Photoshoot with Helen

Helen Simmons and I had talked about doing a photo shoot for a while, but we could not get our schedules in order. Finally last Saturday, after a small detour to Italy, she made it to Cambridge. She came by car so we decided to take advantage of that and explore the University outpost that is Girton College. It is not very far from where I have been living for the last three years, but despite that I had never made it there before. We walked around and felt almost guilty walking on the grass. Cambridge does strange things to your psyche.

After doing some shots there we went back to my place, I wanted to swap some lenses before we headed into the more central parts of Cambridge. I was going to say that all the photos that I picked for this blog post were taken with my 85 mm lens, which is great for portrait, but then I decided to double check my claim and found out that several of the shots were actually taken with my 50 mm.

This photo was taken with the 85 mm lens. I liked that the wind blew her hair so that it covered part of her face. I made this photo black and white and added a bit of split toning.
This photo was taken in the parking garage not far from the ADC Theatre. We had been up shooting on the roof, and in the staircase down there was a semi-transparent window that gave an interesting light. Helen has perfected the innocent look.
Here we experimented with backlighting Helen while she tossed her hair. If my sister in law Sandra saw the length of Helen’s hair then her fingers would be itching to braid it.
This was an experiment with light and shadows. There was a metal grating that created the lines on her skin. Her hair was fanned out in all directions, but my final edit is a bit dark so you might not see it that well. I was tempted to increase the contrast, but resisted the urge and went for a softer look.
This is probably my favourite photo from this photo shoot. I had originally had it in a 2:3 crop, but then posted the photo on Instagram which required that I made it square. I was not happy about that, but to my surprise the photo became even better. I had been concerned that there would not be enough space for her to look to the left, making the photo feel constrained, but it came together nicely. I have brightened her hair a little bit so that it would be more visible against the dark background, creating a nice line from her forehead leading down to the right before turning towards the hand.

I felt that the portrait photos were the strongest ones from this photo shoot, so I decided to focus my blog post on them. Helen is a bit of a chameleon, and several what I would say similar shots with slight variations in angle or light made her look like different people. It was fascinating to see. To be continued…

– Johannes

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