Photographer Michael Winter has some serious talent that goes beyond what average strobist photographers do. He not only creates stunning photos, but he uses creative vision and skills to make them. What’s more, he does most of it in-camera. These are some of our favorite types of photographers: the ones who do about 95% of the work in-camera and little to nothing in post-production. In turn, their images are just so good that sometimes they don’t even need to be worked on afterward. So we asked him how he made this shot.
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This photo fascinated us because of how complex it is. Michael is a talented photographer, and this photo is a testament to that. With that said, the majority of this photo wasn’t done in Photoshop with some sort of new filter. Instead, it used some in-camera techniques. “There are a combination of things going on–slow shutter speeds, multiple pops of flash, camera movement, and model movement,” Michael tells us in an interview. “I actually got the idea from one of Peter Coulson’s shoots that he posted on his website, Inspire. I kind of played around with the things he was doing and then did combinations of the all above.” Indeed, doing a shoot like this is difficult because you have to be super detail-oriented. In fact, Micahel admits that he wishes he had more hands and extra eyes to make sure everything was working out perfectly.
Fortunately, Michael’s model is very patient. Her name is Ladi Drea. She is a Singer/Songwriter/DJ based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Part of this shoot was pure experimentation for his own gratification but also for Ladi Drea to use as promotional material.
This photo was shot earlier this year, so Michael’s creative vision hasn’t changed drastically since then.
“I’ve done a few variations of this kind of shooting with other people and gotten some really weird and abstract looking images but on the whole, I am pretty happy with how this set came out.”
- Phase One XF camera
- Phase one IQ 350
- Schneider Kreuznach 80mm Lens
- Photoflex 5ft Octabox with a grid
- Profoto D1 Air 1000
- Black paper backdrop
- Chocolate-covered espresso beans (indispensable)
Here’s Michael’s account of what happened during the shoot!
I began by showing Ladi Drea what I wanted to try and accomplish by having her look a few photos online and part of Peter’s video. During the shoot I was simply telling her whether I wanted her to move a little or a lot–or just remain as still as possible. In this particular shot, I asked her to stay as still as possible and shot with a shutter speed of .6 sec at f8.
After a single flash, I used those .6 secs to move the camera quickly to the left. That’s where the blur comes from. You can move the camera in any direction you like: up and down, side to side, in a circular motion or run at the model with the camera (which can be a little disconcerting for the model :-)) and get some very interesting and often abstract effects. The real trick is controlling the ambient light in the space as there can’t be too much or too little–it can take some trial and error before finding the sweet spot. The light itself was on a boom arm centered on the model about 3ft above her and tilted down a bit to avoid too much spill on the background.
I really try and explain to people what I’m doing all the way through any shoot and most people find it rather fascinating, especially after they see the results. It becomes a bit of a partnership in a weird way as they are not just passive participants in what we are doing and often come up with some interesting ideas themselves.
Michael, a man of culture, uses Capture One for basic RAW processing and then exports to Photoshop for further editing. “I really didn’t do much to this particular shot other than some skin retouching in Photoshop and then used DXO’s Nik Collection for some color grading, and contrast adjustments to accentuate the blur,” Michael explains. “I also added some structure and a wee bit of noise. It was a pretty low-impact edit relatively speaking.”
About Michael Winter
I’ve been a full-time school counselor for 25 years in Portsmouth New Hampshire. Although I do get some paid gigs photography is more of a hobby for me. I started shooting 15 years ago and slowly but surely went down the rabbit hole of buying equipment, upgrading equipment, renting a studio, etc. A path I expect your readers are familiar with. I primarily shoot portraits/people and I guess what could loosely be called “fashion”.