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Coco: City Socialite

Party Girl Coco is chained up in her elegant city apartment, ready to fulfil your every sordid whim!

Hywel's note: Firstly, please welcome the gorgeous (and in person very funny and chatty) Coco to Restrained Elegance! I'd been wanting to shoot with her for a while, and the apartment we hired in Birmingham was a lot quicker for her to get to than our house is, so it was an ideal opportunity.

This is a visual idea I've been wanting to shoot for ages- literally years. A girl in an elegant dress chained up in front of big windows with a view out onto out-of-focus night-time city scape, with the points of light behind her turning into great big bokehlicious circles. The thing was I'd never really figured out how to light it, especially shooting with the Hasselblad which is as light-sensitive as a person wearing glacier goggles in the dark.

I figured the only way I'd be able to do it with the Hasselblad would be to shoot on a tripod, use flash to light the girl, and use a long shutter speed to make the background lights record. I *hate* shooting on a tripod. I hate shooting on a tripod for landscapes, and I double hate it with a cherry on top for shooting tied up girls where time is a definite factor. So I'd put it off and put it off.

The new Sony (which you are doubtless already sick of hearing about) is a great complement to the Hasselblad because it is good in low light. I'd finally managed to get hold of a fast portrait lens for it (the Zeiss one had been on back order for months, the new Sony 85 mm f/1.4 GM came out a year later but was on the shelves sooner). So I cancelled my pre-order for the Zeiss, and took delivery of the Sony. Cony claim this lens to be a bokeh monster, so I set out to test the theory. I lit the set with available light, plus a speedlight on minimum power shot through a white umbrella on a table to provide some catchlights in Coco's eyes. I added a bit of light from a strip softbox on the balcony outside the window for some of the set.

There's a few things about the lighting pattern I would fine tune next time (mainly I'd take some continuous lighting like LED panels to have more control over fill and colour temperature- I was fighting to keep the exposure from the flash as low as possible). But overall I'm really happy with how these have worked out. I'd like to shoot a few variations on it in future but for now- big tick in Hywel's idea notebook! Thanks Coco! (And poor Ariel who was responsible for the metal bondage, which she hates putting on models- she always drops the rings from the SM Factory cuffs on the floor, or on someone's foot....)

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