Adriana Lima and Russell James Shoot Live!

Today we have something special for everyone. Back in April, superstar photographer Russell James allowed live cameras onto his set at Pier 59 Studios as he shot supermodel Adriana Lima. The concept is outstanding: Russell gives you a full all access view into the creative process and exposes all his techniques while shooting on his project Nomad Two Worlds. While this full photoshoot requires 7 full length videos, the concept is brilliantly simple: 1 tree, 1 light, and 1 model. You can't get any easier than that....that is if you can secure a supermodel! It also helps that Russell is shooting on Canon's top of the line camera too. Hope this spices up your Monday a little.

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Lee Morris's picture

I am currently trying to get in contact with Russell. I want him to be our next Fstoppers Original. He is kinda difficult to track down though :)

Patrick Hall's picture

Oh and by the way, the real shooting takes place around video #3 and 4 if you don't want to watch the studio tour and see the amount of production that goes into a shoot like this. This whole BTS video is loooong

YEEEESSSSS!!!!!! i think that would be an AMAZING video! haha. i think hed be up for it especially if it helped him push the nomad project a bit.

I am a faa of this guy on facebook and he posts lots of BTS stuff up on there. Mostly pictures but usually 5-8 and he explains them all so you can still get sense of everything even just from pictures. Lee, If you haven't tried FB, try that. He writes back.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Wow. VERY in depth series of videos. I can appreciate that kind of attention to detail!

After reading many internet lighting forums I thought that only stoopid n00bs used Hot Lights. Looks like the internet experts were wrong! 8-D

Also of interest is a non-clamshell beauty shot. The single HMI provided enough light for 1/1000 @ f1.4 and kept her eyes from having wide open irises. Always nice to be able to tell the color of the models eyes.

For all you tech geeks those were Mole Richardson fans. Able to provide from a gentle breeze to a windstorm.

yawn... he could have done this in two vids.

Hey, Russell, get yourself a new videographer bitch, huh?

On the other hand, Adriana is a BABE!!

Send me her phone number.

@c.d.embrey: Hot Lights are for n00bs, the angle of incidence is not important, because I still got unwanted reflections and planet earth is a flat disc. Isn´t it amazing, what you can learn from internet forums? ;-D Those Mole-Richardson Windmachines are on my wish list for Santa. ;-)

@Johnny V: Absolutely! If you cut the blabla out, there is enough material for two videos. :-)

Patrick Hall's picture

Hot lights are the only real way to shoot at wide open apertures like 1.4; with my dynalites I can barely shoot anything less than f14 in the studio.

The reason this video is so long is because it was broadcast live with no cuts. But I agree the video could have been shot better. Russell if you are reading, you need the Fstoppers treatment :)

@Patrick Hall: Hot lights are NOT the only way to shoot at f1.4 :-)
If your flash has too much power you could:
a)use (not all models have these feature) ISO 50 on Canon and Lo-1 (which is ISO 100) on Nikon
b)use a lot of ND gels on your flashhead
c)use ND filter on your lens
d)increase distance between flash and model (not possible in small studios)
e)use hot shoe flashes (mine have 1/256 power setting)
f)buy a 150Ws (or less) studio flash unit if the hot shoe flash can´t illuminate your wishfull lightmodifier
g)extra silk in front of softbox to cut light
h) ...

I think there are other reasons, why Russel used hot lights.
a)no wide open irises -> you could see more eye color
b)1/1000 shutter speed -> flash sync is max. 1/250 or less
Why is 1/1000 importand? He used a 85/f1.2 lens, to hold such a lens in focus at f1.4 without camera shake you need at least a shutter speed of 1/170. Canons 5D Mk II, for example, has only a flash sync speed of 1/160. Now use a 135/f2 lens :-P
c)no worries if the flash could take a high framerate because hot light is alway there ;-)
d)video for BTS like hot lights, because it really confusing if you see flash -> black screen (little modeling light) -> flash -> black screen

We know the reason why this video is so long, but the Fstoppers treatment would be great. :-)

In this instance Kennie, I think Patrick is right. First, no professional photographer of this caliber is going to use cheap speed lights or put ND filters in front of $2400 lenses. Also the shutter speed issue with the 85 1.4 lens is just not correct. As long as your frame is totally dark (ISO 100, f1.4, 1/100 even), then you can shoot flash and get a sharp image. You have to remember the flash duration is essentially the exposure. You could shoot at f1.4 and 1 second long and get a sharp photo with strobe as long as there was no ambient light within that 1 second.

I think this is how all high end photographers shoot fashion with shallow depth of field. It would be interesting to know how many shots out of Elle or Vogue have any speed lights used in the lighting....I'd bet none.

You do have a point with lighting for video but then again, they didn't do anything to help the first 20 minutes of this video so it seems they weren't concerned with lighting for video in the first place.

@James: The tips are for "normal" shooters, not Russell and other pros. I would also shoot with HMI lights, the only thing which IS not correct is the fact that you could not shoot f1.4 with flash. You could! No ND filters in front of $2400 lenses? Yes for sure! But enough ND gels over your flashhead as mentioned. No pro would use hot shoe lights for fashion but as I say, we are not talking about pro shooters when the question is "could I only shot f1.4 with hot lights". ;-)

"Also the shutter speed issue with the 85 1.4 lens is just not correct. As long as your frame is totally dark (ISO 100, f1.4, 1/100 even), then you can shoot flash and get a sharp image. You have to remember the flash duration is essentially the exposure. You could shoot at f1.4 and 1 second long and get a sharp photo with strobe as long as there was no ambient light within that 1 second."

hehe ^_^ Yes of course sir, cut b) out of that post.

Of yourse I would also use hot lights. Take 10fps (some pro shooters use the 1d mk vi)with flash? You would need a nice power pack to hold up with that, no problem with hot light.

HMI is also "what you see is what you get" no more few hundret Watt modeling lights vs. powerfull xeaon flash tubes. ;-)

An expensive Profoto 8A 2400 has an Energy Range of 10 f-stops (4,7-2400Ws). Yes 4.7 Watt Seconds. Able to shoot 20 frames a second.

A relatively inexpensive Profoto AcuteB 600R has an Energy Range from 9Ws to 600Ws and should be able to shoot about 6 FPS at lower power (Recycling Times, lead acid battery, 0.09-2.5s). This is what I use. The AcuteB2 600 has a recycle time of 0.06-2s with a LiFe battery.

I really like HMIs, but they take a lot of power to run. You can plug a 200 watt, 400 watt 800 watt and a 1200 watt into the wall, A larger light, like what was shown in the video, won't plug into your wall 8-D

In the past I've used M-R, LTM and Arri, but presently I'm using K5600 AHA owns a 200 watt and a 400 watt Joker-Bug which we use with a Mola Euro, Chimera softboxes and PAR fixtures. AHA shoots local commercials and industrial videos.

I'm trying to find the pictures of this shoot online. I've browsed through Russells site and I've googled but I can't find them. I'm going to try something likewise and I would like to see his end result. Can anyone help?

A hot light, a tree and a gorgeous girl = stunning images. Who would have thought? ;)

Awesome work by Russell once again.


Strobe as hotlight: another option for less light.
Luckily, my twin head has a 500W modeling lamp. I've used that without popping the flash.