Battle Fairies: Aelesia the Harbinger

Battle Fairies: Aelesia The Harbinger
- Behind The Scenes -

Can you organise a kick-ass shoot in less in just a few hours for the day after? I had this situation many times by now but every single time it’s like a little gamble, even though the worst that can happen is that you don’t have the results you where hoping for but still had a good time just hanging out with likeminded, crazy creative people … It may also result in some of those “this is it” moments. For me, this is one of those.

I came from a meeting for the spring shoot for Historische Huizen Gent when I passed by the park where I saw these gorgeous trees with the blossoms in full bloom. And as my brain works, I realised in that split second I needed to shoot something cool there. I immediately went to my Riddersquad group on Facebook (an inside joke that became a thing, it’s basically where I post all my calls for my regular team members when I got a random idea) and asked who was down getting dresed up in armor, wings and pretty dresses.

My first response was Lady Louiza and Saartje Van Den Haute who where both free for the afternoon - followed by My Fragility who coincidentally was at the hairdressers to get her hair dyed pink. If that isn’t the universe doing it’s magick, I don’t know what is …

Since I know My Fragility is one of my badass chicks, I decided to give her one of my long-term ideas which I lovingly call my “Battle Fairies” as in my head it just sounded pretty damn awesome. As usual I had 0 ideas how it would turn out for real on set … but in all it’s unfunctional glory - it turned out pretty damn awesome. There is something cool about the delicate nature of the flowers and a flowy white dress worn by this petite pink haired model with fairy wings & this upper body set of armor.

The set-up of our first set. We started shooting in the later afternoon, just before the golden hour.

Credits

Model - My Fragility
Makeup - My Fragility & Saartje Van Den Haute
Assistance - Lady Louiza & Saartje
Dress - Vintage
Armor - Mytholon
Wings - Hellofaerie

Gear

Canon 5D Mark III
Canon 50mm 1.4
broncolor siros 800
Softbox 60x100
an Ikea chair.

Our second set-up. We shot in the later afternoon, with the golden hour slowly setting in.

Our second set-up. We shot in the later afternoon, with the golden hour slowly setting in.

For the sets I decided to bring one of my broncolor lamps, which is the siros 800 and a regular softbox (60x100 cm) - because it’s such an easy and functional piece I knew I could more easily practice and see what would happen. Working with artificial light is still fairly new to me but I really feel I’m getting the hang of it: it’s a pretty awesome and versatile way of working, which also works incredibly well in my style of photography because it feels much more cinematographic. Maybe it is because I’ve been doing almost only studio for 3 or 4 years up until now - I just feel it “clicks” together. Especially because I wanted a lot of color: I decided to use a teal colorgel for the first set: this would complement the pink flowers and her hair and give some colorful depth to my images. I knew the wings (who are more towards a pink/red/black shade) where also pretty reflective so that helped to really bring everything together.

For the second set I wanted a more monochrome color theme, so I switched to a pink gel (which I also used for the b/w set). It’s a different approach and my heart lies most with the colorgasms that the first set is - but I can definitely see a lot of potential in this approach and I really want to try out more of this.

Some more practical stuff is: because I always try to avoid any disturbances to my location and set I’m working on and at the same time, also want to avoid any composing and/or altering my work; I had to diy and wing it a bit. I have a deep love and respect for any composite artists out there - but it’s just not my thing at all. So I brought one of my posing chairs and asked my model to stand on it (usually where there was a gap between the branches), bringing her high up in the flowers without any alterations to my location. It also allowed for some gorgeous angles from my side, which was an extra plus.

How it was lit: Wynvyre (part 2)

In my previous blog I shared the first part of this session I shot with some of my favorite people - while my original intent was to work with just one light on set; I found myself incredibly inspired by how everything came together and I wanted to try something I wanted to do and try for a while: how does light (the absence) of light affect a shoot when shooting the exact same concept and styling? How does color changes the mood? And what would happen if we add more lights to enhance details in hair and make-up?

This session was perfect for it - as it had a beatiful hairstyling by Eline that would look incredible when using some backlit light; with also the red of the dress being an amazing combination with teal, my favorite kind of colorgel to use. While our first set was a minimum set-up of only using one broncolor light and an octabox; I’ve used almost my entire set of lamps for the following session: a siros 800 with a softlight reflector, my picolight with a fresnel and the move 1200 l with the octabox. I also changed the backdrop from dark grey to black - as I wanted just a minimum of “color bleeding” to distract from my subject. Lastly I kept the reflector on the right to ensure there wouldn’t be too many deep shadows.

It’s a set-up I never tried before - but I really loved how it all came together, better than I had anticipated in advance actually: I decided to use my picolight with fresnel on the left as the main highlight point of my image - giving just a little bit more strength so it would draw our eyes first there. Because broncolor their gear allow me to go even a tenth of the strenght, I could really work it in detail how much I needed, while equally doing the same on the other side to ensuring that my softlight reflector would give enough strength without dominating the scene. I wanted both lights to give a backlit feel in the hair and give a beautiful rimlight on her face and body.

To compensate the mostly backlit set, I used the octabox to fill in the remaining of the portrait I was taking - as I still wanted all the details of the make-up, hair and and styling to be clearly seen.

In post-processing I only enhanced the colors, mostly the red and teal, finished with some minor dodge and burn and cleaning up some distractions. For this capture one pro has been a massive gamechanger as I’m able to work much more in depth with my color work without affecting the quality of my images.


Want to read more about part 1? You can find my first blog where I shot the same set with just one light and a reflector by clicking the link!

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Gear I’ve used

broncolor move 1200L + octabox
broncolor picolight + fresnel attachment
broncolr siros 800 L + softlight reflector p
Giant white reflector

Shot on a Canon 5D Mark III with a 50mm 1.4
Edited in Capture One Pro & Photoshop

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Credits Creative team

Model - Luce Del Sole
Makeup & Hair - Eline Deblauwe
Dress - Maria Heller designs
Spine Necklace - Eero Hintsanen
Photography & Retouch - Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

Light Diagram

Made with the light Diagram Creator

Made with the light Diagram Creator

Tutorial: Fractal & Prism Photography

How to achieve “kaleidoscope” effects or “using fractals”

An introduction

Kaleidoscope photography or “shooting with fractals” as I like to call them is a fun, little technique I’ve been using during the past few years. While it’s nothing new to “shoot through glass” - working with prisms like this gives a whole new dimension to the technique. The reason why I love them so much is because they give an awesome and ever-changing effect - which is both beautiful for photography indoors as outdoors but also for video. While I work with a a bit more pricey variant, you could shoot this kind of effect also with cheaper prisms you can find on ebay or certain (science) shops.

The ones I have are the (first generation) Classic fractals from GetFractals.com - with the Penrose, Julia & Pascal filter. I hope to purchase the newer generation soon as my favorite one - the penrose - has been updated and will allow for a much more interesting effect for portraits I think (also one can never have enough fractals in the house!) but since they’re slightly more expensive compared to other fractals out there I havent gotten around to it yet.

How to use these beauties

Just hold them in front of your camera and there it is! You can shoot “kaleidoscope” now. What I’ve learned since I got them is very simple yet a bit of a hassle: like many “external” props you use, you need to get the hang of them a bit and understand how to use it to your advantage and aesthetics. I do have some quick pointers I would like to share with all of you to hopefully avoid some beginners mistakes (I encountered):

What can I tell:

- They behave véry differentely when you use them for photography or video! While some effects are super strong when using them for photo, they are much more subtile in video and vice versa.

- Natural light and artificial light gives different results. While they’re all different, when using for example the “Pascal” filter indoors will both reflect your surroundings and give either super awesome or super weird effects. While if used with an (artificial) light source from behind, beside or above - these will be reflected and can be really awesome for sci-fi kinda vibes!

- Make sure you use them wisely: as awesome as they’re to go all wild, composition with these is super important; especially if you work with a human subject. Try to be aware of how it affects the body: chins, arms, necks, shoulders may become much heavier or even get cropped off completely and will be very unflattering.

- They’re glass, don’t drop them. But this also means they have a certain “softness” over them and what looks sharp in camera may not be, shooting tethered (even uncalibrated) is highly recommended.

- It’s worth it to first focus, hold your aim and then place your fractal in front of your lens for further compositing. Focussing through them can be frustrating and may lead to too-blurry shots.

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Literally instant awesomness right away!

Literally instant awesomness right away!

Below are the separate fractals and their effect, as demonstrated on one of my lovely assistant-plans ; as well as some examples of actual previous shoots and videos I’ve used them for.
You loved what you saw? You can support me on Patreon for just 2 dollars for more tutorials and articles like this.

“Julia” fractal filter: or the “eye of the storm” as I like to call it. This is the one I use the least because it’s effect is not what I usually go for in my work.

“Julia” fractal filter: or the “eye of the storm” as I like to call it. This is the one I use the least because it’s effect is not what I usually go for in my work.

The “Penrose” filter: my favorite. I hope to update this one soon, but I find this one awesome to use as it’s easy to get a kaleidoscope effect - even in small spaces - with some really epic results instantly.

The “Penrose” filter: my favorite. I hope to update this one soon, but I find this one awesome to use as it’s easy to get a kaleidoscope effect - even in small spaces - with some really epic results instantly.

The “Pascal” filter is one I came to love: while originally I wasn’t a huge fan of it; I’ve found it’s absolutely amazing to use when you have lightsources from above, beside or behind you to create almost sci-fi kinda effects. It’s also one of my favorites for outside as it gives a more subtile touch compared to the “Penrose”

The “Pascal” filter is one I came to love: while originally I wasn’t a huge fan of it; I’ve found it’s absolutely amazing to use when you have lightsources from above, beside or behind you to create almost sci-fi kinda effects. It’s also one of my favorites for outside as it gives a more subtile touch compared to the “Penrose”

Some of the results I’ve shot during my time working with them: both in the studio as on location.

Some (older) videos where I used the fractals for an awesome effect.

My home studio: Part 2

If you didn’t see my previous post (my home studio), I highly recommend checking it out as it’s the first part of my small, humble home space where I’ve been working for the past two years on my business. I thought I would show a bit on where I spend way too much time when I’m not shooting but basically everything else: from writing blogs like this to my post-processing, emails and also some gaming each now & then.

When I’m working with clients, table are taken out and all set-up - transforming this place in an instant studio filled with music of their choice, tons of talking and giving people some serious make-overs that the studio has been know for.

But for now since I temporarily closed bookings due to too much work, I’ve been working mostly on my own here these days which has been a great breath of fresh air for me. It also made my space a bit more personal, as I tend to leave a lot of my personal belongings around. But for the biggest part, this is how it often looks. I wanted my space to be personal and cozy - both because I spend so much time here but also as I’ve heard from my clients they actually loved it felt like such a personal space. I’ve been playing into that a bit.

My room itself is kind of the same size as my studio, a bit wider maybe. And it works perfectly for what I need: I use half the space for wardrobe and storage (long live Ikea!) with the rest being an instant “interior” styling with some of my favorite designs or pieces I can’t store away due to space. There is also a bunch of flowers and plants basically everywhere I can: without those I feel this place gets cold and uncomfortable.

The dinosaurs I got to explain is a joke of my boyfriend, but I left them as they make me smile basically every single time I see them guarding my old camera collection.

My desk is one with two screens: one is for Netflix/Youtube so I can listen to some of my favorite series and movies when I’m editing or Spotify which usually is playing game music (like right now). My computer is one build by my boyfriend (as it’s his “old” one) - don’t ask me for the specifics. I don’t know. It works like a beast though and it even has lights in it so I’m happy. The rest is pretty straightforward: keyboard and mouse with an ergonomic mousepad (health first). A blanket on my chair because I get cold all the time.

Some of the corners are currently stacked: either with pieces I’ve sold and need to ship in the next day or two or some collabs (because I had to ship them back and I don’t have new boxes yet). It’s the safest place right now to keep those stacked as either my wardrobes are full, I’ve been working in the studio in the past days. It’s also a spot the cats never come, which is only extra points.

My view is on a park. Which is amazing. Again, green and nature makes me happy and I love hearing the birds - especially now with spring and summer. And my screen of course, duh.

So I hope you liked the insight in my cozy office! Again it’s humble and small, but again: it’s my space. I can work here, I can close the door at the end of a long day (and night). It’s at my home space as well so I can walk from work straight into my living room and welcome the cats anytime they need my immediate attention for cuddles (which happens every hour or so).

And it’s my space. It’s cool.

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Game Of Thrones: A Song of Queens & Ruins

I love Game of Thrones, as a geek, even way before the series where ever talked about. I think I had my first book of George R. R. Martin - which was the first book of GoT as we know it now - somewhere back in 2006, maybe 2007. Makes me feel old but hey - here I am nonetheless shooting one of my first shoots inspired by someone else their lifework!

The whole idea started when I reached out to Fairytas, asking if I could borrow any of her jawdropping amazing designs for another session in the Abbey of Villers because it’s my favorite place and I’m obsessed with her work. It felt like a match made in heaven. To my luck, she said yes and said she had the “red corset and cloak” I could borrow and kind of throw me of my chair when she showed me the actual design. If I wanted to borrow it of course. Needlessy to say I never said “yes” so quickly in my freaking life hahaha.

There was one lady I had in mind from the start and thats my dear friend Lucy aka Luce Del Sole, who we decided would be a great embodiement of a “Cersei” inspired character. Bitchface and wine in hand and all we love and like about the character. Considering our Lucy is one of the sweetest souls on earth, it was a hell of a lot of fun seeing her transform in some badass queen who takes no shit on set.

For this I knew I wanted to work again with my broncolor GenNEXT gear - specifically the siros 800 which is my current favorite as it’s so easy to transport, I have three batteries and I set it up anywhere with one of my tripods and a modifier. For this I wanted to keep it simple and just use the 60x100cm softbox as it gives a really nice fill in light that would work for almost all my 1-light setups - and at the same time allow me to practice and play around. It was one of my first bigger shoots using natural and artificial light together so I decided flexibility was the way to go.

We started shooting around high noon, which was basically super bright crazy hard sunlight I really do not like working with and definitely did not see for this set. But what I do like about bright sunlight is the gorgeous backglow it gives - so I positioned my model almost entirely with her back to it and used the siros on HS (high speed) so I could keep my aperture open for that bokeh I adore so much without having overexposed images. I pretty much decided to keep doing this for the rest of the shooting through all sets as this was exactly what I had in mind - and as extra, made the colors of the costumes and details pop out amazingly gorgeous.

For me this was one of the first times I felt I was able to use artifical and natural light like I had imagined it and it has inspired me to do a ton more shoots now (of which two more have already been shot). What I also love so much about it is basically the realisation right now that I have a lot more control about the light when working on location - which is gold for future potential clients. Since I’m lately obsessed by becoming technically better - I’m working on my weak points and that is mastering any light (and combination).

For this I do have to thank my amazing team: Lucy (Luce Del Sole) as model, Fairytas for letting me shoot her gorgeous designs, Shienra for being an awesome asisstant and friend, Lumecluster who has been collaborating with me with her epic Phoenix Gauntlets and of course: broncolor for choosing me to be part of the GenNEXT 2018 broncolor ambassadors. And of course: Abbeye De Villers for being such an awesome piece of heritage we can work at!

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Some behind the scenes I shot in between, everything is shot with both artificial as natural light.