Naked, locked in the cold metal stocks, shackles around her ankles, beautiful redhead Helen awaits her sale to her business rivals. Cheating the organisation never pays!
Hywel's note: This lovely set of Helen Stephens was an inspiration- and a curse. I loved the way the indirect northern winter light looked on set, and rather than mess about with it or try to recreate it using flash, I decided to try shooting in natural light. I knew the light level was too low to try the Hasselblad, and the best alternative I had at the time was a venerable Canon 7D, originally bought for video in the first flush of the dSLR cine revolution. A low-light monster it was not. Even ISO 400 was a bit of a push. I need to shoot at 1/160th or ideally 1/200th to really lock out subject motion and camera shake, no stabilisation to help out. And the best lens option I had was a 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom (the room is a bit small for my usual 35mm/50mm/85mm trio of primes to work well on a crop-frame camera).
Now the results aren't at all bad- Helen looks stunning and the light is interesting. But if you've read the "Hywel's Notes" over the years you'll realise I have an image quality fetish. I knew that this was right at the ragged edge of the camera capability, and I was a bit sad about that. This sparked the quest for better available/natural/low light shooting that led to the purchase of the Sony A7Rii (image stabilisation, much better high ISO performance, lower noise generally) and yet another sack of expensive fast primes.
But compare and contrast with the debut set of Scarlett Foxett this month which was shot in more or less identical lighting conditions (especially the latter half of the set, which was shot after the sun had set behind the houses and was purely indirect northern sky light). I did add a little fill to those, mostly to ensure catchlights in Scarlett's eyes.
What you can't really tell just from the shots is the difference in ease of shooting. These shots of Helen were about at the limit of the camera-photographer system to shoot. The shots of Scarlett at 1/125th, ISO 800, F/2.8 were easily within the capabilities of the system. If I'd needed the extra reach, I could have shot at 1/60th, ISO 1600, F/1.4: 4 stops, or a factor of 16 in light level!
So it is interesting (to me, sorry if techie stuff bores you!) to see the start point and end point of the two and a half year quest to shoot in available light. Apologies if the whole shallow depth of field available light look isn't to your taste- it's a look I love, but it'll never crowd out the ultra-detail medium-format f/8 everything is sharp style that has been my main signature look on the site since the beginning. It's just good to have more arrows in one's quiver!
nude in metal, redhead, nude, yoke, barefoot, leg irons