Feathering my nest
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Photography Blog by Duncan Holmes

Feathering my nest

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be able to attend the opening event at Illusion Controlled Custom Studio in Glasgow. Still in its formative stages it's unusual in that it is a studio that has been founded by a makeup artist, rather than a photographer. Some of the focus has therefore been on the props, accessories and backgrounds, rather than on getting the biggest lights and softboxes in creation's wide playground. It's a a novel approach and I'm looking forward to seeing how they develop over the next months, especially with a seeming boom in new studios in Glasgow.
Anyway, as part of their launch they were offerring a 3 hour studio hire with the use of the makeup artist herself, Mera Finlayson. I was caught on an impulse and decided to jump at the chance. (I spent several hours at the launch as it was a cold November day and my wife was not returning from Edinburgh until early evening).
 
So, inspired with the need to fill 3 hours I decided that I would choose something nice and wintry, exotic birds, as my inspiration. This lead me, more or less directly, to the door of Fair Feathered Friend, creator of some elaborate and beautiful feathered headdresses. A call out for models and I was fortunate that Tuma was back North of the border and willing to spend the afternoon in the studio. There was interest from several others as well, but a breakdown in communication between me and FFF meant that we ended up with just the one. Still, with only 3 hours to fill with the 7 fabulous pieces from Angie our hands were pretty full.
 
Shooting in December, even in the best studios, can be a cold experience and the IC studio was no exception. Fortunately for Tuma we were shooting from the shoulders up, so she was wrapped in a blanket. Even so, towards the end of the shoot she was huddling round the heaters at times.
 
So naturally after raving earlier about the accessories and props the studio has available, I made use of one, a chair, which remained out of shot. Never let it be said that I have to make sense.
 
Tuma is always a joy to work with, a very expressive model who does not need too much direction and is patient with the vague ideas and suggestions that I put forward during the shoot.
 
The makeup was a little less ambitious than I had originally envisioned, but this is why I rely on the experts. The results really worked well with the model and the headdresses, a glittery mask of blues, purples and a touch of silver sheen. This change does also mean that I still have more flamboyant makeup in reserve for a future shoot too, so not a bad thing to still have ideas for the future.
 
Lighting was kept simple, two small softboxes on either side of the model, one high, one low, and a gridded barndoor acting as a hair(feather?) light. The studio is awaiting delivery of some more robust lighting in the near future.
 
I'm very pleased with the resulting images, with my only failure being not able to capture the blue EL wire on one of the headpieces. EL Wire, as I found from the Tron inspired shoot with Psychomoda is very difficult to capture well without compromising the rest of the image.
 
Probably the last fun shoot before the New Year as I go into pre holiday hibernation..but famous last words and all that...

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