Photo Daily: Merrique and the Midnight Indigo

Merrique and the Midnight Indigo, Chicago ©2014

Merrique and the Midnight Indigo, Chicago ©2014

“Almost ready. Let me gel that other light so the color temperature mat….. oh… wow… wait a minute. Never mind. This is amazing!”

Merrique was in town for a few days this past June. I hadn’t seen her since we worked together in Todos Santos, Mexico back in 2011, making beautiful images with her. It had been too long.

Merrique is a wonderfully stunning woman, but her outer loveliness is only part of who she is. She’s a talented musician as well. Originally from my favorite city, Paris, she now calls Los Angeles home. Conversations with her are always deliciously stimulating.

My plan was to shoot her old school style, using hot lights. I usually use continuous lighting these days instead of still photography strobes, because I often like to shoot motion when I’ve got something good going and I don’t want to have two different lighting set-ups for the stills and motion. Once I get the look I’m after, and can go back and forth with ease.

After years of using the fluorescent lighting for my motion work, I added two beautiful ARRI 650 tungsten lights to my kit earlier this year. Fluorescent lights are nice because they stay cool, but there is nothing like an old school fresnel to focus a beautiful beam of light. It’s much more like the direct light of the sun. I love how I can shape it.

I’ve always admired how the old Hollywood photographers, such as one of my main influences in lighting, George Hurrell, would create beautiful shapes with his large hot lights. Sure they melted his subjects after about 20 minutes. But those photographs. Those beautiful photos. Art.

But because they’re tungsten in color temperature, more reddish in color than daylight lighting, sometimes I have to gel them to make the light more blue if I’m using them in addition to natural daylight. One of them was gelled blue from a previous shoot and I was getting ready to add my gel to the other light when I looked up and saw Merrique under this incredible mismatched light. Warm tungsten color from one side and the most beautiful blue coming from the other.

Sometimes you just have to be smart enough to keep those happy accidental surprises.

With the rim of beautiful blue light on her face and the warm tones on her skin, she began to pose in ways that completely complimented the lighting. Merrique is another one of my international model friends who really knows light. It’s always such a joy to collaborate with models who know as much about lighting as I do. She was amazing.

Merrique and the Midnight Indigo. Definitely one of my favorite new photographs from 2014.

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