Crafting the Light | Don't Settle for Selfies

September 03, 2015  •  1 Comment

  Making a Difference with Strobes…How strobes and light modifiers can aid in creating extraordinary fashion, glamour and boudoir photographs. 

   Whether I am shooting in a studio, on location in central Texas, or elsewhere in the world, I will always strongly consider using some form of strobe and lighting modifiers.  Natural and ambient light are great, often providing a regionally unique look that is found only in that part of the world.  (This is a perfect excuse for any photographer or painter to travel.)  Anyone who has traveled widely can attest to how different the light is at one given location over another.  The warm golden colors of Rome, the intense spring colors of Europe, or vibrant colors of the Caribbean are but a few examples. 

  The overriding problem with available light, however, is that there is always an uncertainty of what you will have at the time the photograph is taken.  Even then, it will be changing from moment to moment.  Photographers know well the concept of chasing the light, or may be heard muttering that they are losing the light.  

  This brings me to artificial light - any source other than the sun, moon and stars.  It can be available light such as street lighting, candlelight, city lights, etc.  But in its most controllable form, the kind used by movie makers and skilled photographers, it can be counted upon to make the exact kind of light the artist is envisioning.  There are two main forms of artificial light used in cinema and photography.  They are classified as continuous lighting and strobes (commonly called flash).  Two examples of strobes are studio strobe and speed light.

  I presently use strobes and speed lights with a variety of devices to change and shape the light.  This shaping of the light is accomplished with light modifiers.  Light modifiers are any device that is used around, in front of, or on the light source to provide control such as softening, directing, or intensifying the light.  When used in consort with accessories that include light stands, colored gels, battery packs and more, they afford the artist immense creative ability to construct and shape the very look of the light.   

Texas fashion/glamourphotographer creates elegant, couture, evocative, and sexy photos. Lady in Orange v.2a by Von Trapp Fashion Photography 2014.Fashion, lighting, and styling were carefully considered and crafted in the creation of this glamour photograph. This mysterious image was created in San Antonio just as a rain started to fall.

  This image was created using two 1000 watt Profoto D1 Air studio strobes.  The first strobe is fitted with a beauty dish attached to a boom above the model and to camera left.  The second strobe is placed 25 feet away and aimed up along this narrow walkway to illuminate the model's lower body, and highlight her pumps to really pop their great color.  The camera is 40 feet away and fitted with a Canon 200mm f2L IS lens on a 5D MkII body with a radio trigger.  My lens choice, along with the strobes, allowed me to drop the background out of focus and into darkness, thus keeping the viewer's attention on the subject.

Sexy glamour photo of Austin author J.M. Buckler.In Lace and Leather v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2018Photo shoot with author/publisher J.M. Buckler by Von Trapp Photography.    

In this edgy image of our client, Austin Author/Publisher J.M. Buckler, the sun was used a rim-light her from behind, while a single 1000w strobe provided the main light.

Glamour photo of a sexy woman in the desert.She-devil v.2 by Von Trapp Photography 2015(Desert Siren Seres) A dry lakebed outside of Las Vegas is the setting for our concept shoot with Samiha. I dreamed of creating an image that used a mermaid/siren beckoning us to her further into the dry of the desert.

Model: Samiha Dugon Model Mayhem ##1946541 HMUA: Glam by Samiha Model Mayhem #1302674


  For our shoot with Samiha in the Las Vegas desert, we once again used the sun to rim-light the model.  Two 1000w strobes were this time placed high and to the sides of Samiha.

Stylized Art Nude photograph of a woman with long hair standing on a knoll in Holand.Joyful Breeze v.3 by Von Trapp Photography 2018.(From the series: Joyful Nymph on the Knoll)

A lovely breeze blows across this knoll and Joy's body in Naarden.

Mode/HMU: Joy Draiki
M.M. #2798173.
Photo assistant Emanuele.
Hosted by local photographer Rob Polder
This capture of Joy used only one 500w strobe as a main light, with the the sun backlighting her lovely hair. 

Edgy and sexy glamour photo of a woman in a Agent Provocateur dress in a San Antonio alley.A View Of Palner by Von Trapp Photography 2018.San Antonio's Peacock Alley is the setting for model Palmer, who creates a risqué view for our camera in this Agent Provocateur dress.

Model/HMU: Palmer

In contrast to the other images this capture of Palmer on Peacock Ally in San Antonio was created on a partly cloudy afternoon with the sun behind the camera.  To add additional punch to the light we used a strobe just right of camera.

Edgy fashion photo of a woman in stilettos, jeans, and a leather jacket.Hot and Stormy v.2a by Von Trapp Photography 2013.Image created at the Pearl Can Plant in San Antonio just moments prior to a heavy rain.

Here with rain looming and reduced sunlight, the strobe was used to create this punchy and dramatic light.

  Using high powered strobes allow the photo-artist to overpower the ambient light such as in the images above.  In the very top image a strobe appears to be the only light source when in fact the photo was taken at 9am, albeit on a lightly cloudy day.  It could, however, easily be done on a brighter day by increasing the strobe's power of output and adjusting the exposure settings to use the fastest shutter possible.  (Note: In such a case a camera that can flash synch at a higher shutter speed than 1:200 is optimal)     Behind the scenes photograph of a woman in a bikini on a Texas beach.Day at the Beach by Von Trapp Photography 2014.Behind the Scenes of a beach glamour shoot in Port Aransas Texas.

  The Profoto Air units can also be individually turned on and off, their power increased or decreased or a modeling light activated all from behind the camera with a radio trigger.  This creative power, however, comes at a price.  Top of the line units with an external power source and accessories as, seen above, will amount to the equivalent of 5 to 6 months of house payments in many parts of the country.  

  At a considerably lower price point are speed lights, which will give similar control but with much less power when compared to the studio strobes listed above.  Being more portable they will be the better choice for some projects and I keept three for such jobs.  It is possible to buy the necessary gear, in order to pair two or more speed lights for use in one light modifier, such as a soft box or umbrella, to gain more light output for those sunny locations.  You will get more light output by using multiple units in this way, the smaller components will be easier to transport, and there is no need for a large battery pack or AC power as with studio strobes.  But three mid-grade speed lights for one soft box with triggers for each will start to approach the cost of one of my studio heads listed above.  Thus speed lights do offer great results when used in most situations not needing to overpower the ambient light which can be seen in the following 6 captures.  

Photo of a topless woman standing in a window in Austria.Show of Beauty v.2 by Von Trapp Photography 2014A classic use of the white bed sheet being held by a woman in a boudoir portrait. The lighting was setup to accentuate the curves and muscles of this client's body. The exposure was balanced between the sky outside and the strobes lighting the model.
Model/HMU: Amy

  For the next 5 images I used two speed lights with radio triggers.            

San Antonio fashion photographer creates an emotive and edgy glamour image at the Pearl Brewery in San Antonio.Attitude | Austin, Houston Glamour-Boudoir-Fashion PhotographyWe created an edgy fashion look with this photo, playing off the industrial look of the background. Fashion-inspired glamour photo created by San Antonio and Austin fashion and glamour portrait photographer Richard von Trapp.

  I used one speed light and trigger in a 24x24in folding soft box with the front defusing panel removed to create a crisper (harsher) light for a more edgier mood.  A second unit fitted only with a colored gel and trigger is placed some 80 feet away at the end of the corridor facing the camera's position.  I used a tripod to give me the control needed to make slight adjustments in the camera's position to get the light just above the model's shoulder.  A star filter was not used.

Fashion Glamour photo of a sensual and beautiful woman in a sheer bra, opera gloves and pencil skirt.Sheer & Blue Lace v.2a by Von Trapp Photography 2013.

A above and following captures were a similar setup as above except we kept the front defusing panel to create a a lovely soft light, and no colored gel was used. 

Sexy glamour photo of a woman back-lit  wearing fishnet tights, and sheer revealing dress at nighttime.Backlit v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2013Edgy fashion-inspired image photographed by San Antonio Glamour Photographer, Richard von Trapp.

Photograph of a super sexy woman in lingerie standing at a bar.Let Me Get You A Drink v.2a by Von Trapp Photography 2013.

Fashion Photograph taken on location in the German town of Rothenburg.Flick of Red v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2014. | Fashion Glamour Photography


   Artistic lighting that is edgy or the dramatic will require two and three strobe/speed light locations, sometime more to develop the look.  In order to creatively place your light sources in a number of possible locations away from the camera's position you will also need a triggering system.  There are two kinds of cordless triggers, Infra red (IR) and radio.  The IR system has the inherent disadvantage of not working well in bright sunlight, and are line of sight only.  Presuming your creative juices will on occasion have you shooting in daylight (overpowering the sun) you will not be able to always count on the IR triggering included on many upper tiered speed light units.  So you will need a radio trigger for each strobe/speed light head and for the camera.  Radio systems have the added value of allowing you to place units around corners, most up to 200 to 300 feet away.

Texas Glamour Photography sexy glamorous edgy evocative beautiful.Lighting the way by Von Trapp Photography 2014.In the streets and alleys of San Antonio Texas on a client fashion glamour shoot. London felt like a supper model as people came out of local businesses to ask which magazine she was posing for.

Canon strobe on a telescoping pool with a mini soft-box and fired by a radio tigger. 

Fashion-Glamour photograph of a chesty woman hiking her skirt up to flash some leg.Showing a Little Leg v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2014.<span class="large"><strong>Our busty beauty gives us some leg. Photographed in San Antonio, TX. </strong></span><br/> <br/><span class="large"><strong>Model/HMU: London</strong></span>

  So if you are a natural/available light photographer possibly looking for a new creative twist for your work, give controllable-artificial light a try.  If your budget is such as to limit your lust, consider an inexpensive speed light with a guide number as close to or over 100 as possible.  Several simple radio triggers are ever more affordable now.  Depending on brand, an entry level investment of $230 to $450 will get you a speed light and triggering system consisting of a transmitter and receiver.  Additional speed lights and receivers generally run another $160 to $350.  Start with two speed lights and then add light modifiers as your budget allows.

  Flash unites at these price points do not, however, have the through the lens (TTL) capability of pricer units.  The TTL function allows the flash and camera's metering system to communicate to create a "correct" exposure at the moment of taking the picture.  This feature is great when working with quickly changing scenes and subjects such as sporting events, some street photography, news events etc.  But when creating an image with an artfully planned concept, you are best served to set the flash power manually and calculate the settings using a hand held light meter.  One that works with flash is referred to as a flash meter.    

  A hand held (flash) light meter will be the best bit of photographic kit that will take you to a new creative level, both when shooting with strobe and any other light source.  A hand held light meter is so worth the $180 to $600 price tag to get such incredible ability to "get it right".  I am presently using a Sekonic L-478D flash meter and I just love it.  

  If, however, you wish to "do it old school" you can use a chart that gives you the f-stop for a given ISO for a given strobe's power (Guide Number) at a designated distance of flash to subject.  It is quite simple and accurate.  You can learn more about this method online at  Look up the segment under: Catalog, Category: Photo & Video, Topic: Lighting, and find the lesson titled "Crazy Stupid Light" with Scott Robert Lim.  The cost of the course at $129 will be well worth it and can change your world.   Or, you can put this money towards a flash meter - both options will yield great possibilities.  All you need do is try/use them. 

   If you are a creative I hope you will value my essay in some small way.  If, however, you are not a photographer, please read on. 

  If you are someone looking for a photographer, consider the look you want for your final image.  You will be investing some $300 to $900 for most average good quality work.  Now further consider the opportunity to have something out of the norm.  Your investment just became more sound when your images are a work of art.  Conduct an online image search for glamour, beauty, and boudoir photography.  

Fashion Glamour photo of two sexy hot and busty topless women in an Italian palazzo in Venice.An Afternoon with Kim and Kat v.2a by Von Trapp Photography 2017.Coffee and a good book to while away the time, Venice fashion shoot at the palazzo Ca Zen with Kim and Kat.

Model/HMU: Classic Kin and Kat Alexis

  Look at the quantity and similarity of available light photos.  With the considerable cost in terms of lighting equipment, training, and experience it is no wonder that so many professionals are shooting with available light.  However, although gorgeous, you may wish to have images more unique; ones that cannot be created by just any photographer.

The Bride v.2 by Von Trapp Boudoir Photography 2016.The Bride v.2 by Von Trapp Boudoir Photography 2016.Lovely bridal boudoir image of TerryZ taken in Prague. A beautiful bridal boudoir photograph like this is a must for any future of current bride to have in her collection.

Model: TerryZ.

  If you want an image that is styled more like what is seen in fashion magazines, or perhaps cinematic like as seen in movies, you are going to need to find an artist who is doing that kind of work.  I urge you to consider stepping away from the pack and seek something special for yourself.  Now that you have some idea of what is possible, look past what is normal.

Fine art photo of a woman wearing lingerie in a cemetery.Amongst The Many No More v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2018. by VPhoto shoot in a Gouda cemetery. South Holland, The Netherlands.
Model/HMU/Wardrobe: Hrana Model Mayhem #3321656

  The saying amongst professional photographers is that everyone today is a photographer.  With the advent of the camera phone that may seem to be true.  However, I submit that a high megapixel phone camera, with its tiny sensor which is incapable of producing high quality images in the first place, does not an artist make.  Only a creative mind, trained and experience with an artful eye, and yes, often a considerable amount of expensive gear, makes a photo-artist.    

Sexy Cowgirl inspired glamour photo shoot of a hot nippily mature woman in an open white shirt and jeans.Sexy Cowgirl by Von Trapp Photography 2014.Cowgirl Inspired Glamour Shoot

This is one of the several images created for out client who commissioned Von Trapp Photography to create a series of sexy and evocative country inspired images.
See behind the scenes photos from this shoot and others.

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Smoking hot photo of sexy author J.M. Buckler by San Antonio Glamour photographer Von Trapp Photography.Along The Bricks v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2018Photo shoot with author/publisher J.M. Buckler by Von Trapp Photography.
Commissioned photo shoot with by Von Trapp Photography to create several edgy-sexy images for her self promotion.

Fashion Glamour photo of a sexy woman in a shift, on a beach below Greenan Castle in Scotland.Bhean bòidhchead v.1 by Von Trapp Photography 2019.(Title: Lady of Beauty in Scots Gaelic).

Our lovely model graces a beach in Scotland below Greenan Castle on a cold October day to create this image. Von Trapp Photography traveled to the Highlands of Scotland and Lake Distric of England for two weeks of shooting which yielded numerous wonderful captures of fine art.

Model/HMU: Kristy.
Photo Production Assistants: Steve, Mina Smith
Boudoir photo in the old Hollywood style of a woman at her boudoir table holding a mirror..Reflections of Beauty by Von Trapp Photography 2015.Emotive Boudoir Photography

This evocatively glamorous image of Signe was created by Von Trapp Photography at the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
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  Don't settle for the "selfies", ladies.  Invest in a quality professional photographer, be they a natural/available light shooter or otherwise.  You deserve to see and feel your glamour in pictures.                               

Glamour/Boudoir Photography, Austin//Houston//San Antonio Glamour-Boudoir Photographer.Von Trapp Glamour, Fashion, Boudoir Photography. #Austin #San_Antonio #Houston #DallasVon Trapp Photography is a couture photo-artisty service creating evocative fashion magazine inspired beauty and glamour images.                                                                                             Connecting you to your glamour.                        


Winston Cooper(non-registered)
Nice work dude and well done explanation of lighting for glamor and art nude.
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