Swimwear fashion and background lighting

Great lighting setup for swimwear fashion photography
The lighting diagram shows that the fashion model stands in the light of the reflectors and not in the direct sunlight.

Eivind Røhne gives you a new great lighting setup.

This is another shot from our fashion trip to Sardegna/Sardinia in Italy. It was a rather cold morning, and we had quite a few bikinis and bathing suits to go through, so we had to work fast. When temperatures are low like this, both the models and clients appreciate it when the photographer can work fast like this. Both on commercial, editorial and catalogue fashion, because you have a lot of stuff to get through. Most of these swimwear shots were done at Hotel Ollastu in Olbia where we stayed during the whole period. It has a lot of wonderful locations and backgrounds, and was also a great place to stay.

We placed the model behind the wall down at the bungalows, so she would be in shade from the direct sun rising to the left in the picture. At the same time the sun created some nice patterns on the stone wall of the bungalow. But the problem was that the background behind the model, with the wall and especially the door, got very dark. Too dark actually. So I started by building up a nice light around the model first. Some people seem to think; reflector = subject, but they’re excellent and effective for lighting up the environment as well. So I set up a large California Sunbounce Pro zebra reflector quite far away, out in the sun. I angled it carefully so that no light from it was hitting the model, but lit up everything else behind her instead. A reflector like this literally throws a big wall of light when placed in direct sunlight, so you have to be careful with what it hits. And the effect is tremendous. You can see the doorframe almost glowing.

Then I set up another reflector on the model. This time a California Sunbounce Mini white. I placed it just out of camera frame, and angled it so it lit up her face and upper body. Her legs got some reflections from the light colored stone ground.

I metered the light on her face with my Sekonic L-358, and got f/5.6 and 1/60 at ISO 100. Shot on a medium format digital Hasselblad with a 210mm lens.

Really love reflectors and natural light in my fashion work!


White fashion photography on the beach

The reflector really gives a lot of light. Perfect for outdoor fashion photography.
Lighting diagram for outdoor fashion photography, using a single reflector.

Norwegian photographer Eivind Røhne tells us about about this fashion photography lighting:

As a fashion photographer shooting a lot of stuff outdoors, I often prefer to use the soft light in the shadows. And my clients as well. Then we shape and tweak the light to get it how we want it to look. We use reflectors, speedlights or mobile studio lighting kits. Or maybe all of them. But sometimes we want a different look and feel to the fashion photographs we make.

This fashion magazine client of mine often likes to have a white clothing series in their editorials every year. And this white stuff we like to do in direct sunlight. This time it was on a beach in Sardegna/Sardinia in Italy. We shot a complete editorial quite fast during what usually is considered lunch time; harsh sunlight with lots of shadows. Fortunately we didn’t have a clear blue sky, but we got some clouds that gave us a little bit of texture in the background.

I immediately saw that this could be a cool before and after picture because of the tremendous effect of the reflector. So I asked the editor of the magazine, Mary-Ann – also known as “The Grey Card Lady”, to just tilt the reflector away on one of the shots. She’s a wonderful lady, and did what I asked without asking why, and then we kept on shooting. She was holding a 1×2 meter California Sunbounce half silver/gold reflector a couple of meters away from the model, directing the harsh sunlight back towards the model. And as you can see, a reflector this size can literally light up the whole place. The light was so intense that even the professional model had a hard time looking in its direction for too long without short breaks.

I had taken a few test shots as well as a reading with my Sekonic handheld meter, to get the exposure right so that I would still have some texture in the sky, and a perfect exposure on the models skin and white clothes. Being careful not to lose those whites! Both of these shots here where shot at f/8 and 1/100 second and ISO 50 on a medium format digital Hasselblad with a 210mm lens.

Amazing what a single reflector can do to light up your life!


Lighting setup for swimwear fashion photography

Everyday is a good day for a swimwear photo session. Even if the daylight is a bit dull.
Swimwear fashion photo session behind the scenes

Photographer Eivind Røhne gives you a great lighting setup for swimwear fashion photography:

A lot of the fashion stuff I do is photographed abroad, especially since Norway is a rather cold place in November when we often do new spring and summer fashion stuff. This is for a magazine I work with, and this time we travelled to Malta. We try to utilize the time as best we can, and shoot constantly during the time we’re there. We manage to get a lot of stuff done rather quickly, and that’s great for a magazine. Time is money. And to do that you have to work as light, easy and fast as you can. So most of the time we use California Sunbounce reflectors and also diffusors.

It was a bit cloudy this early morning, with no direct sunlight on the model. Unfortunately the swimming pool at our hotel wasn’t heated, and even though it may look warm, the water was only about 14 degrees Celsius. And when a model has to do 40 swimsuits in cold water, I try to work as fast and easy as possible. A happy model is a good model!

The hidden sun is behind the model to the right in the picture, as you can see from the glow on the skin. To fill in the front side of the model, I used a California Sunbounce mini (with zebra or half gold color as you could call it) right in front of her. I put it at an angle, resting on my camera bag. The model stood about a meter in front of it, stepping in and out of the pool with 40 swimsuits. The light was metered with a handheld Sekonic, to get an accurate reading of the light falling on the model, without the camera being tricked by the lighter background. At ISO 50 I got f/5 and 1/125 secs, and it was all shot on a medium format digital Hasselblad.

As you can see from the behind-the-scenes picture, the light is actually rather dull with no punch or contrast, but the reflector did an amazing job of giving us beautiful soft light.

Hot fashion

A hot senorita in Oslo.
Variations in the lighting setup gives a more punchy expression
Lighting diagram for hot fashion

Norwegian photographer Eivind Røhne gives you a great case studie of hot fashion.

This fashion shoot was for an Italian client, but done here in Oslo (Norway) in the middle of the summer. The theme for this editorial was ”hot”, and my inspiration came from old westerns, with those great looking desert and their deadly hot temperatures. And of course from those hot and exciting Mexican senoritas!

I used the low evening sun of summer about 45 degrees left of my camera, and put up an Elinchrom 600W lamp with a big Octa shaped softbox in the opposite direction of the sun. Or else the model would just be a silhouette. I metered the existing light so the sky would blow out in the areas close to the sun, but keep details in the rest of the blue sky. Then I metered up the Elinchrom to fill in the opposite side of the sun, but not as powerful as the sunlight. Maybe a stop or so below if I remember right. I also had an assistant holding a reflector to fill in some of the shadows in between. Plus, I had an assistant holding an ordinary black umbrella between the sun and my camera, so I could control the amount of sunlight hitting my lens. As you can see from these two shots, one is controlled and punchy, and the other is more hazy and with less contrast. The punchy one is a result of the umbrella being held so that no light reached my lens. The other one, with that fantastic hot summer haze and less contrast, is because the assistant was holding the umbrella so that a little bit of sunlight reached my lens. Not much, just a little.

The whole shoot was shot with a 22mp Hasselblad digital medium format camera tethered to a laptop. Everything from the lighting, laptop, and all the utilities of the hair dressers and the makeup artist was powered by a portable 1200w petrol generator. The model was prepared in a salon before travelling to the shoot, and the rest of the hair and makeup was done on location. Aaahh the great outdoors!

Photographer Eivind Røhne

Norwegian photographer Eivind Røhne

Lighting for photo: – Who are you and where are you from?

Eivind Røhne: – I’m an enthusiastic and energetic photographer from Oslo in Norway, and I’m currently living just 10 minutes out of central Oslo. I’m a professional fashion, people, portrait and wedding photographer, but sometimes I do other stuff as well. Like when someone needs some crazy guy hanging out of a Ferrari or something with a camera at 60 mph for an editorial, they don’t have to ask me twice. My clients are mainly Norwegian, but I also have several clients from around the globe. Even though Oslo and Norway is my main base, I do photoshoots around the world. Sometimes (=very often…) the weather in Norway just isn’t right, so lots of fashion stuff is done abroad.

Lighting for photo: – Any websites or blogs?

Eivind Røhne: – My main website is beyondtheice.no. I redesigned it just in time for summer, and an English version is hopefully coming out soon. It’s mainly pictures though, and pictures speak louder than words. I’ve also got a blog at fotografeivindrohne.blogspot.com with behind the scenes stuff, news from photoshoots, samples etc. The blog’s only in Norwegian. I used to have an English version as well, but didn’t have the time to keep two blogs updated at all times. But if you don’t read Norwegian, this is a great chance to learn!

Lighting for photo: – How old are you?

Eivind Røhne: – I’m a classic! A model -68 that is…

Lighting for photo: – How long have you been into photography?

Eivind Røhne: – Professionally I started out in the late 90’s, but I’ve been a keen photographer since childhood. Started out with fantastic film cameras from Pentax and Hasselblad, and also spent my time in those smelly darkrooms. Charming, at least when you could combine the smell of chemicals with a class of good red wine. But then one day in January 2005, I borrowed a 22 megapixel digital medium format Hasselblad and I was just hooked! I borrowed it for some time, tested it on several assignments, and ended up buying one. Had to wait until early summer 2005 before it was delivered though. I think I was one of the very first here in Norway to have one, and it really beat the crap out of everything else digital at that time. I’ve been fully digital since, apart for some personal projects and art that I still shoot on medium format film.

Lighting for photo: – What is your dream assignment?

Eivind Røhne: – It would be cool doing a big fashion story with cover and everything for Vogue of course, or a major campaign from one of the really big designer houses. None mentioned – none forgotten, so feel free to get in touch anyone! Or maybe get to travel around the globe to meet and photograph the 10 most important leaders of our time my way. Or for something more local, it would be cool to shoot the next fashion campaign for two Norwegian designers called “Moods of Norway”. They design really cool stuff, and basically just seem like great guys to work with.

Lighting for photo: – Who is your favorite photographer?

Eivind Røhne: – It’s really very hard to name a favorite photographer. I’m influenced by a lot of imagery, and it’s the images that impress and inspire me, more than the persons doing them. But I enjoy the work from people like Penn, Avedon, Bailey, Newton, Testino and LaChapelle. And also a bunch of the good old painters and artists like Rembrandt, Michelangelo and Da Vinci.

Lighting for photo: – What is the most common beginner mistake when it comes to lighting?

Eivind Røhne: – I think the most common mistake is that people think they need to buy lots of lighting stuff, and many people over-light things as well. My goal is not to overcomplicate things, but rather solve them the best way I can, with the least amount of equipment. Sometimes you can do wonders with a bit of tin-foil, a white piece of cloth, or one small flash unit. I think it’s more how you see the light and position yourself with the camera, than how many watts you can throw at the subject.

Lighting for photo: – What is your favorite lighting setup?

Eivind Røhne: – I don’t really have one. It all depends on the job and the mood I want to create. But I really do love natural lights with reflectors and stuff, and maybe also mixing it with some flash.

Lighting for photo: – What is your worst photo experience?

Eivind Røhne: – I have had 3-4 times in the studio when the freakin’ Hasselblad digital camera systems have just given up, and I’ve had to get dealer support at times when they’re really not meant to be that supportive… It’s no fun when a camera system costing more than a car just gives up on you with the client and a big team present. I’ve never had any other cameras breaking down but the digital Hasselblads. Not my current digital Nikons, or any other digital camera either by the way… Money really doesn’t buy you reliability if you ask me. Just lots of pixels and an aching back…

Lighting for photo: – What’s your future plans?

Eivind Røhne: – I get a lot of tips from others that I should get myself an agent. So if anyone knows of any good agents, or any good agents reads this, feel free to get in touch!