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!
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.
If you are into glamour photography and have already tried the golden umbrella thing and similar lighting setups, you can find new inspiration from Magnus Svensson here. The keylight is a large octabox, and then you kick some light from the smaller softboxes at both sides in the background. This gives you a glamour lighting with a slight touch of beauty lighting!