New Personal Work with Model Cassi in Mt Pleasant, Michigan

This year I’ve been making a point of shooting more personal work. This helps me grow as a photographer, meet new models, and find new locations to photograph.

The first shoot I ever did with Cassi was back in 2012 before my formal training at the Hallmark Institute of Photography. Since then we have worked together multiple times. Some of my most creative and unique shoots have been with Cassi. These have included shoots at night lighting up craggily trees with flash. Belly dancing and post apocalyptic themed shoots, and also a trip to Ludington for natural light images on Lake Michigan. Some of these images would later be displayed as metal prints at the Four Leaf Brewery in downtown Clare.

For this shoot we went to Nelson Park in Mt Pleasant. This is one of my most frequented locations. I knew that trying to shoot something new and unique here would be difficult since I have shot it so many times. The first images we did with Cassi wearing her normal cloth in natural light. The leaves made the image almost look like it was shot in fall despite it being photographed in April. This was shot using an 85mm f/1.8 lens wide open to get a very shallow depth of field. Some more selective blurring was added in Photoshop.

Then Cassi changed into her medieval dress. We shot around a patch of three trees near the entrance of Nelson Park. Despite shooting at Nelson Park countless times before I don’t think I had ever shot around these three trees before. I had usually opted for the more obvious location choices like the rocks, waterfall, trail between parks, and weeping willow trees.

The first dress image was shot on tripod with my Alienbee B1600 Flash modified with a standard white shoot thru umbrella very close to Cassi. The closer the lightsource to the subject the more flattering the light. I shot two images one with Cassi and the light and one without Cassi and the light. I later merged these two images in Photoshop removing the light and keeping Cassi. The final result reminds me of my favorite Dutch masters paintings even though this wasn’t intentional going into the shoot.

The remaining images were shot with a very shallow depth of field and I intentionally places the trees between Cassi and I to create depth. To get a very shallow depth of field I used an ND filter which works like sunglasses for your camera. This allowed me to get to an f/1.8 aperture despite is still being relatively bright outside. All were lit with an Alienbee B1600 Flash modified with a shoot thru umbrella. By making changes in the shutter speed and light placement I was able to get a variety very different looks.

Huge thanks to Cassi for modeling! This is one of my favorite shoots we have done together to date.

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Photographer/Retoucher at Ryan Watkins Photography
Ryan Watkins Photography specializes in portrait and wedding photography catering to Clare, Mt Pleasant, and Midland, Michigan. Ready to travel anywhere in the state. 

Graduate from the Hallmark Institute of Photography and Highest Academic Honor recipient. 

Published in several magazines including Shutterbug, Digital Photo, Outdoor Photographer, and PDNedu. 
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