Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shoot what you like with a touch of ring flash.

The client that will give you the most creative yourself. I often shoot
things that I have got for myself (even if sometimes it means waiting before I wear/use them).
Well, they obviously inspired me, so. You will be pleasantly surprised how a client will then like
what you have shot and ask you for a similar look.

This time I picked these shoes from Above and Below, a small company in London that make unique sneakers. They are made of reused fabric from the London Tube and recycled leather. Pretty neat uh? Their website even has a soundtrack that is rather spot on.

So the shot: the scheme was fairly standard: gridded spot behind/above, side speedlite behind the shoes and on camera left (made sure that it did hit the logo), ring +softbox as fill. The color scheme was a play on the dominant colors: green and blue. I added layers of magenta (shadows) and yellow (highlights) to highlight them. As a final touch I dialed down the contrast on the highlights to give the image a bit of a 'film' look.

Now excuse me while I go on a walk...

Friday, September 23, 2011

At the Mima Mounds, where we lay our scene.

Photographers like to complain that a fun photo gig is hard to find and that and a client fun to work with is rare. But, this last June I got proof that fun shoots and clients do exist and sometimes come together! Two clients actually, who needed a portait, were not afraid to experiment, came with good ideas and a budget to do things right. Awesomeness. I had met with them a couple of weeks before. The theme of the portrait was 'Life is a Journey'. So I suggested to shoot at a location that had a feeling of remoteness to it (but was just a couple of hours drive from a large city) and to bring objects that where meaningful to them to the shoot. You can see my clients looking cool in this image, a shot of the set taken with the final lights set up. It shows the position of the assistant, whom I had to take out in post for the final shoot. He has to stay close to the subjects to make sure the light on them is soft.

The location is the Mima mounds, a little park South of Olympia, WA. It is a vast natural area with an almost geometric pattern (the mounds!) surrounded by tall trees. They frame the scene nicely, and I am a sucker for tall prairy grass. Moreover a path goes through the grass and allows easy movement of props and equipment. The team included me and two assistants. I decided to shoot with the 7' PL umbrella as fill next to camera and the softlighter as key to camera right. I wanted enough power to underexpose the sky 1.5 stops, so for a scene this big speedlights would not cut it. I love them because they are so portable, but sometimes one has to use the big guns! I used two Einstein heads, which did the job without flinching. The large softbox is well, very large and does not like the wind. So we rigged it to the ground with some ropes and tent stakes. As we had everything pretty much planned the whole shoot took just a couple hours. I used a different palette for the final image, but this one is a bit more eery and it works well for my portfolio. The lighting striking from the Softlighter is not coming from the Einstein head, it's a break in the clouds from which the Sun shone through for a few seconds. Sometimes a photographer gotta be fast.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Backstage Video! Courtesy of BossnotBoss

BossotBoss is a cool blog designed and built by Christopher Martin, Hamilton Boyce and the (oh so) dangerous Selena Goodwin.

BnB followed me on the 'Children's Songs' shoot and interviewed me on a desert island!
It was great fun (especially going around on the paddling boats). Here is the video that they recently posted.

Fabio Governato Interview from BossnotBoss on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Soft light on Jade for Veridis Clothier

I have been shooting for a male fashion client and for one of the shoots we hired a female model (who do you think is going to buy those shirts for him anyway? Right?). Enters Jade, who was super great to work with. My stylist Tiffany and I borrowed clothes from a local store, the excellent 'Veridis Clothier', an independent fashion store in Seattle. The location of this image is a great garage in Capitol Hill. Wood floors, large windows, completely empty but a free giant prop in the form of a vintage Ford truck? Perfect. Shot with a Canon speedlite mounted on a Softlighter at camera right. The image is a superposition of a colored layer and one closer to the original to preserve skin and clothes colors.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Iceland or Bust! A long walk on the Koljur Trail.

You can see a few more in this gallery.

I have been on a short trip to Iceland that included a few days backpacking in the Highlands.
It's pretty up there and I got a few pictures back.Reykjavik is small and lovely, although I got lucky with the weather me thinks....
I have been very impressed by the quality of the fashion/editorial photography there. The style
is a bit darker than in the US... I would love to work for small companies as Geysir, KronKron or 66North.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Children's Songs

Colin is finishing a collection of children songs and he asked me to shoot a few images of him together with his daughter Corinne. I had seen her wearing her giraffe PJ and I thought it would have made for a nice, quirky touch. We shot on a blustery day using a softlighter and an Alien Bees' Einstein head. F5.0. 20mm, 1/320th. When they started singing one of their songs...I realized Corinne is an excellent singer! The whole crew (2 assistants, two videographers, Corinne's mom, my friend Martin and his son Bruno), stopped in their tracks, only to sigh a collective 'awwww' at the end. I surely got a good image out of their performance!
It reminds me of the old movie "Paper Moon". The effect of the flash is very subtle, but that is how I wanted it.

You can see the rest of the set here, including another image of Martin and Bruno. This time the Softlighter is a lot closer and it overpowers the Sun. For an image of another man on pier shot with a Softlighter you may want to take a look at this backstage video.

Speaking of which, "Bossnotboss" was on set and filmed a few takes of the shoot. Excited to see how their video will come out!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ring Flash for fashion: Yokoo Scarves!

For this set I shot three scarves from Yokoo, a fancy knitter from Atlanta. Her great designs have been featured on the NYT. I wanted a look more sculpted than what is usually done for this kind of fashion (think Antrhopologie). The set up is the evolution from the one I had used recently for the Baby & Co. store: beauty dish high at camera left, strip behind model on camera right, gray background and flags.

This time I added a ring flash as fill. I did not need too much power (I was shooting at f5.6) and so I used the cheap ring flash modifier mounted on a 'on camera' Canon 580x II. The ring flash really defines the texture of the scarves.
The coloring was done in post and the shadow gradients in the background where enhanced in Lightroom using the gradient tool
(brightness and color, try it! It's at the top right, next to the brush in the 'develop' module). Models: Oralie, Jennifer and Amy. Make up and hair: Fiona Pepe

You can see the full set here

Monday, April 4, 2011

I have a new fancy website

Take a look at:

There are a lot of new (and old) pictures that I have never shown on line.

And just for you, my dear blog reader, here is a link to the 'product gallery' that is not otherwise visible from the main page.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Shooting for Baby & Co: Beauty Dish and Strip Light

I was given the opportunity to shoot for Baby & Co, a fashion store in Seattle that specializes in French couture from small, independent designers. The client wanted to highlight her Spring collection, themed as "Tea in the Moroccan desert". The store set up for the campaign is pretty neat and you should visit it if you happen to be in downtown Seattle.

I had a full team: three models, MUA+hair stylist and a fashion stylist. We had better get something good! Shooting in early March was the challenge....desert? Umm. And when the weather is not your friend a plan B is necessary. We set our outdoor shoot on a roof, the silver paint turns it into a giant softbox and gives a luminous, geometric setting. My studio is downstairs so if the weather wasn't cooperating a quick strategic retreat was possible.

And in fact our outdoor session was limited to ...20 minutes, abruptly stopped by a light snowfall. I still managed to get one good shot (taken with a Canon speedlite firing at full power+diffuser).

Once back in the studio the challenge was to give a "desert feel" to the images.
The light scheme is similar to what I had used a few weeks ago: a beauty dish high on camera left (heavily masked with aluminum foil to avoid spill onto the background). However, to add a feeling of strong sunlight, perhaps seen from a darker interior, I added a gridded, full body strip light behind the models on camera right. It separates body and hair from the background and, if aimed right, provides definition to the model face.

The post production is where the mood of the campaign is set: The pallet was designed to give a sense of ancient, dusty and mysterious, and so I used warm, but heavily desaturated colors. To each image I added a distressed background pattern, set as an 'overlay' layer with a 20% opacity, which I mostly erased in front of the models. It adds to the feeling of ancient times and somehow reminded me of some of the setting in the good old Indiana Jones movies. It's a technique that should not be overdone and that I have seen used a lot in fine art but I think works well in this setting.

You can see the full set, including the outdoor image here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The best camera is the one you have with you. Part 3: more iPhone Polaroids

This is the final set! From From left to right: a 'Polaroid' test shot for a Chanel bag, two doves (and a beehive just off camera) on the Milwaukee - Pacific railroad , breakfast at the Kingfish Cafe', and some rocky cliffs close to Ancient Lakes, WA. All images where edited with 'Camera Bag' and Lightroom.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The best camera is the one you have with you 2

This time I picked a few 'iPhone Polaroids' that show a few places I like. From top left and clockwise: My roof on a Winter morning, a sandstorm nearby Odessa, WA, an old German cemetery in Eastern WA and some window reflections over a Capitol Hill building on a lazy Summer evening.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The best camera is the one you have with you. Part I

I rarely carry a fancy camera with me, and I never shoot film...too heavy, I might break it, expensive, hard to find, images came out blurry/overexposed/shaky, have no idea if I got the shot, oh I forgot to focus, the film was not expired enough...So many excuses for a bad picture or worse, no picture at all. But I stumble into moments worth remembering almost every day! Plus sometimes I 'see' the image differently from what it actually looks in reality. I am not interested in capturing what is 'really' happening, nor I think that using film gives me a more legitimate description of what I witness. So what should I do? I often end up using my iPhone and the interpreting the image using a combination of phone apps (CameraBag, Plastic Bullett and Instagram) and postprocessing with Lightroom.

I enjoy the almost Zen simplicity of capturing a moment with a simple camera with a fixed wide angle lens and where the only controls are white balance and exposure. The post processing
allows me to create the final image as I saw it in my mind. I find the process liberating.

In this and the next two posts I will show a few examples of images taken with this approach.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Road: Outdoor shooting with the Softlighter

This shot is part of a small set of test images I have done using fashion from UK brand AllSaints. True to to their gritty/steampunk look I picked a Winter outdoor location on a nature reserve. The subject is designer Ian Obermuller, band member of Snowmanplan and creator of amazing animations. The dreary winter light we often have in the NorthWest made it easy to mix natural light with my flash. It was cold and windy and too keep things easy for my freezing assistant (hello Miss Van!) we shot with a simple, but trusted set up: Canon 580x II mounted inside a boomed Softlighter II with a gold insert. The flash fired at half power. ISO 100, 50mm, f4.5 1/200th sec. That gave me the cinematic look that I was looking for. What is our hero looking at?

The shot was then burned and dodged to bring out all the details of the scene in Photoshop 5. The color palette was created in Lightroom. To emphasize the dreary, post apocaliptic, 'this can't be good' look I emphasized the browns, greens and magentas.

You can see the full set on my website. The image has been picked by the fancy blog run by design pundit Chloe Scheffe.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What Art Directors want: AllSaints, Yokoo, bad boys, rich girls ...and Chanel.

I was recently having a conversation with a Seattle photo agent about things that commercial creative/art directors look for in a photography portfolio when they are hiring. This is the list we agreed on:

- shooting for your portfolio and so with a low low budget? Do not buy cheap things, borrow/return if necessary. Spend the money on a MUA/hairstylist (or trade if you can). Trade with local stores that have a web presence and require fresh images but do not have a budget specifically for that. They are also more innovative and will let you shoot the way you want it (try doing that with a paying client).

- shoot good quality/expensive items ...and make them look even more expensive.
Why? Because then you will get work for higher budget projects.

- do not shoot cute talent, shoot interesting/ethnic/publication worthy/expressive talent. I do not mind working with the same model a few times if he/she looks good on my images, especially for tests.

- do not shoot what is current now, but take a chance and try to predict what is going to be relevant in the near future in terms of looks, lighting schemes, palettes and topics. Scout on foreign magazines and websites and small photo/design publications for inspirations. If it's on Vogue or Lady Gaga says it's's already too late to be in your portfolio. I often ask designers for obscure sources of inspiration, they are good at that and have different eyes from those of a photographer, so they provide perspective.

So I wanted to shoot a portfolio image that summed up this conversation...

I like the fun challenge of location, but the weather is not great in February and it is good to brush up on the skills required for studio shoots, where everything has to be perfect and controlled (or at least fixable in post...ehm). To this I added the challenge of shooting at my studio,which is small and mostly designed for product shoots.

Ari (Filipino/Swedish heritage) is wearing a 'scowl' from Yokoo, an Atlanta based fashion designer who knits amazing pieces. Knitting is the new black...The oversized wool jacket is from All Saints (Now that the shoot is done I finally get to wear it) and the bag is a Chanel limited edition (borrowed from a large local store, thanks to 'Mr. Frederick'). I liked the idea of combining seemingly disparate styles into a common look/palette. The big topaz ring belonged to my grandma.

The lighting is simple: a flagged beauty dish powered by an Einstein 200w/sec, f16, ISO100 at camera left, soft fill light at -1.5 stops and a white board to the right. The postproduction uses different layers (high pass, paint daub and multiply....), to achieve a painterly look. Flagging was essential in a small space. Note to self: I need to get a grid for the BD.

What story does this image tell? Of a modern girl who can afford a classic bag, can mix it with a different style from a small, talented, up & coming independent designer to make it current and has a boyfriend with an urban sense of style from whom she just stole..borrowed a cozy wool jacket from a relatively new company, at least here in the States. It's a good story.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Last from the Desert

Jenny and Colin have been good friends of mine since forever. They were founding members of the very dearly missed Circus Contraption. When I asked them if they wanted to be part of my "Strange Characters in Strange Places" series they gladly said yes. The shoot was inspired by the graphics on Trader Joe's brown bags (yes, the old West guy with a spyglass). This was the last shoot of my desert trip. The image was taken at sunset on the cliffs overlooking the Columbia River, nearby Vantage, WA. It was, well, a bit windy. OK so windy that Corinne (who's three years old) could not stand up outside and had to patiently wait inside the truck for her parents to finish shooting. I was hoping to use my usual 2 softboxes set up, but with that weather..forget it. However, the white van provided the ideal large reflecting surface for a cranked up Alien Bees Einstein. Chloe "Flare Master" Scheffe bravely held a Speedlite as the key light on Jenny and we were done in 10 minutes of shooting. The final editing involved some digital color crossing, but I also used a skilled retoucher: enter Janko Williams, who made everything look the way it was meant to be. The props came from PJ Hummel marvel warehouse in Tacoma.

On to new things!