the iceberg Laura has a tripod inside her. This problem occurred on the previous image with the mist too. Only photoshop could save the image, and to be honest I think the only thing you can do in that kind of surrounding is to not place Laura in front of white/bright subjects.
After this we took the umbrella from the flash and gave it to Laura. That’s when things finally started to roll!
The umbrella reflected enough light on Laura’s face and the flash behind her also lit up the mosquitos making them look like pixies. Shooting from low perspective (pictures below) gave the images a bit more space and atmosphere. I think Laura looks like she’s about to fly away to the skies with her umbrella.
When we arrived at this point of the shoot, sun finally started to rise, giving the sky some vibrant new tones. These photos didn’t need any post-processing.
The official warmer doing his job!
Hope you enjoyed this tutorial!