A Portrait in Time and Place

Lots of folks are huge fans of the Bridgerton TV series, a sexy, saucy interpretation of looking for love in London high society in the early 1800’s. The show’s popularity spilled over into the fashion world, and why wouldn’t it? Gowns, tiaras, fancy hats, colors both garish and subtle. And of course, everything styled…just so.

Shooting period fashion, I have to say, is right up the alley of our extraordinary duo of Lynn DelMastro, producer, and Sam Brown, stylist. And our first phone call was to actress and model Kelly Mulvihill. Her look, hair color, and quietly beautiful demeanor was perfect in front of camera.

This was a tripod job! Our location presented lovely opportunities, which I had to augment with flash. But, the lighting I applied was minimal. I was utterly reliant on cloudy window light for the look and the feel of job, which forced slow shutter speeds. I used a heavy duty Gitzo Systematic for stability, as I lightly mixed in some soft, broad based flash into the daylight mix of the room. Overplay the flash, it looks strobed and you are no longer in the 1800’s. Those older, cracked and crumbling spaces need to look simply and softly lit.

Details of the makeup, gowning and lighting had to be examined, so I was tethered for almost all of the shoot. Tether Tools is our go to and used the USB-C to USB-C cable and the Tether Tools Aero Table, moving pictures into Capture One Pro, which is a phenomenally dependable tool for camera connectivity in the field. The way these two systems talk to each other is lock solid. No breaks.

Camera of choice was the Nikon Z 7II, which embraced the softer colors, and held details. Which figures, given the recent 100 sensor score the camera received from DXOMark. Coupled this up with the new 50mm f/1.2 lens. What can I say? The tools we now have as we go forward in this digitally driven world are truly phenomenal.

Given the hat, as can be seen, I resorted to a wide, simple white board for a low fill, just a bit of a light push under the brim, and reaching the eyes. I’m using all the tools here, given the fact this was shot during the pandemic and I am masked at camera, fogging my glasses like crazy. I’m using the camera LCD, and the one push 100% zoom factor to check sharpness. I’m often resorting to Pinpoint AF focus mode, so I make sure my cursor gets under the hat and right to the eye. On tripod, I am using the brake on the Gitzo ball head to keep making minute adjustments for her quiet motions, relative to the linear aspects of the scene.

The upper light and the low bounce are both Profoto B1X units, and I did the super soft approach with the upper, running it through a shoot-through white umbrella, and then into a Lastolite 6×6 Skylite Rapid. Nice, easy quality of light, as opposed to the picture of Kelly in the alcove window seen above. There I had to be specific and locate the light with a beauty dish and a grid to minimize spill. Hence the light tapers to shadow quite quickly, and pretty much leaves the room alone.

Control of light, hopefully matching the mood, the model and the place. More tk….