Randall’s Island photography shoot

Written by Photography, Tania

Tania and I have been planning this shoot for quite some time now. I think she purchased the shirt and heels many weeks ago. After watching a movie, we drove down to Randall’s Island. We had a lot of gear with us. Tania brought over two shirts, sneakers, heels, jeans, flashlight, and hair clips. I had to bring my tripod, flash stand and all my camera equipment. Since we were shooting at night, I was concerned about picking up the ambient light in the background and filling in the subject with flash.

Prior to arrival, I had an agenda in mind. I wanted to start under the railroad tracks, go to a soccer field and finally end up on the southeastern part of the island. Prior to shooting, I also did some research on flash settings. I shot tripod shots normally (standard flash settings), but decided that I would use rear curtain flash on shots where my 580EX II was mounted on the camera. The shutter on any DSLR has two curtains. Basically, the first curtain opens in one direction to reveal the sensor, and then the second curtain (rear curtain) closes in the same direction the first opened. The time in between is the shutter duration. Rear curtain flash allows the 580 to fire right before the rear curtain opens. This is especially useful during long exposure shots since the camera will be able to capture the ambient light in the background, then pump some flash into the subject to freeze their motion (since the shutter speed is slow). I have to admit I was a bit anxious since I had never shot something to this magnitude, but after some trail shots I feel both Tania and I found our strong sides.

We started under the railroad tracks which run parallel to Central Road on the Island. I loved that spot since there was a tunnel-like background. It was a bit difficult to achieve the right exposure thought. Alongside technical difficulties, we also had a man pacing carelessly in the background. This made it impossible to get a good shot. I decided that I snap some shots of Tania’s shoes instead. I stet up on 580 behind her feet to fill in the floor behind her. In addition, I used my on camera flash on the 60D to fill in the shoes themselves. The 580 filling in the floor behind the shoes allowed for the shoes to be outlined by the light. Since they were black, I thought it would be more creative if I found a way to keep them from blending into the background.

Next stop for the shoot was the soccer fields. Since the fields had huge lights illuminating them, I thought it would be interesting to capture some shots on it. We got onto at around 10:30pm. We were lucky to find that it was completely empty. I set up my triggered 580EX II and tried to battle the field lights. It was a little uncomfortable. The field lights were much stronger than the lights on the bridges. Therefore the exposure was not the best. In addition, the 580 which lit Tania was a bit too strong. We spent about half an hour on the field until the lights went out. I told Tania it would be frightening if the lights went out, but it wasn’t that bad once it happened. Though we spent 30 minutes on the field, I don’t feel that any image was that good to make the post. Firstly, the lighting was uncooperative, and secondly Tania was not very enthusiastic.

After the field we headed to the southeastern part of the island. I thought this place would be interesting since there was the city skyline in the rear. Unlike previously, I felt that I should shoot with the 580 on camera. This was probably the best thing which happened all night. I think even Tania was excited to the point that the began posing. That was when the shoot got interesting. Tania gave a great facial expression and my lighting was on point. We shot some shots against the bridge, and then some against Manhattan’s skyline. Luckily, nobody was to be found on that part of the island as well. Since the park closed at midnight, we still had the right to be there, and too advantage of every moment of it. After about 80+ exposures, I decided to do some heel shots again. With the same idea in mind I set up the 580 to fill in the floor space behind the shoe. I also set up the flash to highlight her legs (first image).

Aside from some minor setbacks I loved the shoot. I loved Tania’s energy, her outfit, and most of all I loved her cooperation. I look forward to shooting again with her.

She told me that she wanted me to air brush her eyes in post production. For that reason, I gave GIMP a try. I’ve had it on my laptop but never used it. I decided to download it on my windows PC. I watched one tutorial online, and before I knew it I was retouching her face. It’s a lot easier than I thought. The process does require patience though. I will continue to use GIMP and try to learn more about it. I feel that working at a photography studio, I should be able to use Photoshop (GIMP alternative). To say the least, since I plan on shooting in the future, it would be great to develop the skill of retouching photographs. I would say I put a lot of time into retouching the images. I felt that since Tania’s energy was so great, I should make the image even better by ensuring the colors and shadows were correct.