Weekend martial arts photoshoot

Did a photoshoot this past Sunday with Tiara, a model from Oahu that I met through makeup artist Kahulani. We were assisted by Quddus, a cinematographer who also acted as our stunt coordinator and weapons expert.

Kat (Kahulani) wanted to do some headshots with Tiara, so initially, that was all I thought we were going to shoot. While they were doing the makeup, however, I learned that Tiara is also a martial artist and in fact was ranked #1 black belt point fighter in the North American region in 2004.

I had always wanted to do a martial arts themed shoot, and luckily I still had my swords at the studio from my last shoot. :-)

We started off doing simple headshots like this:

1/250 @f8 at ISO 100 Canon 1DmkII 7--200mm L lens

The lighting setup for this was a WL800 in a beauty dish, with a 4x6 Photoflex silver reflector to the right and a California Sunbounce Mini silver below her waist for additional fill. The background was lit with 2 AB800 with silver umbrellas. We also used a fan to add some movement to her hair.

For the next look, Kat changed the makeup to match with the silk kimono robe we had, and we added a sword for Tiara to play with. The lighting is pretty much the same as the headshot, but this time we pulled in a black curtain in the back. We replaced the 2 umbrellas on the lights in the back with 2 small strip softboxes with red gels and turned them to aim back at the model. I was trying to get a red highlight in the back of her hair to separate her from the background. Instead the effect was more subtle, making her hair look red. In hindsight, I think I should have taken off the strip softboxes and used just the reflectors with grids and the red gels to give more of a brighter specular highlight on the hair.

1/250 @f8 at ISO 100 Canon 1DmkII 70-200mm L lens

We then setup a small platform so that we could do some full length shots. We kept the same lighting in the front, but took off the red gels from the lights behind her. I also replaced the beauty dish with a medium softbox and grid.

1/250 @f8 at ISO 100 Canon 1DmkII 28-70mm L lens

Tiara's skill in martial arts is amazing. She also has this great energy which really helps when you try to nail shots like this:

1/250 @f8 at ISO 100 Canon 1DmkII 28-70mm L lens

We added an AB800 with a 7" reflector and 30 degree grid with a 1/8 CTO and mounted it on a C-stand above her to put some additional highlights in her hair. Since we were going to have her jump, we raised all the lights so that their height would match Tiara's position in the air ( and she can jump pretty high).

After a couple of practice jumps, we caught one of my favorite shots of the day:

1/250 @f8 at ISO 100 Canon 1DmkII 28-70mm L lens

All in all, it was a great shoot. I went in thinking we were just going to do some simple headshots, and we ended up with so much more.