Making portraits in a subterranean parking garage is certainly atypical — but we were severely light challenged. As I mentioned in my last two posts, I was at Seaholm, last Thursday, for a Drink and Click. Libby, invited her friend Naili to the event, but we had a problem. The second Ice Light, which we used to light our subjects, was out of batteries. While the rest of the photographers shot Libby, I asked Naili if I can make some portraits.
A few quick shots around Seaholm proved ineffective — the ambient light was much too dim. The stairs leading underground gave us some ideas. The Seaholm parking garage was lit, not decently, but certainly preferable to the moody and shadowy topside. What started out as a few shots nears the stairs, turned in a full impromptu photoshoot. Quite coincidentally, the previous Impromptu Photoshoot with Andrea and Brendon was here at Seaholm, but that was during the day with access to ample light. This parking garage photoshoot with Naili was going to be a lot more challenging.
We ended up exploring multiple locations within the garage, seeking out decent sources of light as well as interesting backgrounds. Some of the darker areas had a different, more moodier feel, but for today, I feature the well-lit portraits. I ended up creating a lot of images and I’ll post more in the future.
As Naili and I ventured deeper into the garage, we found even lighting. Nothing like making portraits with natural (garage) lighting. While it would have been wonderful, we had no access to supplemental lighting. As you can imagine, garages aren’t known for full spectrum, high CRI lights — we took what we can get. These required more than the usual amount of post-processing, especially tweaking of the color balance. The slightly cool industrial look worked well with Naili’s off white dress with its simple minimalist style. I think the pipes and bare concrete, along with Naili’s dress, gives sort of a futuristic SciFi look.
What was most gratifying was the collaborative effort. We bounced ideas off of each other for locations and poses. Naili is just getting into modeling and I’m far from an experience portrait photographer, but together, I think we came up with interesting looks.
I played with extra post-processing to further sculpt the light and change the feel. Here, I darkened the surrounding and change the color temperature. Along with her expression, there is perhaps a bit more mystery in this image.
I had two cameras with me and I switch between them frequently. I used the 75mm f1.8 on the Olympus E-M5 II, for the lede photo, while the next three used the Olympus PEN-F with the Panasonic Leica 25mm f1.4.
On a whim, I tried out the Olympus super wide-angle, 9-18mm lens. Super wide-angles are not typically used for portraits, but I thought it looked interesting here, placing Naili towards the center to minimized distortion. And while all the other photos in this post were explicitly framed to hide the parking garage details, here you can tell that, yes, we did shoot these in a parking garage.
The 9-18 is a slow lens with an unimpressive aperture. I asked Naili to hold steady since I shot often at 1/10 to 1/15 of a second.
Here are two more super wide-angle images, shot at a 18mm equivalent. At our last stop, we discovered better lighting and a bold yellow stripe. That got us collaborating again to see how we can use this graphic element.
The garage was big enough that I was able to get a full length framing with the 75mm, which I used here. I had to back up quite a ways, though. Naili put on her black jacket to increase the contrast with the yellow and I like the symmetrical composition for a simple graphical look.
We experimented with my blue jacket, which we thought would contrast nicely against the yellow. I used the same symmetrical composition, shot with the 75mm.
The more conventional portrait is up top, blurring the background with my favorite micro 4/3 portrait lens. The 75mm is a challenge but produces nice results, even in a parking garage. An unusual but ultimately fun spot for this photoshoot. I liked how we worked together to creatively made these images.
Thank you, Naili.
Naili’s website: Naili Woelper.
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