Montblac / Postcard from Paris

I had been thinking of doing a Black and White set for a while so when a project involving a $1,000+ Montblanc Greta Garbo inspired pen came along it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The concept was fairly easy but as always the details require extra attention. Total planning time was around 4-5 months. I selected Jessica, a former Miss Toronto Model for the shoot. She had the timeless beauty that was required, stunning eyes, great hair and a wonderful attitude. Several props had to be found to complete the set. A vintage flip out camera from the 20’s (which I kept and used in my Cairo shoot) A postcard hand written with a fountain pen, a travel journal.

1/10 sec to give it a 30?s style blur f4 80mm

Wardrobe also had to authentic. The wide brim hat was a must but my concern here was lack of contrast due to the blond hair, we found the perfect solution with one that had both an inside and outer black rim. Other items such as the pencil skirt, wrap and jewelry didn’t present any major problems. I decided to shoot both a higher end looking image and a more casual look ,the wardrobe would be totally different for both and for one we would introduce a Jeannie Lottie clutch back to give the scene some extra sparkle.

Location wasn’t as much of an issue as I had imagined it might become. After a few weeks scouting I found a bistro that had authentic furniture and a suitable outdoor area. As with my other shoots I pecked an early sunday morning to start with make-up and hair being done on site at around 8:00 am.

Lighting was a mixture of ambient sunlight and 4 Nikon speedlights (800’s and a 600) plus a couple of reflectors. I wanted enough backlight but needed the fill in light to render detail but not overexpose the highlights. The Bistros wrought iron railings and plant stands could not be moved so positioning the light units was very tricky to say the least.

The hardest shots were probably the ones that look the easiest to take. You would think the pen close up to be easy but the reflections are a nightmare. Dulling spray or hairspray can sometimes help with this but I was concerned the fine mist would clog the fine detail on the nib and be visible in the shot. I ended up using some small reflectors and translucent paper to help control the highlights and shadows while still trying to convey the look of a sunny day. I used a Nikon bellow unit for the extreme close up as it allowed me to shift the distortion and focus as the focal plane can be moved (much like architectural photography).

I think there is very little if anything I would change in the set. Both the product shots on its own and the model images, both casual and high end came together as I expected.

1/10 sec f4 reflector and slow sync fill in flash

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