High powered executive Natalia Forrest is captured and tied in the gardens of her stately home by a vengeful employee!
Hywel's note: this set is one from our recent Wycombe mega-location-shoot. It's a bit shorter than we were planning- which is why Natalia doesn't get her legs tied as we'd originally intended. We were testing out new ways of shooting, and for this set Steve and I had set up a lighting pattern which allowed us to shoot very shallow depth of field despite the full sunshine. Normally we'd have had to have a honking great neutral density filter to allow this, because the camera wanted to be up at 1/4000th of a second or so in order to maintain f/1.4 aperture.
At that sort of shutter speed, normal flash units can't sync and you'd get a nasty narrow stripe of light if you got anything at all. Using the sun as backlight and punching in some fill from a shoot-through umbrella in front, you can get some really great results, but you need a flash unit capable of high speed sync (HSS) with the Sony cameras to achieve this mix of very shallow depth of field plus nicely-filled shot.
Well, the Elinchrom EL500TTL flash unit I got hold of recently ticks the boxes- it can do high speed sync. What we didn't realise is that high speed sync requires the flash to firing at more or less full power to get a decent amount of fill when we place it where we would usually place it with our Hensel units. And that TTL is a great idea: the camera meters the flash based on a test flash and sets power accordingly, supposedly giving near-perfect results. But if you leave TTL on, it fires two full power flashes for every shot. Reader, we ran out of battery power on the flash. Natalia and Steve soldiered on, but as you can see on the final shots that fill in flash is kinda vital for really nice results- the sun was high enough that direct light was unflattering, and Natalia was standing on a giant green reflector which makes the colour balance a lot less attractive than when the fill in flash is doing its job.
Parenthetically, this is why we've always shot sets like this with the Hasselblad/Hensel combination before now. The Hasselblad has leaf shutters in the lens which sync up to 1/800th of a second (which is the fastest the shutter can fire) and the Hensels have more oomph (1200 J vs 500 J for the Elinchrom) and don't need to do fancy tricks with pulsing or long duration flash to achieve HSS. Plus the battery packs on the Hensel seem to last longer even at full power, and I have spares (the Elinchrom is new and spare batteries weren't on sale when I bought it).
However, we were not dismayed! The set is bloody gorgeous, Natalia looks awesome and there are few looks quite as attractive as the Sony 85mm f/1.4 GM lens wide open - the Hasselblad can't get quite this dreamy with its 80mm f/2.8 lens, despite the larger sensor. Having learned from our mistake the first thing we did on future sets on this trip was turn TTL off as soon as we'd got a good exposure. (The Elinchrom has a great user interface for that- fire a shot TTL, then switch to manual and the flash sets itself to what the TTL setting was.) More importantly, I realised that firing at really short shutter durations wasn't really achieving the "linear" effect on background vs foreground brightness that it does with the Hasselblad/Hensel combo - and that if I was brave and shot at more like 1/1000th or 1/2000th and risked a bit of burnout, the fill-in flash was much more effective (presumably because the light isn't being spread so thin in time?) Adding a second flash head and putting them either side of the camera, much closer to the model that we're used to with the Hensels achieved further improvements, so we could fire at more like half or quarter power, which has a drastic effect on the number of shots one can get out. So by the end of the trip we could shoot three or four sets of 100+ pictures with shallow depth of field, reasonable shutter speed and lovely levels of fill on a single charge. Result!
Barefoot, bondage, brunette, business clothes, secretary, outdoors, rope bondage