1) Experiment on Yourself
My journey to this particular session began with a self-portrait challenge. I challenged myself to experiment with low-light, indoor, self-portraits, and I also wanted to see how well my camera (Canon 6D) dealt with low-light situations. My original inspiration for starting this challenge was because of my recent photographer crush, Candice Zugich of The Blissful Maven. (I'm seriously crushing on her photography style right now.) So, I set up the tripod and interval timer and was really pleased with what I got and was very happy with the fine art feel they all had. They were processed into black and white, with deep shadows, that brought out a contemplative & mysterious moodiness that I love.
2) Repeat the Experiment on a Friend
Next, I decided to try the same approach with a friend who was willing to sit in front of my camera and let me try to capture my vision. We texted a few days before the shoot and talked about what type of clothing for him to bring/wear, etc. I knew I wanted him to wear a white button up with a pair of suspenders that I knew he owned. I was really lucky he has his own sense of style because he ended up bringing a few different options. Button up with suspenders, button up with a tie, plain black tee shirt, plain dark jeans and a suit jacket.
3) Use a Garage!
There was one thing that needed to be different with this session however. My self-portraits were taken in my bedroom, so for this shoot I felt like I needed a less personal space in which to photograph. I began brainstorming alternatives. Then, I remembered I had read articles that raved about garage light (and also seen The Blissful Maven using the same setup). Ding, ding, ding! That was my light bulb moment and I decided to take these in the garage.
4) Use sheets as backdrops and light diffusers
Now, I had no idea if this would work or not but I decided to go for it anyway. I grabbed a white sheet I already owned as a light diffuser to cover the garage opening (it covered half of the garage door opening) and bought an inexpensive black sheet to use as a backdrop. (No one wants to see the shovel I use to scoop my dog's poop from the backyard.) ;-)
Here is a photo of what it looked like during the shoot.
5) Look for Interesting Patterns, Shapes, Lines, & Textures
In hindsight, I believe there were many things that came together beautifully to make this session amazing for me - textures created by my friend's facial hair, tattoos, glasses and scar to the grit and dirt on the garage floor; the interesting shapes created by the deep shadows; a sense of movement created by the smoke. This session has all the adjectives I really want to evoke in my fine art imagery; captivating, compelling, moving, mysterious, and moody.
Behind The Scenes Gear
And because I believe in every word of Ben Sasso’s, Photographer’s Manifesto, I feel it’s important for me to end this post with information on some of the “behind the scenes” gear and camera settings, just in case this information helps another photographer explore, learn, and grow in their photography passion.
Camera: Canon EOS 6D
Lense(s): For this session I anticipated using my EF 50mm f/1.4. However, I actually ended up primarily using my EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6.
Settings: For most of these images my camera settings when using the 50mm stayed around 1/200 to 1/500 shutter speed, f/2.2 and ISO at 400 – 800. When using the 28-135mm, settings varied between 1/250 at 5/5.6 and 1/125 at f/4.5 down to even 1/100 at f/5. Because it was so bright at times I brought ISO down whenever I could to try to reduce grain. So ISO also varied between 160 – 1600.
Environment: This session was shot completely with available light from the garage door being open. I turned off any other lights and only used the garage door light. My next experiment however, is to play around with flash lighting.