Early bird

Joanna Vymeris and I had been planning to do a morning photo shoot with snow for a few weeks now, but it kept getting delayed. BBC promised snow a few times, but when the day came there was no snow. In the end we decided to just set a date. If we did not get snow, at least we would get a beautiful morning sunrise. I set my alarm clock for 6:25 and went to bed hoping for good weather. Turned out we got a cloudy morning, with just a hint of pink. So instead of playing with a beautiful sky we had to create our own coloured light with gelled flashes.

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We were on our way to St Barnabas Press, but took a wrong turn and rather than backtrack we decided to do some shots where we were. First photo of the day without any flash.
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I recently bought a second flash, so was keen on trying to see what we could do with that. This photo I am pretty happy with, but it required quite a bit of post processing to lighten the background behind Joanna so you could see her amazing split. My plan was to underexpose the sky, while illuminating Joanna to make sure she was correctly exposed. This would create a more dramatic look as it was already getting lighter. There is so much to learn about flash photography.

For the flash photos I used my built-in flash in commander mode so I could control the strength of the two external flashes independently using my camera menu. That saved me a lot of running back and forth. Next time I hope to play around more with the shadows cast by the flashes.

As the morning progressed, more and more people started passing through our tunnel, so we did a few more shots, then went searching for St Barnabas Press.

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Playing around with angles. Joanna is great at coming up with creative poses.
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Joanna got up on one of the metal posts, and by shooting upwards I could get a clean background for her. In retrospect I should probably have taken a step back to include a bit more background in the photo to show the location.
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One last shot before we had to head back. We found this old truck with the Union Jack painted on it, which gave me an idea and I asked Joanna to jump in front of it and try to match the lines in the flag. She did it brilliantly!

It was fun to play around and see what we could do with two flashes. I have a lot to learn before it becomes second nature. When I sat down at home to look through some of the photos from the tunnel afterwards I saw several things to improve, but that is what makes this interesting. I am already making a mental check list for the next photo shoot. For example, for some shots it can be a good idea to have one of the two flashes work double duty and also illuminate a selected part of the background behind the model.

Big thanks to Joanna for joining me on this crazy early morning adventure. If you want to see more photos like this, have a look at the Street Ballet photos.

– Johannes

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