Savra at Oare Gunpowder works

The Concept

21st February 2016 - Please let the weather be clement!

For a long time I have wanted to do a mystical or fantasy type woodland shoot. After shooting with Savra back on October 2015 and witnessing the amazing collection of outfits she had, I knew there and then that she would fit the shoot like a glove. So that was it then, book her up, my location had already been decided,just shoot. Simples. No!

Not your everyday supermarket shopping attire ...
My first shoot with Savra in a studio

The Location - Oare Gunpowder Works

I have had my eye on Oare Gunpowder Works, near Faversham, as a shoot location for sometime. It has a beautiful mix of wooded areas, large ponds, open meadow and derelict buildings. On a visit last year I had met up with a warden there and after discussing my ideas with her she said they might be able to open up some of the more restricted areas and buildings for me because they loved to see the park get used for such more activities.

Oare Gunpowder Works

Great I thought and booked Savra for a weekend shoot. The only problem, I later discovered, was that the park does not open at weekends during the winter! Normally I am there at about 7:00AM and there is nobody around (except fisherman) so never thought to check the opening hours. This I could see being a problem not least because Savra would need somewhere to change into these amazing outfits. I offered to reschedule but professional models are ... well, professional! A carefully parked car, an open door and a large sports umbrella are all you need!

The Shoot

Let's be Grimm

From the off in post processing I wanted to give the images that Grimm fairytale look. To start with though everything was edited in Adobe Lightroom CC. I use Lightroom to catalogue images and do the bulk of the editing including cropping, and film simulation selection. The Fuji X-T1 allows me to select film simulations like Fuji Astia, Fuji Velvia, Classic Chrome and Pro Neg. Most of the time the images for this shoot were converted to either Classic Chrome or Fuji Astia.

From Lightroom I then pull the image into Photoshop to do some minor skin retouching. I use Frequency Separation as a technique. This involves splitting the image into two layers, a colour layer and a detail layer. With the detail layer selected and using a clone tool you can clone out spots, pimples and wrinkles - Savra does not have many wrinkles! Then with the colour layer selected and making small selections around sharp changes between light and dark areas, for example skin shine, use the gaussian blur filter to smooth out the skin colour.

Back to the car ...

Already there were some shots in the camera I liked and it was time to move on to the next outfit.

The Business traveller ...

I was booked on a work training course and found myself Billy No Mates (not just when I travel) in a hotel in Cambridgeshire. Dinner dealt with, I settled down in the bar with a trusty pint of Guinness (other stouts are available but taste rubbish) and started working on my Grimm effect. To achieve this I used On1 Perfect Suite software, in particular the Effects module. This allows you to add effects layers like textures, vignettes, colour bleach processes etc. onto an image to create an overall effect. There are also a number of preset 'recipes' which come as standard or can be downloaded from the internet. I looked at many filter and presets during the consumption of Guinness until eventually finding one that created nearly the kind of effect I was after.

The effect I had did not quite deliver what I wanted so I changed some of the texture layers already in the recipe for different ones and removed one completely replacing it with a vignette effect I could increase or decrease to taste. I saved the new recipe as my own preset ready to apply to the next image ensuring a fairly consistent look to each image in the set.

Faking night ...

This was the first shoot I did with my new Elinchrom portable studio flash, the Elinchrom ELB 400 kit with 2 action heads, 2 lithium ion batteries and a control unit. They are about 4 times as powerful as a standard speed light and I get around 350 flashes per battery. To be honest is was not so warm as for me to want to waste time flapping over new kit while Savra got cold so I did not use them that much. What you can do though with flash is turn day into night. By selecting a really small aperture, f16/f22 for example, you effectively under-expose the background whilst the flash still exposes the subject nicely. Thus 2PM becomes much later in the day.

Bring on the enchantress of the woodlands ...

Track back to the car, and after waiting for the families and dog walkers to move on, time for another quick change.

Most of the images taken on this shoot were done with a Fujinon 56mm f1.2 lens shooting pretty much full open most of the time to give a lovely shallow depth of field. A small number where shot using the Fujinon 50-140mm f2.8 again pretty much fully open for most of the time.

One Last Change

There was time for one final change of outfit as the weather was now starting to turn colder and we had been shooting for over 3 hours.

And Rest

As expected Savra was a fantastic choice for the shoot and Oare Gunpowder Works was an excellent location that I will certainly be using again. Maybe next time I will actually check there is somebody there because it would be nice to use some of the old buildings more. If I am totally honest we probably ended up in a few places we were not supposed to but it is important to respect the environment and I think we did that.

Next project ...... Urbex Ballerinas!

Check out Oare Gunpowder Works for your self on the link button below

Want to see more the Savra's amazing outfits? Check out her PurplePort portfolio on the link button below.

You can see the finished edits from the shoot on my website on the link button below.

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