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Friday, March 20, 2015


Wow this has been an amazing week!  My friend and model Arley won first place in swimwear on a Global Stars Network cruise competition!  It looks like all of her hard work is paying off because this is her second first place finish in swimwear in the last few months!  Arley is a great model, who besides moving well and knowing how to pose, she’s just a great person that is polite, shows up on time, and works hard on and off set.  She’s fun too!  Thanks Arley and congrats again!!!

These are two of my favorite photos from our most recent session with Arley, and we were blessed with having the amazing Sydney Ross on set for hair and makeup, which is always a treat!  The three of us came in on the Sunday before Arley set sail for her cruise competition so that she could get some extra practice and get a little more comfortable modeling swimsuits and lingerie.  But of course she was already awesome and didn’t need much practice at all!  We made lots of great photos that I’ll share over the next month, so stay tuned!

So many ways this week has been awesome:
I mentioned this was an awesome week!  Besides Arley’s win, the new Kendrick Lamar album dropped a week earlier than expected (on Monday) and this album does not disappoint at all.  It will likely be in the running for album of the year and definitely nominated for best rap album of the year.  I also helped out with a film shoot for the Art House Cinema and Pub on Monday, which had it’s grand opening this week (another huge bonus for Billings this week).  Art House is a pub theater that will also be a hub for local artists, and it was fun to help out.  Another treat was receiving my new camera, the Sony A7ii, as well as a new Zeiss lens, the Loxia 35mm f/2 manual focus lens and I’ve already been putting them to work.  Lastly, my wife got some great news from a publisher that is interested in her book.  To top it off the weather has been great, we’ve been smoking ribs, chickens and pork loins on our smoker all week, and going for hikes on the rims with our dogs.  Wow, we are so blessed!

Tips for photographers:  Before I get to the lighting techniques for these photos, I think the best tip from this shoot is to have a good team on set for any given shoot.  For this shoot there were three of us in my little studio, and that was the perfect number of people for a lingerie shoot in a small space.   Having too many people on hand can clutter up the small studio quickly, and it can get distracting for the photographer and model.  We had Sydney Ross doing hair and makeup in the studio and she was on set for the shooting to make sure everything looked great.  It’s nice having an extra set of eyes that you trust on set.  At most I’d add only one extra person, an assistant.

Lighting info: The first photo is lit with two 4ft softboxes stacked on top of each other out of frame to camera left just a couple of feet in front of Arley.  The light behaves like an 8 foot softbox with two strobes, and the result is super soft, full body light.  Some of the light is spilling onto the gray background, which is otherwise dark in the absence of a dedicated background light.  There are no fill light on Arley’s shadow side, no reflectors out of frame to camera right, just a black wall that absorbs the light from the soft boxes and prevents it from bouncing back onto Arley, leaving her shadow side profile in silhouette.  The separation from her shadow side and the background is entirely created by the little bit of light spilling onto the background from the softboxes (hint, it’s important to put some light on your backgrounds!).  The second photo is lit with a large window out of frame camera right and two large 8 foot white reflectors out of frame camera left bouncing the soft light back onto Arley’s shadow side.  My black curtains are opened in such a way as to create a 4 foot wide bank of light about a foot in front of Arley so that she is being lit with feathered light spilling around the edge of the curtains.  There is some additional fill coming from behind me as there is another 4 foot bank of windows that are diffused with white cloth to produce a very soft front fill (the second window bank is about 12 feet in front of Arley, right behind me to camera right).  I used a tripod so that I could slow down my shutter speed and catch a little motion blur (shot at 1/40th f/2.5 ISO 160 with the Zeiss 55 f/1.8 on the Sony A7 body).

I am Billings Montana portrait photographer, Paul Bellinger and I take the art of portraiture seriously.  It would be my honor to make your portrait.  http://www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

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