Since she first picked up a camera about a dozen years ago, Alexandria’s Lens has developed a unique style and vision using her children and her mind’s eye to create wonderful fairy tale-like photo-illustrations.
Alexandria’s latest photo-illustration of a mermaid swimming underwater was conceived specifically for this ‘How I Got That Shot’ series for Profoto. And as always, Alexandria was able to not only nail the shot, but despite the fact the picture was taken in an open field under a moody, dusky sky, you’d never know the picture was captured hours from any large body of water.
Using Emma - her eldest daughter (and collaborator) as a model, this photograph is made up of several separate images pieced together in Photoshop. The lighting gear used to create this image is remarkably simple – a pair of Profoto B10 flashes on stands, a handheld Profoto C1 Plus, and blue gels for illuminating the ‘jellyfish’.
Using the blue cast of dusk to emulate the look and feel of being underwater, Alexandria set up a B10 with a Profoto OCF Softbox 2x3' on a stand positioned off to the left of the frame aimed downward at a 45° angle toward Emma. A light blue gel was used to cool the light to further emulate the underwater look of the image.
Emma, who spent a good part of the day in her hand-picked mermaid costume, kneeled facing backwards on a chair with her hands held out as Nick – who in no particular order is Alexandria’s assistant, business partner, and husband, lit Emma’s extended hand with a blue-gelled C1 Plus. A second bare-bulb B10 on a stand placed off camera on the right side of the frame was used as the main source of light. Not being gelled, the bare bulb came off warm-toned in contrast to the blue ambience of the gelled B10s and dusk sky.
After shooting variations on this portion of the image they went about highlighting smaller details with the C1 Plus that would be edited in later. Baby Eloise also exercised her lighting skills in this portion of the production.
A number of variations of each stage of the process were captured before the ambient light faded away. The ‘jellyfish’ were lit and photographed separately and striped into the final image.
In order to have Emma’s hair look as if it was floating in water, they took an additional photograph in which Emma floated in the bathtub with her head partially submerged while Dad lit the scene with his trusty blue-gelled C1 Plus.
From here Alexandria edited the best take from each segment of the shoot and Photoshopped them together to create the final image, which you have to admit looks pretty darn good!
Photo tips from Alexandria’s Lens
- Use continuous light mode, when possible, to allow shooting in burst mode.
- When shooting with a mix of natural light, try to match the natural hue with that of your own lighting for a realistic look.
- If you like to shoot in nature, invest in a portable, rechargeable light such as the B10 so you can bring great lighting to those magical places without all of the wires.
- Use different color gels to make adding spells and glows in post-production easier.
- Use a larger light on a stand to bring realistic sunlight into the image while using a smaller close up light with color gels for a magical effect (such as spells or glowing jellyfish).