How I Got the Shot

Model and partner: Kelsey Hewitt

Let’s talk about how I got this shot.

I shot it using a Fujifilm GFX50S and GF 80mm ƒ/1.7 WR with a Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/8 halation filter, lit with a Godox V1 speedlight and the magnetic grid at 1/8 power.

The grid kept the strobe from spilling onto the wall and I opened the curtains for the window behind her to allow the morning light to hit the ceiling. I placed my camera on the floor, angled upward, lining up the natural light behind her head and balanced the flash to the room’s exposure with the lens wide open at ƒ/1.7. The Tiffen Black Pro Mist 1/8 adds a bit of halation to the natural light and gives her hair an aura while lightly softening the skin.

My exposure settings for this series was 1/125s, ISO 200, ƒ/1.7, with the Godox V1 bare with grid at 1/8 power, placed right behind me, on axis, raised to about 7ft high and 12ft away, angled downward. To get the proper exposure for the room, I raised the ISO one stop to allow Kelsey to flow-pose without the risk of motion blur.

Focusing is MF with back button AF-C. This allows me to backfocus just a hair to further soften the skin without post-processing.

The upward angle served 2 purposes: it slightly lengthens her legs (Instagram won’t allow the full length, 3:4 ratio shot) and, most importantly, frames her head in the natural light coming from the window in the background.

Post-processing: it’s all done by hand in Lightroom. I dodge and burn skin deviations using the brush tool, locally pull down contrast and texture slightly to reduce the prominence of pores and blemishes, touch up makeup and locally correct shadows and exposure. Next, I use the curves tool to chrome her skin before I pull down global exposure by a half stop. I then add a halo using an inverted radial tool and eraser with -80 edge, following her contours while reducing the exposure around her by a half stop. Finally, I add a hard, blurred vignette to increase depth and focus. My blurred vignette consists of an inverse radial tool at +80 edge with a full stop reduction in exposure, texture and clarity -100, noise +100 and sharpness -100 plus the standard vignette option set at -20.

I’ve learned to love all of the creative possibilities strobes provide but don’t ignore what nature hands you. I love this shot and series because of what I noticed and did to create it. This may not be a great photo but it’s a sign of my progression, and for that it will always be one I’ll never forget.

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