Stoyana levitation shoot

Yesterday I photographed Stoyana at her house. We did both some portraits and some more creative photos. In the week before we had talked about doing something mystical, possibly relating to her moon tattoo. We met up at 2 pm, and I was considering bringing my flash, however, since it was bright sunlight I decided against. Instead, somehow, my LED lamp found its way into my backpack. Sort of like a backup, just in case we for some reason might need a bit of extra light. My camera bag was full to the brim with the 35 mm, 50 mm and 85 mm lens.

This was one of my favourite photos from the portrait session. It was shot with the 85 mm portrait lens. I like the mystery with just the tattoo being properly lit and the face in shadows. There is a little bit of photoshopping to soften the skin, but other than that this is what it looked like when shot. I could have used a slightly smaller aperture to get her face in focus as well, unfortunately I did not notice that when I was shooting.
This is more a regular portrait, with simple light from the window in front of her face. It is shot with the 50mm lens at a slightly closer range. I have just desaturated the photo and added a bit of split toning. At 63 cm focusing distance with f/3.2 I have a depth of field smaller than 3 cm according to the depth of field calculator just now. For a given aperture, the closer you focus the smaller the depth of field. If I had focused on something 3 meters away (and kept all my other settings the same), the depth of field would have been 68 centimeters. More than enough to get the entire face sharp, and leave me some room for missing the focus. But when you are close, you do not have that luxury.
After doing some normal shots we decided to start playing around with composite photos. The picture of the moon is courtesy of NASA.

Once you start to play around with combining different photos then you open up the door for making some really creative stuff. The best part about this particular photo was how it evolved and took shape as everyone came with ideas. The levitation photo is a composite of three different shots. The first and the second photo have Stoyana sitting on a cupboard and the third photo is of just the background, so we could remove the cupboard from the first photo, in post processing. The second shot was needed to get rid of the hairdryer which did not have too long a range so Nikos, who was helping out, had to hold it quite close. In her hands Stoyana was holding a lamp cover of glass, with a LED lamp underneath, to provide the illumination. This meant the legs, which were tucked away under her dress, were in shadows.

If you want to see an example of how you can use composite images to make interesting photos, then see this Youtube video that shows another of my photos being edited. There is also an earlier blog post with Stoyana and her sister Iliana that I wrote a while back.

It was great fun, and I am really happy with how the photos turned out. There will be more composite photos in the future… Many thanks to Stoyana and Nikos for a great Sunday afternoon.

– Johannes

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