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.

My Home Studio: Part 1

- Want to see where I work? Check out part 2 here: my home office -

A lot of people seem to think I have this giant space. I do not. I actually never had more space then those 2 converted bedrooms I work in now and not so long ago I rented a small, bedroom sized commercial space. And even before that, I used to work in my studio between my bed and desk. And going even further back, I had to sit on my bed to even be able to shoot a half body. I started working with clients in the time I had a one-room living studio space. Good times.

I think space, as a whole, is something I’m right now in between proud and embarassement. It’s small and it’s stuffed full because I got too many awesome costumes and props and an amount of lights I’m not really able to place around yet have been managing kinda okay actually - considering where I got through that road in the past 3, 4 years of doing this studio stuff.

So right now, have an introduction in my space part 1! The next blog will be about my office, the one I’m working on right now while writing this and basically doing everything else when I’m not shooting in my studio or somewhere on an other location for the job.

But let’s talk about my magical place right now where I create about 99% of my work for the past 2 years that you see and probably has brought you to this blog all the way: Our appartment right now is pretty big, which means I was able to not only take one, but two bedrooms for my professional purposes of photography and everything surrounding it - which has been absolutely amazing as I never had this much space and even though right now I’m really feeling it’s limitations - I love the simplicity because it gives me a constant purpose to motivate and push those edges in all directions. There is nothing more, it’s all I have. And it has learned me to think only within the frame of my camera, not outside of it.

I also got pretty good at figuring out space-management, which was until not so long ago owning between 300 to 400 costume pieces (including as far as 8 sets of armor), a bunch of lamps & modifiers thanks to the GenNEXT broncolor program, a ton of material like my giant reflector (I use to avoid light bouncing off my wall) and way too many colored backdrops. An ikea wardrobe became a partial costume storage (also becoming an awesome interior styling thing), holding also a ton of modifiers & props I use during shooting and other technical equipment - finished with a piece painted by my dear friend Shienra featuring “Triss Merigold” from the Witcher. Behind my backdrop I have my own armor and weapon armory (that 1m35 backdrop hides three full sets of plate armor, way too many fake and real weapons and some loose pieces for example), the corners have been transformed to one side some more light equipment and my authentic harpoon (yup) while the other is the “backdrop spot” where I can easily pick and store anything I don’t use.

When I’m not using my lamps; I usually store them all in front of my backdrop - keeping 2/3rd of my studio free which is easier to clean and keep track of; but when I’m working I usually put them on my left when shooting as they’re not in the way of either myself or the set.

Against my “free” wall I have stored some mannequins, which is just easier to store another 2 sets of armor. They also hold some stools to sit on - but it’s also where I often put my main light; which is why I don’t bother to cover that wall as the light comes from that direction anyway. The other side I have my (by accidentely way too big) reflector; which is my most beloved thing now because it doubles both as anti-light for deeper shadows but also as a bigger and especially higher backdrop when my model(s) and/or sets are too tall. Two-in-one is awesome.

And that’s about it. Do I want a bigger space? Please yes. I REALLY do. But until then, it’s my cozy space.
Am I a bit embarrased and shy to share this finally? I actually do. It feels in a way unprofessional to share how small and humble my space is to be honest, but at the same time: this is what it is. I don’t nééd more to be able to do what I do and I know once I hit a new chapter in life - one with hopefully a bigger space - I am aware how lucky I am to have it and how many crazy opportunities that is giving me. And I can basically work almost anywhere by now because I’m not bothered as much by what (isn’t) there.

The entrance to the studio of my alternative reality from day to day.

The entrance to the studio of my alternative reality from day to day.

My studio: 1m35 of colorama paper fun I have worked on since the earliest days of purchasing this in 2015. I went through about 3 black backdrop rolls by now - but most of my rolls have been going strong since the start. it’s pretty crooked - but I don’t cut it off unless it’s like literally falling apart from (ab)use as I don’t always shoot full body and backdrop paper is expensive … Currently it has two new holes into it due to yesterday’s evening shoot (woops).  The studio holds the following equipment: a broncolor siros 800, a move 1200 with 2 lamps, a beautydish, an octabox, two stripboxes (30x120cm on permanent lamps - my other is folded up and away), there is also a para, a picolight with various attachments and some various stuff that is either brandless or fun tools.

My studio: 1m35 of colorama paper fun I have worked on since the earliest days of purchasing this in 2015. I went through about 3 black backdrop rolls by now - but most of my rolls have been going strong since the start. it’s pretty crooked - but I don’t cut it off unless it’s like literally falling apart from (ab)use as I don’t always shoot full body and backdrop paper is expensive … Currently it has two new holes into it due to yesterday’s evening shoot (woops).

The studio holds the following equipment: a broncolor siros 800, a move 1200 with 2 lamps, a beautydish, an octabox, two stripboxes (30x120cm on permanent lamps - my other is folded up and away), there is also a para, a picolight with various attachments and some various stuff that is either brandless or fun tools.

How it was lit: Fervor - Artifical & Natural Light

How it was lit: Fervor

My first time using artificial light on location

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done this shoot, but I’m so happy I can finally talk about it: my very first time using artificial light outside. When I became a broncolor GenNEXT ambassador, I quickly knew I wanted to have the possibility to work outside as well – as I felt that was something I rarely did anymore. Mostly because I felt uninspired and I love how I’m able to use artificial light to create certain moods and feelings – but it was something out of my reach. This entire set was shot with a Siros 800 with just one modifier (a Softlight Reflector with diffuser) and being able to just pack it up and go is pretty mindblowing. Everything is battery charged and I made it through the entire session with just two, with the second still going strong and steady.

For this specific shoot I had some of my favorite people on set: Eline Deblauwe who was taking care of hair and make-up, my gorgeous muses Luce Del Sole & Van Spooky Pants, with dresses by Church Of Sanctus – a London base independent vegan brand – and amazing jewelry by Finnish designer Eero Hintsanen.

For this one I only took one modifier with me – as I had this idea to create very deep and contrast like images with the urban location we had in Antwerp: which was the Siros 800 and the Softlight Reflector with a diffuser. I did my first try with Spooky and it took me a bunch of attempts to figure out the “how” as the first images looked like the (what I don’t like) typical look I see very often with artificial light outside.

Try-Outs.jpg

It all came together the moment I positioned my model against the beautiful, strong evening light we had on that fall day and I used the light to fill in my model rather than to use it as a main light. And that was basically the magic I was looking for. The first try (with Spooky) resulted in some heavy chromatic aberration (which I’ve been able to work away), for the second shoot I positioned my model in a more overcast setting and used the shadowplay of the building we where shooting under for a different kind of look.

I positioned my light mostly on the left, angled up at a 45 degrees downwards while the rest of the image was mostly lit by the evening light. It resulted in a deep, contrast like set of images without losing any details and an absolute minimum for editing. Most I had to do was color conversion and adjustments to contrast and light – with just a few minor distraction removals.

And on that note: The Siros 800 is an absolute beast - the HS (High-Speed) was able to balance out the beautiful evening light and merge both light sources together. It is definitely visible it’s not only using natural light, but it doesn’t has this overpowering feel to it like in my first tests and that was the look I was going for.

Lane1.jpg

I shot a second set near the water, which was a bit more tricky as I had more natural light and the sun was setting, but again I was able with some minor adjustments to get it all done and ready to shoot with a similar set-up as before. As before, in post-processing I barely had to do any editing as everything just flawlessy came together on set.

I will be going outside again shortly to try more of this, this time with colored gels and/or more modifiers but that will be for another blog. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed!

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