Maybe NSFW: Thanksgiving Lingerie

by Tom Nguyen in , ,


Happy Thanksgiving (to those who celebrate)!  Let's get this out of the way: I'm thankful for taking photos of lingerie models. That's it!  :D  This blog's title starts off with "Maybe NSFW," but since many are at home with family, it may or may not be "safe for home."  Regardless, I've taken advantage of what I consider a rather boring holiday (many places are closed, and who actually has fun hanging out with family for too long??) to post up a sexy new blog to garner some cheap hits on my site.

Today's lovely subject is Vietnamese model Uyen.  I've shot her plenty before, and have even made a friend (or two) of hers jealous because of it.  :P  And I shall continue to shoot with her for upcoming projects!  I'm kind of proud to say that I'm the one who "discovered" her (i.e., I had talked her into giving modeling a try few years ago), and that I am currently the only photographer she'll shoot with.  Is that considered bragging?  Ah, well...

Recently I shot with Uyen in a shitty hotel in Houston.  I love Houston, but the hotel was horrible, much smaller than I hoped, and dumpy/plain.  Not to mention the locals saying it was a known hotspot for drug dealing/prostitution.  But I digress.....!  It was cheap, and I'm all for cheap.  Plus, as long as I can control my light, I can make just about any place work. 

Today's entry is about easy lighting in a small hotel room, but with a slight variation.  All you really need is daytime light and a big window for nice soft light.  That's it!  But for a different look right out of camera, I had one softbox on me (in fact, it was the cheap Neewer softbox that I'm currently experimenting with--see my initial impressions here).

Check out these 2 looks:

Olympus OMD-EM5, 45mm lens at f/1.8.  1/00 second, ISO 800.  Lit with just the plain window light directly behind me, no special external lighting. 

Olympus OMD-EM5, 45mm lens at f/1.8.  1/00 second, ISO 800.  Same light as above, but with the Neewer softbox camera left aimed backward at me.  

Do you see the difference?  Although the first photo was punchier with more contrast, the second photo has a slightly more washed out, kind of editorial look to it.  That's because the softbox was shooting additional light toward the lens, softening up the contrast.  And this was done all in camera.  The files you see above were 99% out of camera jpegs--not processed from RAW!  In fact; any retouching was very minor, and the white balance/contrast/colors were not adjusted whatsoever.  

Here's a lighting diagram to show my basic setup (so easy, anyone can do this):

People ask, "Tom, why do you draw out your lighting diagrams?"  Because 1) I don't have the software to do the fancy ones with graphics, and 2) I like sketching fun ones; if I can use one ability to showcase another, then hey--that will make me more unique :)

Here's another example of without-and-with- the softbox added:

Olympus OMD-EM5, 45mm lens at f/1.8.  1/00 second, ISO 800.  Again, just existing light from the lone window behind me.

Olympus OMD-EM5, 45mm lens at f/1.8.  1/00 second, ISO 800.  With softbox added.  

A few things: 

1) Notice how nice and soft the light is, just from a plain window. As long as it's bright outside and behind you as you're facing the model, you'll get good, flattering light for glamour.  You don't even need a lighting setup.  

2) If you do decide to add the light, feather its edge to you (as shown in the diagram).  Don't blast it directly into the lens or you risk some nasty flare.  Notice that there is no flare in these photos.

3) Sure, you can create the washed out look in post-processing, but if you can do it this easily in camera, then why not save yourself a step?

4) I slightly overexposed the skin to add to this effect with the softbox for a nice, stylized look; this combined with the big window light will dramatically cut down your retouching time in post.

Here are more selections from this particular set.  All camera settings were the same for every photo:

Once again I have to say that I do love my Olympus 45mm/1.8 lens.  So tiny and cheap, great sharpness wide open, and good enough background separation for me.  I still say it's the best bang for your buck if you're  micro 4/3rds user.

Uyen will be involved in a major project of mine, with sexier photos ;)  I'll keep you guys posted, of course.   Ok, that's all I got for now.  Happy Thanksgiving.