Photo Shoot: Male Model Portfolio ‘On Location’

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: February 16, 2011

Category: General

I briefly mentioned a couple of posts back about a recent a day long Male Model Portfolio Shoot where I was working both out ‘on location’ and in the studio.

Well, for this post I thought I’d cover the ‘on location’ part of the shoot to not only give you an idea of what I was working on but to mention about how I changed my ‘shooting’ style.

First off let’s talk about the shoot…

As is always the case it takes me a good 15 minutes or so of shooting before I start to feel comfortable and get ‘into the groove’ so I started off taking what I guess could be called ‘throw away shots’ that served a purpose in helping both Richard and myself settle into things…

I was working alone on this shoot so it was just Richard and myself moving from location to location. There were the obvious challenges to this when it came to kit and the odd bit of high wind but with a little improvisation which I’ll explain about in a little while, we worked through it without any hiccups.

“Simple & Clean” was the order of the day for the images and to keep the lighting subtle. With this in mind the lighting couldn’t have been any simpler…One Nikon SB800 Speedlight and a couple of modifiers namely a 46″ Shoot-Thru Umbrella and a Honl Speed Grid.

I was also using the new Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5 to trigger the flash, and it’s this that I want to talk a bit more about. Those who know anything about me and my shooting style will know that I always shoot in Manual, and I do so because of the consistency in exposure that it gives from shot to shot. Now I can’t explain why this happened but for this entire shoot I changed everything and decided to shoot exclusively in Aperture Priority and TTL…

I simply chose an aperture which generally hovered around the f/4.0 and f/5.6 mark and got on with it. Changes in ambient light were made using exposure compensation on the camera and if I needed more or less light from the flash I just used the Flash Compensation on the SU800 Commander unit sat ontop of the Mini TT1.

Shooting this way was a whole new experience made possible by the new Pocket Wizard units but I have to say, hand on heart it was an extremely pleasant one. The kit worked faultlessly and being able to make all adjustments to the ambient and the flash power from camera meant I could work alot quicker and with fewer interruptions.

Being a whole new way of shooting for me, it felt odd not paying much that much attention to the shutter speed but having finished the shoot and then looked through the images in Lightroom the EXIF data was fascinating.

Shutter Speeds throughout the day varied from 1/60th of a second and  up to 1/1600th of a second; a speed before now unheard of when shooting with a DSLR and Speedlights but again, not one misfire and no unexpected exposure variances as we went from location to location.

The only downside of shooting with the Nikon SU800 in addition to the Pocket Wizard Mini TT1 ontop of the camera is the bulk, but it works really well. Needless to say though, when the Pocket Wizard AC3 unit becomes available in the next couple of weeks I’ll be adding that to the kit back to keep everything as compact and user friendly as possible.

Anyway back to the shoot…
Again, something different I hadn’t done this time was my usual visit to the area beforehand and meticulously planned locations where we would shoot; we just walked and talked and when we came across somewhere we liked we went for it, and if we felt it didn’t work we simply moved on.

Photographing in the street offers up all manner of creative possibilities, however one thing I’m paranoid about is members of the public knocking into, or worse still falling over some of my kit. With the culture of “Where there’s blame, there’s a claim” ever present I take extra care when putting down a light stand in the street and either won’t shoot until everyone has well and truly passed or if I do have an assistant with me, get them to stand right next to it.

Talking of light stands, when we were shooting on the bridge over the River Thames connecting Windsor with Eton (images below) a sudden gust of wind took hold of the shoot-thru umbrella and had it not been for the lightning speed reactions of Richard, along with a lighting stand, a Speedlight and a Flex TT5 it would have all ended up being lost at sea.

Generally I’ll carry sandbags with me to prevent such mishaps but as there was only the two of us and the shoot was very much ‘on the hoof’ I couldn’t bring them along.

Life Saving Tip #1
However all was not lost with a little improvisation using my Think Tank Airport Security Roller camera bag/case; an expensive sand bag granted but it worked a treat 🙂

The series of photos on the bridge saw the end of the ‘on location’ part of the shoot as we then packed up and made our way over to the studio.

I’ll cover the studio part of the shoot in another post as some of the images have had the ‘compositing’ treatment so I’ll also include some of the editing involved.

•    •    •

Having gone through this entire shoot without being in my usual comfort zone of ‘Manual’ it’s certainly given me food for thought. Now I’m certainly not thinking of changing my shooting style from this point, not at all, but what I like very much is being able to add this ‘style’ of shooting to the kit bag. Being able to use off camera flash with wide apertures and make all adjustments from the camera position was extremely handy and I’m sure contributed very much into making the shoot run as smoothly and as quickly as it did.

As usual if you do have any questions or comments or maybe just fancy leaving some feedback, then please feel free to make use of the comments section below.
Enjoy 🙂

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30 Comments

  1. Tim Skipper

    Hey Glyn, the pictures look great they really do, but can the dude smile? He’s almost smiling in the second one, but otherwise he looks like he will kick your tail.

    As to weighing down your stands with a bag, thats what I always do on location. I just put my camera bag on the base of the stand. Its sure is heavy enough and saves me from having to lug extra gear.

    I told some models last year, my favorite word for photography is adapt.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      lol…I promise you some smiles (kind of) from the studio part of this day shoot Tim 🙂 On a semi serious note though this was the kind of look we wanted, going down the ‘street’ photography feel. As for ‘kicking your tail’ you should have been in my position…I really thought he was going to…lol 🙂 Great guy though; a real gent and great to work with.

      Liking the ‘adapt’ mantra…definitely one that came in handy on this day that’s for sure; didn’t really fancy a dip in the River Thames 🙂

      Cheers for looking in mate.
      All the best to you,
      Glyn

      Reply
  2. Nat

    Hi Glyn
    Very nice shots indeed. Love the sarnie/newspaper one. Thanks for talking us through it all.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Nat…Thanks for that 🙂

      Reply
  3. Scot Baston

    Hi Glyn,

    It is always good to hear more about the flex range, I shoot with Canon but I believe they also have the same kit available.. Yet another thing to put on my wish list.

    You mention that shooting Av was a pleasant surprise, but could you also detail the downsides of shooting Av in your experience?

    Cheers

    Scot

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Scot…The thing about shooting in AV that I don’t like is that when taking a series of shots, a slight change on focus point can produce varying exposures being produced as opposed to Manual when an exposure is set no matter what.

      That being said, I didn’t experience that this time round so I think a little more looking into AV is called for.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  4. Ziggy

    LUSH!!!

    It’s even funnier when you see a Broncolor mobil light taking off on its stand with a shoot through umbrella acting as a sail (NOT).

    Great stuff. Love it. Can’t wait for the ‘Studio’ stuff.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Ziggy…Now that would have been an expensive sounding splash…lol 🙂

      Reply
  5. jewelzdezine

    Glyn, great shots! And finally someone shot a male model! All kidding aside, great locations. Thanks for sharing the process with us.

    Julie

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Julie…Thanks for stopping by and for the kind words; glad to ‘hear’ you like the results.

      All the best to you,
      Glyn

      Reply
  6. Simon Jacobs

    Nice pix Glyn. Working on your own is a pain sometimes. Yesterday I did 2 C-Stands, an Octa and a Strip Box and sandbags on my own!! 🙂 Arggghhh!
    Strangely I have gone Manual —>TTL and stuck with TTl for about 7 months. Yesterday for some reason I shot Manual again and remembered how lovely and consistent everything was. TTL is very cool, but can play up in a horrendous way sometimes…Horses for courses, both good for different reasons.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Simon…Absolutely mate. I guess certain shooting styles lend themselves to certain shoots as in this case it worked a treat.

      Lots more shooting to be done using this style to be 100% trustworthy so we’ll see. Of course with my big lights (Ranger) I’ll be shooting manual but with those heads that’s great fun…lol

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  7. claudio.von.grubens

    Hi glyn,

    great moody shots! it is always hard to get your client in the right inner mood! great work!

    cheers
    cvg

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Claudio…Cheers Buddy

      Reply
  8. Jim

    How did you get to 1600th of a second using triggers av and ettl. Reason I ask is I took some shots at 200th on my 7d and had that black band coming i’n. Down to 160 was fine though .

    I’m guessing hi speed sync, but does that make the ettl go nuts. I am just trying to figure out if I have a slow camera, not enough juice i’n the triggers or need to go back to cables. Thanks Glynn, keep up the blogs males for a great reading. Cheers mate!
    Jim

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Jim…Out of the box I’m getting sync speeds of up to 1/8000sec on High Speed/Hyper Sync with full flash exposure on sensor. I’ll dive into the settings and let you know what the PW’s are at.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  9. Tim Skipper

    Glyn

    I know what you mean about thinking he might try to kick yours. Last year I shot for a husband and wife body builder team. I kid you not his arms were bigger than my thighs.

    The whole time I’m thinking, if he doesn’t like this, he’s going to break me in half.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Tim…Going by that you obviously did a cracking job mate 🙂

      Reply
  10. Noel Hannan

    Hey Glyn,
    Great shots, very atmospheric and macho, full of drama. I recongize that sandwich shop! You must give me a demo on the ttl shooting,
    Thanks for sharing,
    Noel

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Noel…Ah yes the coffee shop; the very one we’ve partaken in the occasional sandwich and coffee at mate.

      Re the TTL, I’ll hopefully see you at the studio on Friday evening…we’ll geek about it then 🙂

      Cheers

      Reply
  11. DaveT

    Hi Glyn

    Nice set of shots-I too like the newspaper shot the best.

    Thanks for the tips re weighing down the stand.

    A couple more tips I heard of to weigh down your stand are

    a)Using a bungee cord and tent pegs (soft ground only)
    b)Using a strap with divers weights. The advantage here is that the weight pulls straight downwards so the stand is less likely to topple over.

    Dave

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Dave…Nice one mate, thanks for the divers belt tip 🙂

      Reply
  12. Bert Stephani

    Good job mate,

    I tried Av but I still feel more comfortable and faster in M. Take a look at the Manfrotto Nano stands, the legs can spread out flat on the floor. You’ll loose some hight but it’s much easier to put some improvised weight on.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Bert…Thanks for that mate.
      Re the Nano Light Stands after this ‘solo’ experience I’ll definitely be putting an order in for a couple of them; especially if it means avoiding diving into the River Thames after some kit 🙂

      I remember seeing you using them in your Motivational Light DVD (http://www.motivationallight.com/) and yeah having the legs go flat to the floor would be ideal for placing a camera bag across for even more stability.

      Thanks again and all the best to you,
      Glyn 🙂

      Reply
  13. David Kelly

    Hi Glyn,

    Really liking the cafe shoot as with others. Always good when a client can save the day for you and have lightning fast reactions 😉

    Regards,

    David

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David…Absolutely mate; was like the scene from Spiderman 1 when he catches the lunch tray 🙂

      Reply
  14. James H

    Good lord. I’m not sure why I’ve never thought to use my bag as ballast before, but that’s pretty brilliant for the days when you have to pack light. Thanks for the innovative tip!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @James…You’re welcome mate; this saved me on more than one occasion I can tell you 🙂

      Reply
  15. shahzad asad

    sweet2
    i like your photograph

    Reply
  16. Ramesh Awal

    hi glyn, like your pose, you looks great,so handsome . but no smile makes me sad.

    Reply

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