Angel in the forest | Chicago Fashion Photography

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This will be long post. If you don’t want to go thru all of it, just scroll down, sit back and enjoy the pictures. From the other hand if you would like to read about crappy Chicago weather, from where get props for a photoshoot and planning planning and once again planning – here you go.


OK, so I had this photoshoot with Angel Wings in my head for really long time. I planned everything carefully and it just took me a while to set everything up and make it happen. When you plan a photoshoot, it’s really important that you won’t miss anything, so I had a list – you know basic stuff: location, makup, logistics, etc. But then I came across Nick Onken’s blog post about what he calls “shooting a test”. He came up with awesome diagram, that is exactly what I needed. I modified it a little bit, but the idea is the same, and now whenever I’m planning a photoshoot – I’m gonna use that as a guide and checklist.  By the way, if you want to read more (and trust me – you do:)) about “setting up a test” from Nick, go ahead.














Props were really important for photoshoot I’ve envisioned. I got wings from online store, and was looking for a stylish lamp and maybe a table. We went to Hobby Lobby – good place to get props, and they have 30 day return policy – so if you’re planning to use things only for one photoshoot, you can always return them after all. Just don’t remove the label, keep the receipt and make sure that they’re in the same condition as when you bought them. We decided to keep our props – they look way cool in our living room:)Home Depot was another place I went to get all the tools and wall socket.







Location Scouting and Weather

Location scouting is extremely important to me. Whenever I can, I go to the location before the actual shoot and scout it – check available light, terrain and make sure that the location is what I’m envisioning. This activity saves a lot of everyone’s time – you’re not running around like a chicken without a head looking for another spot where to shoot. Trust me – you will feel more confident, and more importantly – model will feel comfortable knowing that you know what you’re doing:)I use TPE (The Photographer’s Ephemeris) application on my iPad/iPhone (you can download Desktop version for free – but obviously it’s not as mobile as iOS version). TPE is great – it lets you track the location’s light conditions –  so you can see exactly how the light will fall on the land during the time your photoshoot.

One thing that no application will help you with is the weather. And boy – weather sucks this year in Chicago, but what sux more than the weather is the weather guys – they are never accurate here in Chicago. I hate them! :[ I was planning to shoot on Sunday, because it’s day off and weather supposed to be nice… but hell no – we woke up Sunday morning to heavy rain, and famous 40% chance of rain precipitation. I mean seriously dude – it’s like on Mon-Wed they say weekend will be sunny and nice, then on Thu-Fri they say we might have some isolated thunderstorms and then on the weekend you find out that there might be even tornado warning. Pathetic! Locals say that it’s due to the “lake effect” – I don’t buy it… I lived near NYC for over 2 years and they were super accurate, pretty much every other place is more accurate than Chicagoland in regards to weather. OK, enough of that negative weather crap – bottom line is that whenever weather is not cooperating – you need to postpone if possible, and that’s exactly what I did.

Lights and Equipment

While scouting the location I knew how I wanted to light it. I wanted light to be soft and big, and I wanted less shadows to get fashion look. I wanted to shot low ISO to get the clear picture, but at the same time wanted to keep my CPL filter on, because I didn’t want to loose color saturation that CPL filter gives. I also wanted to bring some ambient, so using a tripod and remote release cable was pretty obvious.

Lens choice was pretty easy too – 85mm 1.2L II. It’s like hate-love relationship for me dealing with that lens – I hate its auto focus and how slow it is, but I love the colors (especially with CPL on it) and bokeh. Since I had tripod I manual focused for all the pictures.

Here is the setup:

1. Main light I used Elinchrom Quadra RX + Deep Octa, subject right high,

2. Fill light – 580 EX II + Lastolite EzyBox, subject left high,

3. Details/kick – snooted Elinchrom Quadra RX (plugged into B plug to the pack) pointed at the table.











Location and Logistics

I booked Adrianna for 3 hours, so planning and logistics was crucial in making sure we’re not loosing time (or available light for that matter). I packed our SUV with stuff and drove to the location and started to setup while Kamila was working on makup at home. It worked out perfectly, because when I was done with setting up the lights and screwing wall socket into a tree (btw: no marks were left after all, so it didn’t hurt the tree:)) Kamila was done with makeup and her and Adrianna reached the location.


Luckily enough Kamila did makeup, so I didn’t have to worry about MUA arriving on time, etc. Well, if she didn’t, I’d probably give her 1 week of silent treatment:)


Shoot went extremely smoothly, not only because we had everything worked out prior to it, but also because Adrianna was great to work with. It was almost as she read my mind – I loved it! So if you’re looking for a model that’s awesome and has that VS look – look no more – book Adrianna.


Pictures looked great sooc (straight out of camera), thanks to good lighting, lovely 85 1.2 L II and CPL filter on it. I did my selection in LR and some post in CS5 – played little bit with Tone Curve and Warmness, nothing crazy tho.

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at this point, I got my shot, and we still had some time left. Going back to home studio didn’t make any sense to me, because of the time and beautiful falling light that we had  on the location. Besides that, I’d rather shoot location then studio:)and Adrianna delivered again, she changed outfits super fast (twice!) and was ready to go:

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Details, in my opinion, are extremely important while planning and executing photoshoot. I thought I considered everything: brought bunch of equipment, drinking water, took off against the mosquitos, etc, but, even though shoot went extremely smoothly, I’m super happy with the output, now that I think of it, I’d do even more:)I would bring piece of wooden board, cover it with tree leaves, so Adrianna could stand on her high heels without caving in the turf. 

If you have any questions, post them in comments and I will be sure to answer them:)

thanks for stopping by…


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Facebook comments:

August 23, 2011 - 9:08 AM

Rick - Nice commentary on your work. The concept and execution is really terrific. Congratulations.

September 12, 2011 - 2:20 AM

gify - The post you wrote is really good.

September 13, 2011 - 2:09 AM

śmieszne gify - I really enjoyed that article. You should write more about that topic.

September 24, 2011 - 9:52 PM

Stephen Cox - Great work! Thanks for providing all the setup specifics. It helps me understand how to best use OCF.

December 15, 2011 - 6:22 AM

Garth Hiscox - Spot on with this write-up, I really think this web site wants far more consideration. I’ll most likely be again to learn much more, thanks for that info.

July 4, 2012 - 1:21 AM

tina - Hi, i was wondering what is the name of the forest for this photoshoot?

July 5, 2012 - 12:16 PM

bizior - @tina: close to Gilbert Park in Downers… :)

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