Kira Derryberry: How I Got the Shot

This month on our blog, Spider Ambassador and professional portrait photographer Kira Derryberry shows us how she “got the shot” pictured above, and completely rocked this fashion shoot with her Spider gear.

My concept was based on this dress…

A friend of mine loaned me her collection of vintage prom dresses for our dressing room at the studio a while back. There was this teal sequined number that I’ve always wanted to base a shoot on. Right now I’m very into choosing a color for a shoot and keeping a monochromatic color scheme, so we used the deep teal color of the dress to base the entire concept around.

The setup and lighting

For the main light on our model, I used a Paul C Buff AlienBees B400 flash unit fitted with the 86” Soft Silver PLM Umbrella with diffuser fabric. I wanted to create a soft, directional light on her that didn’t give too much contrast. I used a 3×4 Silver Reflector from SweetLight to add a little fill.

For the background I chose a blue/green textured tech style drop from Serendipity Backgrounds that I thought wouldn’t compete with the sequined texture of the dress, but still give us a little something of interest in the overall image. I used another B400 unit with a 7” reflector and teal gel pointed towards the adjacent white wall to bounce into the background and give it the necessary color boost that it needed to match the dress more exactly. To keep the color from spilling over to our model, I used a Styrofoam flat as a gobo to block the light spill.

Finally, I connected my Nikon D750 with the Nikkor 70-200mm lens directly to the computer using the 15’ Tether Tools TetherPro USB 2.0 Mini-B 8-Pin Cable and shot tethered straight into Lightroom so I could see exactly what the shoot was looking like in close detail.

Shooting tethered helped me achieve the shot I wanted

Initially we had this set up done with just one light, but in the tests it wasn’t quite coming together. Because we were shooting tethered, we discovered pretty quickly that the background wasn’t photographing exactly the right color to get the look we wanted. This gave us the idea to add a second light with the gel to boost the saturation of the background, getting it to the color we needed in camera. Shooting tethered helps me make decisions on site that I may not have caught if I was just looking at the image on the back of the camera. I try to get as much done in camera as I can before taking it to the retouch phase, so when I tether I can more accurately get the results I want without having to do a lot of postproduction.

A touch of post-processing

Small curves adjustments were made in Adobe Lightroom then retouched and further contrast adjustments made in Adobe Photoshop CC 2015.5 and Alien Skin Exposure 7.

Gear list

The following gear was used to achieve the final looks:

  • Nikon D750
Nikkor 70-200mm lens
  • SpiderPro Holster and SpiderPro Handstrap
  • 
15’ Tether Tools TetherPro USB 2.0 Mini-B 8-Pin Cable
  • 2 Paul C Buff AlienBees B400 units
  • PCB 86” Soft Silver PLM Umbrella with diffuser fabric
  • 
PCB 7” Silver Reflector with teal gel
  • Pocketwizard Plus X Transmitters
  • 3×4 SweetLight Silver Reflector
  • 
5×7 Tech Style Serendipity Background

See it all in action

Special thanks to my crew!

Hair and make up is such a big part of getting it right in camera. Bethany Taylor of Belles Femmes in Tallahassee, FL provided hair and make up for our model and then stayed for the shoot to assist and for any adjustments that were needed. I find it’s so helpful if you can keep your hair and make up artist with you during the shoot to assist because they can really get in there and get the hair just right when it needs it. While our model was getting prepped, my photo assistant and fellow photographer, Amanda Hunter, was with me putting together our set up and standing in for tests. Another set of hands is crucial!

Credits:

Model: Katie Watson
Hair/MUA: Bethany Taylor, Belles Femmes Tallahassee, FL
Photo Assistants: Amanda Hunter, Bethany Taylor
Video Camera Operator: Steve Saccio
Video Editor: Eric Fullerton


Kira Derryberry is a portrait photographer based in Tallahassee, FL. She found her start as a teenager, spending hours in darkrooms in high school and college. Kira graduated with a BA from the University of Alabama with photography as her focus. Knowing how to shoot, but not necessarily how to start a business, Kira leaned on her experience as a web designer for work, taking a job at a Tallahassee based advertising agency for 5 years before making the leap to opening her studio in 2010. Since her studio opening, Kira has developed a strong client base in portraits ranging from children and families, to headshots, commercial work, and boudoir. When not slinging a camera or hanging with her husband and little girl, she spends much of the remainder of her free time playing video games and watching bad science fiction.

Website: www.kiraderryberry.com
Instagram: @shekira
Twitter: @shekira
Facebook: facebook.com/kiraphoto