|One problem with being on semi-hiatus is
that when I do try to pick the camera up, I tend to get
excited. When I get excited, I tend to play it safe.
When I play it safe, I use carefully crafted lighting.
The studio lighting on the previous page,
Dry -- Getting Started, was "safe":
both sides of the each model were lit, and one model did not
cast a shadow onto another.
Well, okay, then.
If the studio setup is carefully crafted, working in the
steam room is always abstract. One can't quite control
the effect of the steam, the space is cramped & constrained,
and the lighting is particularly challenging. Pretty
much all images made in the steam room become abstract, and
that is a large amount of the appeal to working in there.
I also am interested in seeing how these abstract images
look under my new favorite artistic effect -- the airbrush &
||It's not just the
abstraction of the steam that makes these images outside
of my comfort zone. The steam is created by
running the hot water through the shower head in the
steam room, with the steam room glass door closed.
(It's vitally important to all of us to keep the
electronics dry & the models wet). But with the
door closed, the running water makes a good deal of
noise, which is amplified by the hard surfaces of the
stone tiles in the steam room. Basically, the
models can't hear me very well.
Normally, we talk
together while we make exposures. Here, I tell the
models the sorts of things I want to see before we close
the door & turn on the water, and they move. Sure,
I can shout, and sure, we can crack the door slightly
for a little communication, but for the most part, the
models are on their own.
I think this is a
good thing much of the time. The models can
pretend to be more isolated & private -- of course, the
firing of the strobes remind them that exposures are
being made, but I think their movements become a little
more intimate here in the steam room, with more
I almost have to remind Sarah & David to kiss.
wonder -- are these images voyeristic?
case, I am always looking for alternate interpretations
for my images. Ansel Adams is one of the most
famous photographers in history, but he was also a
classically trained musician. He equates the
negative (or the RAW digital image) to a musical score,
and the final print (or photo-edited image) is the
Because of how I learned
photography, I am often cropping images. Below is
a different interpretation of this same image.
||The steam & the condensation on the
glass makes these images abstract, but let's also
acknowledge that the warm water that is splashing on the
models makes these images sensuous. Sarah & David are
inspired to touch each other.
There is one point I
want to make. Photographing couples is difficult,
because you want to create an atmosphere of intimacy.
Sarah & I were predisposed to trust each other. How?
We know mutual models -- friends & colleagues of hers who
have met me, and each of us were recommended highly to the
other. A good recommendation from someone I know goes
a long ways for me.
So, to the other photographers
out there -- assume that every model you meet will in turn
talk with every potential model you will ever meet.
Treat all models well, and with respect, even if you can't
arrange a session with them. Word gets around, and
it's a great thing when models give you good references.
|The camera tends to focus on the
condensation on the glass window to the steam room, but
the steam itself tends to fog the details of the wall
behind the models. On that wall is a reproduction
of a "Three Muses" sculpture -- it is white & provides a
good tonal separation with the models themselves.
However, because of the steam in the steam room, all
details of that wall -- the sculpture and the stone
tiles -- is lost.
Interesting things also happen
when models press themselves up against the glass wall.
(You are looking at Sarah's hands, aren't you?)
Just fyi -- we run the shower head with hot water to
generate the steam. There actually is a steam
generator in the steam room, but if we run it, two
things would happen -- we'd get too much steam, and the
temperature in the steam room would rise to over a
hundred degrees. The shower head is plenty to keep
the models warm & wet.
Their kissing becomes a little less chaste and a
little more passionate.
|We ran out of momentum in the steam
room, so we switch things around. I place Sarah &
David under the big honkin' shower head in the shower
proper. This head pumps four times more water than a
normal shower head. In order to get enough distance, I
prop open the door of the steam room, sit on a pad of
towels, and photograph into the shower. Where these
two folks are standing is where the light stand & strobe was
when we were working with them in the steam room. Of
course, the lights have been moved out of the shower, and
the strobe head is behind that wall that you can barely see
in the background -- the strobe light is bouncing off the
white wall in the bathroom. Since I'm using Pocket
Wizards to fire the strobes wirelessly, I figure all
electronics are sufficiently isolated from the wet stuff.
That shower head pumps out a lot of water, and the
strobe freezes it as it falls. We try a few exposures
this way, but I'm not as excited by these images.
We'll have to figure out a better (and safe) way to light
people in the shower, under the big shower head. (Or
maybe I'm just getting tired).