Wet -- Getting Steamy

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Page created November 11, 2014
Sitting date: 
 December 21, 2013


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 & ink.








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 caresses.








I almost have to remind Sarah & David to kiss.

I wonder -- are these images voyeristic?

In any 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 performance.

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).





It's difficult & challenging to work in the steam room, but I really do like the images created there.  Sarah & David were a pleasure to work with.


(Remember -- feedback is always appreciated) 

All images (c) 2014 Looknsee Photography

Sarah, Kissing Session

Around 180 more images from this sitting are available in the Out Takes Galleries, which are available to those who have made a donation to the upkeep of this web site.  See this FAQ question for more details.