Equipment for photographing the Artist’s Model

This is the third post in a series on my experiences photographing people for artistic reference. Note: I’m not trying to sell or making any profit on anyone’s products that I suggest!

I have always used the simplest equipment to get the best results. For many years I  used a Sony 7.2 M Cyber Shot digital camera.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 5.29.31 PM
Sony Cyber Shot

When I started joining photo sessions to shoot models at photography studios I had to upgrade to a digital SLR camera. Participating meant you snapped a transmitter on your camera which would trip the studio lights every time you took a picture. So I upgraded to a Canon Digital Rebel XT. It’s an easy camera to use, I’ve been very happy with it. As time goes by, these cameras have new models with more pixels per inch, but for my purpose, getting a clear, sharp 5″ x 7″ print is all that’s needed.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 5.43.09 PM
Canon Digital Rebel XT

 

 

The only extra attachment I have is the 70-300 mm USM Telephoto lens, which was a great investment.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 6.57.54 PM

The photo below was taken from a cliff hundreds of feet away from the subject with this lens.

bucket
The Subject Photo

pain7The photo above, another beach shot from so far away, they never knew it! (notice the flip phone, this was taken awhile ago).

va010I caught this young woman in a rose garden in Portland, she never saw it coming!

IMG_2321

This one taken from 50 feet away, I love this lens!

Another piece of equipment that I sometimes use is a Chromalux Light for indoor shots.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 7.21.46 PM

The only other thing that I use is a tripod for my camera.

Camera Tripod
Camera Tripod

 

When shooting picture indoors, it’s surprising how dark it is. Even with the Chromalux lamp, the camera shutter has to be open for a long time to get the light into the lens. When this happens it is virtually impossible to hold the camera steady enough, your pictures will end up looking like the one below-

steph
photo with no tripod

That’s it! In the next post I’ll talk about setting the scene(s).

Advertisements

Photographing the Artist’s Model, preparing the props

This is a part of a series on finding and photographing models for Artist’s reference. I’ve found like most things, the more I prepare, the more I’m going to get out of it.

The Inspiration

This is truly my favorite part, maybe better than working on the painting, because at this point, I’m a genius, I can do anything, I’m going to really create something special! Searching for inspiration, the magazine section of any large book retailer like Barnes and Nobel is a Disneyland of visual stimulation. I can find photos of everything from Cooks to Cowboys. A publication I really like for ideas is Belle Armoire magazine.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 2.47.19 PMAnother source of inspiration can be catalogs. A favorite of mine is the catalog for Free People clothing.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 6.41.01 PM Finding a direction

I limit my photo taking sessions to 1 and a half- 2 hours max, so a focus is important to get as much accomplished in that time as possible. In this 2 hour time frame I limit the clothing changes to three.

Keeping your model in mind, begin tearing pages out of your magazines and catalogs, tape them to a wall. Now reality kicks in… which looks could I create the essence of? I could definitely use the pony tail wrap, the funky sweater could be purchased at  GoodWill , plus hot glue on some fabric scraps. The look on the right; some drapes from the thrift store or an old bed spread , some fake fur from Joann’s and a trusty hot glue gun.

Note: again I’m talking about the essence of the photo, not copying it. These props are for your photos, they can even be held together with double stick tape. It’s the clothes and props that set the mood. If you can sew , all the better. The outfit on the model below; a piece of fabric knotted and hot glued for the headband, sleeves cut off an old shirt for gloves, I made the dress from an old maxi skirt brought up and  stitched to a tank top.

IMG_0746

 

I always like to ask the model if she has something special or unusual to bring. The hair stylist in the previous post was a belly dancer too, who knew, she brought her entire costume! Another model, the young woman below had her own Victorian dress.

10-21-02a 050

 

In the next post I’m going to talk about staging the photos, my camera and lighting.

 

Location, Location, Location

This is part of several blog posts that share my experience over the years with finding, setting up and taking photos of people for my paintings. In this post I’m going to talk about the places I like to use to take these photos.

note; It would be nice to have live models to paint from, but most of the time it’s just not realistic. The cost of hiring someone for 4 or 5 days is cost prohibitive, and down right boring to many people. A good balance for me is to attend a life drawing session regularly. A good one here in Las Vegas is at the Summerlin Art Group. What I learn from life drawing can be infuse into the photo images.

1. Parks

Outdoors has always been a favorite of mine. And parks tops my outdoor list. Spring Mountain State Park is 30 minutes from Las Vegas, with trails, trees and historic buildings, it’s a great pick.

Painting at Spring Mountain Ranch by Diane Eugster
My Painting from a photo at Spring Mountain Park

Many home developers have common area parks with stone bridges, water features etc. If there isn’t a gate, why not use the scenery in your own photos?

Local parks are another great choice. Sometimes this is a good alternative if your model doesn’t know you very well and would feel more comfortable meeting at a public place for your photo shoot.

2. Home

There’s no place like home – in the next few days, walk around inside your home with an eye for painting scenarios. Think small, it only takes a corner of a room with the light streaming in to make some drama. Your couch looking a little tired?, throw a quilt on it for a different painterly effect? It might be surprising the special areas in your home that would lend themselves to scenes.

3. Your Backyard

We have desert landscaping, with some vines growing on the stucco walls. The photo below looks like a garden, but it’s just staged in a small pocket of greenery

My photo
My photo
Painting in my backyard by Diane Eugster
My Painting

3. Borrow a Backyard

That’s right you might have a friend or relative with a green thumb, they would probably be flattered that you wanted to use their yard in one of your paintings.

photo for  painting
My Mother-in-laws Garden

4. Your Model’s Home

The great thing about this is, being in their own home, your model is more likely to be relaxed, a relaxed model is a good model. You may discover things there that you never dreamed of putting in a painting before. The Model below had some fabulous tapestries in her home –

photo by Diane Eugster
The photo in front of one of her tapestries

My next post we’ll talk about how I get myself and the model ready for a shoot-

How to Make Your Friends into Your Models

The other day someone asked me how I find the models for my paintings and photograph them? Over the years I’ve found what works best for me and thought I would share this process in next several blog post.

Finding Models, the most extraordinary people can be found in the most ordinary places.

This young woman was the hair stylist where I use to get my hair cut…

Ange1
The Photo
DreamRedlres
The Painting

In most cities, on-line you can find Meetup groups. Look for photography sessions that you can get in on. I joined a one night photo shoot, this was one of the models –

Ali
The Model Photo
The Painting
The Painting

Places I’ve found “models” are, the gym, neighbors, the clerk at the grocery store, co-workers and family of co-workers. While at a Christmas get together for my husband John’s work, a fellow teacher introduced me to his daughter, which I knew would make a striking model.

Ky
The Photo
Stormy
The Painting

How about yourself? I’ve posed for many of my paintings with the help of a timer and tripod.

I posed for this, who would know?
I posed for this, who would know?

Renaissance Fairs are one of my favorite place, I don’t need to ask, everyone expects to be photographed.

IMG_159
Age of Chivalry Painting

I’ve found some great and willing subjects at the a local horse riding stable, Cowboy Trail Rides.

cowboy1

It might seem kind of awkward at first, to ask someone to be your model, but many people are surprisingly willing. It’s easier if you already know the person and they have some knowledge of your artistic pursuits. But even on the spot, like the cowboy above, many people get a kick out of being photographed. Give it a try!

In the next post I’ll cover how I prepare them and choose a location-

 

 

 

Color Choices

nickblog1This photo I took of a neighbor girl had a lot of things going for it, but color wasn’t one of them. Color is a very personal thing, and personally this was too dark and dull for the youthful quality I wanted in my painting .

I decided to exercise my artistic license and make new color choices by replacing the existing colors with corals, pinks and pale green tones.

Simpler-blog1
On to the value sketches, I soon realize a high key value pattern would work best, I will work with the one on the right.
Simpler-blogb
A couple quick color studies helped guide me in the right direction. I’m always drawn to cool color schemes so I needed to get the one on the left out of the way, to say to myself, “I told you this wouldn’t work”. The one on the right will be very helpful in finding my way.
Simpler-blog3
Getting the block in finished, I’m happy with how things are coming along. This is the time I like to spend a day with the painting visible to me while I do other things, so that I can better judge what I need to do.
After a day I can see the shadow in the upper right is too dark, also the red is too intense and draws attention away from the main focus. More refining and I’ve arrived at the core of what I wanted the image to say.
Simple-final-lr

 

 

 

What a Difference a Museum Makes

Over the weekend my husband John and I, had the opportunity to visit the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena California

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 4.51.46 PM
Women Ironing, 1884, Edgar Degas

What struck me was the large collection of Edgar Dégas oil and pastel paintings there.

 It was interesting to get up close and personal with those paintings, really look into all the wonderful layering of color on color on color, the end result being indescribably beautiful.
When I got home, the goal on my next painting was to layer some intense, unexpected colors together and just see what would happen.
blog-thumbnails
 I started with some simple color studies just to get a feeling of what direction I wanted to take, then I did my “predictable beginning” , just starting with any color to block the masses in and get something started.
blog2block
Then I had some fun, seeing what paint would do. I was tempted to use burnt umber and sienna for the warm brown background but I reminded myself the point was to use bright color to achieve muted tones and shades, so I chose Cadmium Red light, Cadmium Orange and Viridian. I used the same mixture for the hair, plus white for the skin tones. I did sneak in Naples Yellow and Ivory Black in smaller amounts.
blog3block
I’ve painted this model before and I’ve always been bored with the outcome. But this time, not being concerned with the things, i.e. a dress, a chair a fold in the backdrop, but how “the things” existed as shapes in space, how one shape reacted to the shape next to it. I was much happier with the results .
Yellow-Dress-lr

 

Welcome to my Struggle-

My previous post described how I begin a new painting, here what’s next-

 

hat-blog1

At this point I can learn a lot from my painting if I ask the right questions.

Is the eye path or movement the way I had envisioned? Is there anything distracting from the flow?

-I can see that the dark area at the bottom is way too overpowering for the top area. Seem like it’s weighing the painting down. I need to lift things upward.
-The girl blends with the background too much, more contrast needed there.
-The dark hat is not interesting enough. It commands  attention way up there at the top, but just doesn’t deserve it. There’s a need for more color intensity or dynamic shape, or a pattern…all viable  options…
hat4lr
Getting closer… I even signed it, but things are still not right. At times like this I go to my computer desktop.
During the week I go to Pinterest, grab onto inspirational paintings that I admire and put them on my desktop to study throughout the week. Taking an image of my painting and shuffling it in amongst the others usually will make a painting in need scream out for help. See below –
Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 12.06.44 PM
There’s mine in the middle, it is becoming more obvious that –
1. The contrast in the upper areas is too weak
2. Her hand, in that position is not working, interrupting that upwards flow
3. The top of her leg is too light, fracturing the upper body from the lower
some other minor things and…
hat5lr
After the changes, I think this is an improvement.