Behind The Scenes

Behind-the-scenes shots from Frozen Grace

May 30, 2015

After I posted my Frozen Grace series all over social media from my 500px, Flickr, Facebook and Google+, I had some interesting questions regarding how I did this shoot. The idea came about when I had wanted to freeze either a dancer or ballerina into my long exposure images. But first, some of the final images.

Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

Planning stage
I got to know this location 2 years ago. After I found my ballerina, I shared my concept and was ecstatic when the idea seemed interesting and good enough for me to work with her. Gear wise, I wanted to pack light because I knew I would be moving  – I brought 2 x DLSR body, 50mm f1.4, 16-35mm f4, a tripod, 1 x light stand, 2 x speed light (used only one), 1 x beauty dish (for closeup portrait, which in the end, I didn’t have time to shoot), and a 10 and 16 stops neutral density filter.

I was after more of freezing the action and with the final image blending it with the long exposure that I would take last. If I had taken the long exposure while the ballerina was doing her moves, then the outcome would be a blurry shot and more artistic. From the beginning, this was not what I’m after.

On location
I had wanted to shoot at the pier the first. What I didn’t know was, during that time, some schools were having kayak practice and it was impossible to access the pier and do a long exposure over there. So while waiting, we shot on the other side.

Sanna Kaappola

Above: The sun was behind her and it was blazing. My speed light was on full power to my left when I took this shot.

Sanna Kaappola

Above: I went down a slope and got this shot from below. No speed light and the shot fell into a silhouette. 

Behind The Scenes Shots

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: Me, trying to impress her with my pull-ups while holding a DSLR and using one finger on my right hand.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: I then tried to show her that I know a little ballet myself with this pose. All this while, she just looked at me and continued with her stretching.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: There’s no impressing this girl – after which I told her I wanted to shoot her in the water below. That definitely got her standing on her toes.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: Me, reviewing my shot before showing it to her. Before that, her right leg was pointing up to the sky.

We finally made it to the pier after shooting at this particular location. It was nearing darkness. But before that we had the chance to experience the most beautiful of sunsets. I made this shot and told her to stand right near the edge of the pier.

Frozen Grace

Above: The only colour shot I shared.

Shot Sequence
So my strategy was to find a composition – fixed on my tripod. Then shoot the ballerina doing a series of poses. Some movements were really dynamic and with the fading light challenging to freeze without some blurriness. After 5-10 shots, I then told her to take a rest while I fix my ND filter and took long exposures of 2-4 minutes. I would then composite her in post which was easy to do because my tripod stayed fixed and nothing else moved when I took long exposures.

Behind The Scenes Shot

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: The light was fading fast while the sun was setting further. I used my bare speed light and placed it slightly to the right. She’s not only limber but strong while showing me this – which is probably a yoga move. I said about a hundred “wow’s” while I continued clicking.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. This is my first BTS with actual photos – courtesy of my wife. I got most of them from screenshots from the video she took with her iPhone. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions.

Have a good weekend.

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