I've been very busy this summer with photo shoots, and I'm super-pleased with the images I'm getting. I'm overdue telling you about them, so let's remedy that, starting with a shoot I did mid-July with Astrid Kallsen.
You'll recall that we shot together in March in Seattle's Discovery Park, where we got some fantastic images on the beach, some of which are already performing well in the photographic salons. I had told her at the time that I'd love to shoot again, this time in the mountains, if she came back to the area in the summer months. She did, so we did!
I've been wanting to shoot at this site for a long time, impeded only by the challenge of finding models willing to make the trek on a challenging trail. As it turns out, I got lucky and found two such adventurers, one (Astrid) to shoot in the morning light, the other (Jessa Ray Muse) to shoot in the evening. I'll tell you about Jessa in a future post.
For this location, the challenge is being there when the light is best. If you're out shooting on a flat plain, of course, you can easily look up when the sunrise or sunset is, and reliably predict that the light will be best during the golden hour around those two times. But this site is in a north-south oriented canyon, with high cliff walls rising up on the west and east. For the first hours after sunrise, the sun may be "up," but from the perspective of someone inside the canyon, the light has not risen over the canyon wall to the east, and the shooting location within the canyon is still in shadow. That's not necessarily a bad thing, if you want images of a dark silhouette against the backdrop of a bright mountain (lit by the sun because it rises above the canyon), but it's not the images I was looking for.
Fortunately there's a great tool available to photographers called "The Photographer's Ephemeris" which allows you to pick a spot on the globe and to see exactly where the sun and the moon will be relative to that location at any point in time. Furthermore, you can pick a spot on the surrounding landscape and see how high the sun needs to be in the sky to be visible above it. That allowed me to predict with confidence that the high point where I wanted to shoot would be touched by light about 8:30 in the morning, and then to work backward from that to plan when Astrid and I should meet in order to drive and hike there. And when the time came, like magic, that spot lit up precisely on schedule!
Of course, by the time the light appeared, it was no longer golden hour, and the sun was higher in the sky than ideal -- but that's the only option available other than shooting in shadow when you're down in a canyon and want to shoot with natural light.
And as expected, Astrid was amazing! Her poses are fantastic in outdoor settings, so compelling; the angles she creates with her long, lithe body mirror well the long slopes and ridgelines of Mount Rainier and the Nisqually Canyon. The wildflowers were beginning to come on strong, and the moraine rocks added additional foreground interest.
I shot with three different lenses: a 35mm Canon lens for basic wide angle landscape shots; a 14mm Rokinon lens for super-wide angles that expand the horizon and make the model a smaller element within a larger setting; and a 70-200mm Canon lens that allows me to pull the background in close so that it looks like Astrid could almost reach out and touch the craggy ice of the glaciers behind her.
We shot at the aforementioned high point, then came back down the ridge to a jumble of rocks, which honestly turned out to be some of the best photos of all in my opinion, with Astrid's pale, smooth body surrounded by the rugged, textured rocks. Her red hair stood out well in that setting, too. (Honestly, I can't imagine any body type or skin tone that wouldn't look fantastic in this spot.)
We were mildly plagued by mosquitoes, and Astrid donated some blood to our artistic cause, along with the sweat of an arduous climb on an unmaintained trail. She was a trooper and never hesitated. I think the photos speak for themselves to demonstrate how fully worth it the effort was.