Places & Spaces | Week 12 With Olga Goysan @ River Bends Park

Slow & steady, typically the terms used when discussing yoga. It's a practice that not only subdues you physically, but mentally as well. I needed to gain that control within my photography, not let it take over, but instead relax me, both physically and mentally. 

When I originally reached out to individuals about shooting with me while posing for Yoga it was cold outside, a lot of snow, wind, just overall harsh weather, but I wanted my pictures to convey a different message, that this harsh weather, or these obstacles shouldn't stop one from being at peace with themselves or their goals. Unfortunately after a barrage of cancellations I wasn't able to capture this imagery, instead I had to settle for a less subtle approach, the woods.

Now the woodland like scenery may not cast off the message I initially wanted, but the empty plain still provided a certain aesthetic that I thought would capture people's attention.

The area we chose was River Bends Park, located on 22 mile in Shelby Township. The area was huge, it literally took me 15-20 minutes to just find the proper entrance where Ogla was located... Speaking of Olga, she is a model I befriended on Model Mayhem, the website has a bad rep, but it really has allowed me to shoot the type of shoots that I want to present to you all, the days of reaching out and counting on friends are over, finding someone who is looking to take model seriously is the way I'll be doing this moving forward. We both have something to gain, so the level of cancellations won't be as extreme.

The idea of River Bends park was her's, I often try to let the subject choose an area, because I think it allows them to be a little more comfortable, especially when it comes to meeting a stranger, it also gives me a chance to learn new areas and present them to you, or use for future sessions.

We ventured off right into the woods, Olga set up her mat and began to stretch. I shot through a few of them to figure out what settings would be best for the shoot then I started to fire away. After a series of test shooting I noticed that the image my camera presented differed from the one that I would see when I went through the playback. The image in the viewfinder was not clear, and I couldn't figure out why. I adjusted the continuous meeting to spot focus, I switched lenses, camera off and on. I looked like I had no idea what I was doing, how do I know this? Because Olga looked at me and said "Is this your first time?". When she said that I honestly felt like she had lost confidence in me. Apart of me wanted to quit, but since the images were coming out clear I decided to push forward.

Olga Goysan, River Bends Park | Edited in Lightroom 5

XF 35mm f/1.4 @ f1/4.

The yoga shoot really tested me, Olga was very good at what she did, and she went from one move to the next, even held the positions for an extended time to assure that I got the shot. However each position required new composition, and sometimes I just wasn't able to react fast enough.

If I could go back and do it, I would've slowed down and asked her to hold or repeat that position until I figured out what was the best angle to view from. The shoot wasn't just full of mistakes though, this is week 12 of my project and I've learned so much on this adventure, I implemented a lot of my learning into this shoot. I was more vocal, I took risk, and I challenged myself, especially with lighting. I didn't settle for shadows, even though you will see some images with shadows, but I made a conscious effort to eliminate them, so I did see the growth. I also took my time, I can't remember the last time I shot through a card in my previous shoots, with Olga I shot through 2, my images weren't the best that I've taken, but again signs of growth.

When I loaded my second card into my camera we took a break, about 5 minutes or so, this allowed me to get my thoughts together, I was a little worried about my camera not displaying my images clearly in the viewfinder, especially since this camera was recently purchased to replace my broken one. After 2, maybe 3 minutes, I thought to myself "Maybe the diopter needs an adjustment." Could it be this simple? Yes... 

Olga was kind enough to repeat some of the previous positions for me, a level of confidence came back, but unfortunately the sun was slowly disappearing, and the location we chose lost a lot of light, hence the harsh shadows in the images like the one below. 

She left smiling, hopefully I regained her confidence towards the end of the shoot, we chatted for a bit and then we splitted ways. Personally I left the shoot feeling a bit indifferent, when I arrived home I looked through the photos and some I liked while others I just knew I could have done better. I shot a few of them at f/1.4 with the XF 35, but most of the foreground wasn't blurred out, that was extremely weird to me, I went through a few more images and I noticed it in several shots. Same thing with my SMC 135, I shot long with this, yet the background wasn't as compressed as I envisioned, even at f/3.5.

So thats something I took away from this shoot, learning about bokeh, and how it differs when you factor in distance. In some shots I shot Olga full body at 50mm (FFE) so I had to be a decent distance from here, which I assume made the background more in focus, that's just my assumption though. You can find the entire Places & Spaces series below, as well as directions to the location from this weeks shoot.



Gear Used