This summer was a whirlwind of creative chaos and beauty, seeing old friends back and meeting people in real life after collaborating many times and staying in touch on the internet. One of these people is the insanely talented Lillian Liu - who is a fellow photographer and creative mastermind based in Canada - who has been traveling almost yearly to Europe for a massive roadtrip. With one stop being my place here in Antwerp - our little tradition since the summer of 2015 when we got to meet for the first time.
The idea of this shoot was one of these impromptu, lightbulb moments of inspiration, which was after we went for breakfast on a lovely morning walk discussing our ideas. Lillian mentioned she needed to wash her hair before our sessions in the studio … and it took a second or so where I realised how gorgeous that concept could be with her ethnicity and her lush, dark hair. While I did know it could quickly become that-kinda-kitsch-shoot if I wasn’t careful, I knew that my new and current favorite light modifier from broncolor it would totally be possible and make it a piece of portraiture art.
In this set-up I only used two lights: first I had my broncolor Siros 800 L with a softlight reflector p with a diffuser on it; with the second light being a move 1200 L with a fresnel attachement (picolite) + a (light)blue colorgel added over it to give it a touch of color. For the entire series I barely changed my set-up but only moved Lillian around to see how the light changed and affected the overall visual and how it lit her face. I also played around with the strenght of both the Siros 800 and the Move 1200 L to experiment with it and see how they affected each other and the color.
For the “water” effect I used a simply waterspray bottle that I sprayed on her both before each shot and also during the session itself while capturing the frames at the same time - this gave a gorgeous shine effect on her skin that really got enhanced thanks to the fresnel and the softlight reflector; pulling out all those highlights - but also captured the “mist” when used during each session making it a much more lively shot. Because of the light set-up and the modifiers, it was an almost unlimited series of possibilities and with even the slightest turn of the broncolor move 1200 L. I tried adding a more focal setup with the fresnel being very focussed in “lightbeam” - but also completely open allowing it to spill all over the set; which also greatly changed how it all came together with minimal effort. The consistency of the Siros 800 L allowed me to play in on how the fresnel worked and keep my ISO at an absolute minimum of 100 while still delivering sharp photos and capturing all the details of the waterdrops on her skin & hair. It was also important for me that the image wouldn’t be completely washed, which was very easy thanks to the siros 800 L that even on it’s almost lowest setting gave a subtile hint of light that I needed to balance it out over the strong blue color.
The fun part of this editing was how experimental I could get with very little effort in raw. That’s what you get when using amazing equipment! While some of these edits seems heavy in post-processing; the most I did was playing around in the Adobe Raw converter with the white balance, split toning and the saturation/luminance with a lot of focus on the highlights and shadowplay. For the black/white set - I even had to focus just on the contrast, light and shadows and exposure. In photoshop I mainly did skin clean-up and removing small details like hair, with some dodge and burn to enhance the highlights even more as I found this one of the most important aspects of all the portraits.