I recently had the chance to test the SD1(M) in an improvised photo shoot.
Through the couchsurfing community of Frankfurt I found out about a Make-Up photo shoot where the artists needed a photographer to cover their work. The shoot was for 3 artists with 3 girls being professionally styled.
I have to admit that I haven’t had a photo shoot where I was all by myself as a photographer but it was a great experience.
The young apprentices welcomed me and gave me enough time to set up the mobile studio.
I’ve used an inexpensive home studio kit from Interfit that fits nicely in a small travel bag. It contains a 50x50cm soft box, a white umbrella, 2 Flashlights including model light and wires for triggering. I also brought 3 cameras, 2 speedlights and my computer/laptop.
Fortunately they had a backdrop so I didn’t have to take care of that one. We decided for a white one and with that the setup was complete.
Whilst I was setting up the gear, the artists got to know their models and explained their ideas for the shoot.
– was a beauty shot, showing only the basic make-up to cover spots and small scars and to make sure that the face looks evenly from all angles
– was a free decision from each artists to get some colour on the face and to shape it and sharpen the contours
My idea for the shoot was to give artist and model the possibility to check the results immediately and to be able to make proper changes.
For this I used the tethered shooting option of the SD1(M).
Here the camera is being connected to the computer and as soon as an image has been taken, you can check it on the computer, manipulate and make sure that the composition is correct.
Because of the high data density in Sigmas files and the long time needed for developing the RAWs, you have to cheat a little (especially when using a laptop).
These things are suggestions when using tethered shooting:
1. you must use the RAW+JPG option regardless of the resolution you select to shoot
2. usb cord extension of between 2-5 meters
3. Adjust your image viewer (SPP or others) to just display JPEGs
4 Setting the capture pro software to save the images on both, card and a directory on your computer (saves time transferring huge files from one system to another)
5. Set up the camera before shooting (aperture between F8 and F11) when using a fixed position (for the first shoot, the girls were sitting on a chair) to make it easier to compose without having to play with the settings
6. Enjoy snapping away!
Because I already set up SPP to only display JPGs, only those were displayed and ideally this gives the artists the ability to have a full resolution preview of what to expect from the final result. This is an enormous speed gain over using RAWs to develop each image first and then being able to make adjustments. You could see strains of hair in the faces, you could study the focus and because of the good flashlights you could check if some touch ups on the make-up were needed.
So yeah, things went perfectly well.
Now some folks will probably say that the SD1(M) is too slow to work in a professional shoot, but this was not the case. Not even a bit. I never had to wait for anything. After 3 to 5 shots, we checked the results on the computer and in the meantime, the buffer could be emptied.
I could then continue shooting and the artists were following it on the laptop. Fun stuff!
How did it continue? Whilst I was working on the second model, the first Artist and her model prepared for the second shoot. The second girl was easier to work with though as she was much more relaxed, seemingly having done this kind of work before. Being relaxed and calm is very valuable in this field of work and not a lot of people are able to do it, unless they are professional models.
It is also important to talk with them, getting to know each other, taking away some fears and before late, the shoot is over after taking a few shots from the front, left and right with little tweaking.
For tweaking and playing around, it is important to bring references, either from yourself or out of magazines. I brought a few Vogue, InStyle and Glamour magazines with me to make it easier for me to explain how the models should pose.
So this and the next shoot for the beauty shot went in an easy fashion where I have to say that the last model, Gabriella, had an extremely calm and controlled way of posing that I could work with really well.
The second photo shoot was more layed out for colouring and shaping the face. Several details were supposed to be more pronounced to show the handwriting of an artist.
It is not really easy to make sure that both, artists and models, feel comfortable and not being put under stress. So we decided to get the stereo to sing along and get some jokes going.
After a few laughs we went on with part II.
Here I deliberately took the camera off the tripod and walked around the models to get different angles, different looks and different shades for the other make-up.
I could play with the light, and play around and, like in the first shoot, the camera didn’t disappoint.
Images were fast to be displayed on the laptop screen, adjustments could be made and working directly with the artists was a big plus.
Btw. don’t overdo the jokes as no matter how funny it might be, it is far worse when the girls start laughing tears and the make up needs to be done again.
After we finished each photo shoot, the artists, me and the models exchanged contact details. The artists chose their favorite shots, made a few requests for the editing and said their goodbye’s and thank you’s.
Now this is the time the real work starts for a photographer. As the shots of this photo shoot will have to be portfolio shots, they should look very professional and without many problematic parts in it. Also because of the SD1(M) bringing out every detail, you will have to soften a big junk of details out of the faces.
In the end however, this is what’s so much fun in working with digital photography.
It was great and I hope for another opportunity soon.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH GIRLS!