A Guide to Fairy Land

We haven’t been posting for quite some time as we were busy with a number of studio shoots for our client’s upcoming product releases (we also took a short break to Chiang Mai but that’s another story). Anyway, now let’s share with you what we did for L’zzie‘s Summer shoot!

It was a fine Sunday morning. We had recced the place a couple of times before and the place that day was no different. Weather was good and not too hot.

As asked by a reader what we bring to our shoots the other day, here’s a list of what we brought:
#whatsinourbags #incaseyouwanttodothesameshoottoo

  1. 2 x nikon d800
  2. 2 x sb900/910
  3. 2 x reflectors (the cheap and good 5 in 1 type that’s selling for $25 a pop)
  4. Nikon 24-70 2.8
  5. Sigma 35 1.4 Art
  6. Nikon 85 1.8G
  7. 2 x fake clouds with carrying handle
  8. Mini rainbow that hovers and stands on it own (some knowledge in sorcery required)
  9. Many crates and stacks of hay (Yup, we brought our own CRATES AND HAY. Unfortunately, stables these days don’t have crates and blocks of hay lying around for you anymore)
  10. Fairy godmother (to turn the pony into a unicorn with golden horn.)
  11. 1 x white pony (finally)

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For our outdoor shoots, we don’t fancy using big lighting setups due to a mix of reasons – Client’s preference for soft lighting, location restriction (it’s a public area), short duration (we had 4 hours to finish this job including setup & doing makeup), volatile weather, etc. We try to shoot as early as possible. For this shoot, we started at 7:30 am. It was actually already awfully bright at that time!

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The backlit effect is all natural. The morning sun was right at the angle where it lights up from behind the models. We had to rush against time to get the shot done before the sun moved out of position. Two reflectors were used to light up the model’s face slightly.

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We finished the first scene and quickly moved on to the next one – this scene is actually just 10 steps away from the first! Although we thought that everything was going to be ‘chop chop’ (fast in Singlish), it’s tough when you are facing a disgruntled pony.

We had fairy godmother to help bestow the golden horn upon the pony, albeit a wobbly one, so that he looked like a unicorn. The shot had to be done quickly as the pony was kinda hard to direct especially if you are not a pony-whisperer!

Oh, before I forget about the technical bits. Horses are afraid of thunder / lighting so no flashes allowed at close distance! We leveraged on the natural lighting here again and used our reflectors to soften the shadows.

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Eventually we survived the scene with not much fuss from our fuzzy friend. The models were excited and eager to work with the cute guy. Styling was superb, thanks to our prop-maker / stylist / art-director / window display / store manager at L’zzie.

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Now progressing to the third scene. We were 1.5 hours away from the timeout alarm bells. Weather was starting to look not all that good anymore. We had a small drama with our dear fuzzy friend while taking this shot. He was afraid of thunder and he hadn’t got his thunder buddy there. He picked up his hoofs and reared before turning back to his cozy cubicle. The trainer had to coax him back in the end. Took quite a while but we still managed to get the shot in the end! Tick tock tick tock. The time left was down to 45 mins.

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While the pony went for his short break, we took the time to harvest a few more pickup shots.

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And… finally we reached the last scene. So far so good except that it had started to drizzle slightly and there were a number of passerbys taking photos of us as well. We had to finish this before it rained and before the crowd built up!

There wasn’t much natural light anymore at this moment. And using a flash was out of question with Mr Fuzzy around unless we wanted him to start rearing again. We did it with just the 85mm and called it a wrap within 15 mins. Time at this point was just nice! 11:05! OK maybe not really on time. We overshot by 5 mins but it’s not too bad considering the scenes we had to rush through!

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Time for gear talk again.

For this shoot, beside the 85mm and the reflectors, we barely used the rest of the equipments we had brought along. The 85mm is surprisingly good for its price. (we bought it for SGD 580). With fast and accurate focusing, it also gives the shallow DOP when we need it. It used to be the primary lens we used for studio shoots as well. Really, really sharp and when we first transitioned from the 50mm 1.8G to the 85mm 1.8G, even our clients noticed the difference while reviewing the shots. But please don’t judge the sharpness using the photos here as they have been downsized via facebook so it’s not that sharp if you zoom in!

Bokeh-wise, it looks fine as long as you avoid tall grass and fences. Even if those situations are unavoidable, it’s not as bad as the 50mm 1.8G. That one has a horrible swirly bokeh (we personally don’t like swirly bokehs).

That’s all for gear talk on this post. We recently bought the Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art to replace the one with swirly bokeh. Hopefully we’ll get to talk about it soon in the next few posts. And.. as usual, if you are a client / potential client interested in our services, please reach out to us – thedottyones@gmail.com

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