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The Elegance Network: Browsing Tillie: Luminous
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Tillie: Luminous

Ariel is kind enough to help me go through the RE accounts every year. Mostly she just chats away, but every so often she makes that resigned little sigh that means she can't quite believe how much money I've spent on yet another item of techie nonsense. The new Sony will be one of those, I'm sure of it. So here in advance is my defence against the slightly exasperated sigh- just look at how luminous these photos of the delightful Tillie are!

You see this set was shot entirely in available light, something with which my other cameras always struggle. The improved dynamic range and low noise floor of the Sony sensor, coupled with image stabilisation which works with EVERY lens, means that the hit rate of shots in changeable winter sunlight like this makes for an acceptable set of photos- whereas I'd only ever be brave enough to shoot a few shots with the Hasselblad purely in the available light, and would instead have shot most of this set in controllable, but less gloriously golden and atmospheric light.

I'm very proud of these shots. (I'm also being a bit unfair to Ariel, as usual. She's lovely :-)

It's such a pleasure to be able to capture a subtle and beautiful natural lighting effect that was previously just a bit out of reach technically. I could have captured a few shots by putting a camera on a tripod, but that's a shockingly bad way to work when you need to get a set's worth of photos of a model in chains or rope. It's not very efficient from a business point of view, isn't the safest to be slowed down as one does like to get the model out of things long before it risks becoming uncomfortable. But most of all I find the tripod cripples the ability to see shots and take them as they occur. So being able to work in lower light, with more depth and clarity to the images, is a real revelation. In case you hadn't noticed, I'm enjoying using the Sony as an adjunct to the Hasselblad.

Even when the sun went in there was enough light to keep shooting. The feel and mood of the images changes, but it wasn't the "right, that's it, let's turn the flashes back on" that it would have been with previous colours.

Oh, and I'm sorry for ignoring Tillie's skill and performance in this write-up. I'm very spoilt. I get to work with many of the best models in the country, even the world. I am not great at directing and I absolutely suck at micro-directing. (That's what I call it when the photographer issues small directions to the model like "change the angle of your arm in a bit, point your toes a bit more".) What skill I have as a photographer is moving myself and finding a good composition given what's in front of me. So I always choose to work with the models who work more collaboratively on set- who will find a new, interesting pose every time the shutter clicks, then wait while I reposition myself slightly to optimise how that pose looks on camera.

It is not that there's anything wrong with models who do exactly what the photographer tells them to do and don't do anything that they aren't told to do- I'm sure if you favour micro-directing it must be exasperating to have the model wiggling around all over the place when you just want her to hold still so you can fine-tune the pose. But faced with a model who is expecting such close direction I get panicked and a bit frustrated. (Ariel teases me that she knows things aren't going well from the other room if I desperately say "try finding another pose for me" within the first sixty seconds of the shoot).

No, what I personally enjoy the most is collaborations where everyone puts in the thing they are best at- the way Tillie or Ariel is just so good at finding exquisite poses, the rigger has done a flattering and evocative and neat job of the rigging, the light is enchanting and all I have to do is find the frames to capture the beauty as I see it. And that's why I enjoy working with Tillie so much, and why I enjoy having Ariel as the rigger so much, even if I know that she'd really prefer to be the model ALL of the time ;-)

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