Em(ily)

Em hates being called Emily. I do it anyway because I like it.

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My first encounter with Em was in January 2010. I’d just taken on a new job as photographer at a club in Oshawa called Junction. That’s when I ran into this group of young ladies…

Beautiful gals, all of them, but of all the people I photographed that evening, Em stood out for some reason.

Fast forward a month to February 2010. Junction again.

Well look who it is! Em again. I recognized her from the first time I shot her but didn’t say anything. Running into her twice in two months was more than my tiny brain could handle.

“I must photograph this girl,” I muttered.

Fast forward to November 2010. The Facebook app on my BlackBerry lights up. Friend request from Em… what?!

How did she find me? How does she know who I am? Let’s fire up Facebook Chat and find out.

Turns out we had a mutual friend who was singing my praises as a photographer, and Em wanted to check out my photos, hence the friend request. She had no clue that I photographed her at Junction twice.

After a few months of back and forth communication, we got ourselves together for a little photoshoot in February 2011, exactly one year and one day after our second “meeting”.

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Em is an avid viewer of America’s Next Top Model, so she was ready to pose up a storm for me despite not having the unrealistic body proportions on display on that show. Em looks like a real woman, which makes me happy.

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It’s so nice sometimes to just hit up the studio with a willing model, a casual wardrobe, and windows streaming with daylight. All of these were shot without any artificial light sources. The tried and true 50mm f/1.8 lens was used for each of the non-club shots. It’s a lens I hadn’t pulled out of my bag in a while — I started out the shoot using my disappointing 70-200mm f/2.8 but quickly switched to the 50mm for something different.

The Junction Nightclub

A few months back, DJ Storm of Oshawa club Junction emailed me to ask if I could come out that way to take some pictures on their Sexxy Saturday club nights. Shooting in a club presents a huge assortment of challenges, the most difficult of which is the low light levels. Creating light where there’s none is not the easiest thing in the world.

The DJ booth is a good place to stake out the joint and figure out where my best vantage points will be throughout the night. It also affords some cool photo ops:

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Even though the disco ball, LEDs, and other lights provide for some nifty effects, their levels are all very low. The above picture was shot with the camera set to ISO 3200, an aperture of f/2.8 and a shutter speed that is barely hand-holdable at 1/25th. If you click through to view the image on Flickr, you can see the full EXIF header  by selecting “More properties” in the lower right.

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The Nikon D300S that I shoot with is pretty effing good in low-light situations, giving very useable results even when it’s jacked up to ISO 3200.

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The shot above adds some flash to light up the DJ booth in the form of a Nikon SB-800 with a LumiQuest Pocket Bouncer attached. I’ve slowed down the shutter speed even further, to 1/6th. This allows more of the ambient light into the photo, but the short duration of the flash still keeps the main subjects relatively sharp.

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The two shots above are much the same as the DJ booth shot, with some added flash and slower shutter speeds of 1/8th and 1/10th, respectively.

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The shot above is by far my favourite of the last few months, for a few reasons. One, the bearded dude looks angry and therefore funny. Two, he’s the most prominent thing in the photo, staring right at the camera, isolated from the sea of people around him. You’ll notice the orange glow this whole photo has, despite using flash. This was taken much closer to the disco ball than the previous photos were, meaning the light was more intense and the slow shutter (1/8th) picked it up a little more than before.

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Dragging the shutter on the above photo helped to convey a sense of movement, but the flash still kept much of the important parts sharp. Looks like he’s in the middle of a pelvic thrust.

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I love these last two for being totally impromptu club pictures. The first dude held the finger pose for only a split second as he danced around, but I snagged it. The group in the lower photo had no idea I was even there, as I just held my camera up high over my head to capture their ridiculous faces.

Turns out DJ Storm also needed some photos of himself for some promotional posters, so we went into the studio a few weeks ago and banged these out:

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I used a High Pass filter technique in Photoshop to give them a slightly more dimensional look. You can read more about the technique on Dustin Snipes’ blog.