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.

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.

Armor & Smoke

There are a few things I’ve been not so lowkey obsessed with for some years and that has been shooting a lot of concepts and stories fueled by inspiration that comes from armor, knights and shieldmaidens. It kinda kicked off with Arcadia; it turned into a second sister series called “Requiem” and here we are right now, fast forward to 2019; doing what I love most: causing some havoc.

For this set I got to thank my dear friend Erik, who both graciously let me work on his private land with the smoke bombs as well as offering his stronger smokebombs after I not-so-graciously forgot to check all weather conditions except wind. Which turned out to be pretty heavy that day and proved to be a bit of a challenge to control. But all by all: things turned out amazing!

This set was originally intended to be part of my broncolor GenNEXT program but after seeing the results on set I wasn’t completely satisfied - not due to technical matters; but simply because I had seen something far bigger in my head and I decided that this would just be a “little pre-study” ; one that seriously impressed and inspired me:

Shooting with popular elements like smoke bombs are easily repeated; Pinterest (and my moodboard) are full of awesome shots yet often touch on the same kind of approach, with the same goes for all “knight in the wood” themes. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I like to turn things around a bit, even just a little. For this I decided I would introduce a lot of color; partially because I absolutely love color and using this in my work but also as it’s not something I’ve seen done before a lot. For me there is something really inspiring about using some unusual elements and bringing these together and see it come to life in front of me. This here was no exception.

I shot this with both artificial light as natural; for a full run-down and explanation I will guide you to my Patreon where I cover the entire topic, light set-ups and some knowledge I picked up on the road. The lights I did use on set are from broncolor, both a siros 800 and my move 1200.


Credits

Model - Larp Vision
Assistence - Nzoye, Shienra, Maki & Erik
Armor - Mytholon

Lights - broncolor
Edited in Capture One Pro & Photoshop

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When we realised the smaller smoke bombs didnt work as good, Erik went for his red ones and we decided to make the best out of our waiting by shooting on the nearby field with the available natural light. I really like the simplicy of these yet their deep storytelling and have made me realise yet again that you don’t need a crazy amount of backdrop or set if you have a great costume and styling available (or vice versa, in other cases). Shienra was our amazing assistant who harnassed the cloak so the wind could really blow into it and create that amazing flow I was looking for.

The Silver Spine

There are a few things I really wanted to do this year as part of my resolutions and one of those was expanding my service and business. Especially now I’m pursuing photography as a full-time career for almost three years now - I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented people on this earth and to be able to capture their gorgeous designs. From armor to dresses to wearable art and jewelry, pretty much you name it and I photographed it on someone.

But I can’t sit still and I’m always looking how I can expand myself and my business - and the idea of starting to incorporate “non-human” photography in my work has been on my mind for ages. So at one restless evening I decided to put things in motion. A bit before I had bought a few sheets of plexi and a mirror for some concepts I had in mind for portraiture - and I decided to use it and my broncolor gear to see what would happen if I took this gorgeous spine design by Eero Hintsanen and capture it like I would do it when a model would wear it: the light had to be pretty much perfect. And it needed some color. And I wanted to showcase all the beautiful details.

Once I got started on it - I was actually surprised on how much fun I had with this. While I still have tons to learn about it - it doesn’t feel as different as to shooting with a person as it’s all about making a beautiful composition and capturing the work.

For the actual shooting I wanted to try a few things: because the spine has such a specific look I really wanted to incorporate color into this, as it felt very otherwordly and almost like a piece straight out of a science-fiction movie. I decided for a very high key set using teal for the shadows. With the other two I wanted to explore what it would give using only white light and a reflective surface, with the other going for a very dark and monochrome theme.

The most important part for me was to explore the things I saw into my head and how I would translate this - but with the broncolor gear and some quick thinking I am actually really happy with these first results!

Currently this is becoming a quick growing part of my business and I’m already working on a ton more sessions and product shoots - so stay tuned! Video is also high on my list and I’m very excited to dive back into that as well. Really excited to share it all with you soon.

Find the blog & light diagram about this shoot here:  Wynvyre - Part 1 .   The spine worn by Luce Del Sole - Hair & Makeup by Eline Deblauwe - Dress by Maria Heller Designs - Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art.

Find the blog & light diagram about this shoot here: Wynvyre - Part 1.

The spine worn by Luce Del Sole - Hair & Makeup by Eline Deblauwe - Dress by Maria Heller Designs - Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art.


“The Silver Spine”

Piece by Eero Hintsanen
Lights provided by broncolor
Photography & Edit by Laura Sheridan / Studio Sheridan’s Art

* Click images to enlarge *