As a photographer, personal projects are important to always keep trying out new things and practicing one’s craft while helping to maintain the passion in the art. If we are not constantly experimenting then how are we going to improve? If we are not constantly testing the limits of our comfort zone then how we will discover new areas of interest? If we are not constantly pushing the envelope of our work then our work will become stagnant and “stagnant” is not a description you ever want to assign to your art.
This shoot by Donatella Nicolini came from just that type of thinking.Nicolini is a photographer who mainly works in studio and for this shoot she wanted to find a way to incorporate outdoors and natural elements into her already amazing motherhood portraits. She sees pregnancy and motherhood as the most powerful and primordial force and beauty, as nature itself, which is why she wanted to combine the two. These portraits were taken right after she got her new medium format Fujifilm GFX50S a few months ago.
“It works extremely well with natural light and high ISO allowing me the freedom to experiment with the available light I have in my studio, coming from the windows, and also mix it with strobes.”
For this image, Nicolini used real ear wheat, placing it at different distances. She also attached some to a few light stands and placed one very close to camera while others behind the subjects. The trick is to create different levels of depth, to add dimension and interest to the image. She chose to light the backdrop with a 90cm octa + grid to bring out the beautiful texture of the hand painted canvas without influencing subjects. The main light here is a Profoto B1 diffused with a rfi 5” octa and feathered to get a soft, painterly look. The color of wheat matches the color of the fabric she chose to dress the mom and also matches some of her hair.
The name of the baby girl “LUCE” means “Light”.
Nicolini wanted to create something ethereal and bright for this mother and child. She chose white as a color for both the flowers and the mom’s dress. She then used real cotton flowers, placing them on light stands at different distances, portraying depth like the previous image. The backdrop is also a hand painted canvas, with a light and delicate color, the main light is natural light coming from the windows behind the backdrop.
In this photo Nicolini balanced studio lighting with natural light to change the backdrop color with color gels. The beauty of Profoto strobes is that you can turn the power very low so you can balance studio light with natural light seamlessly. This way she was able to change the color of the backdrop from gray/green to purple directly in camera using a purple color gel to match the color of the flowers, which means less work in Photoshop after the shoot. She then also added a fan to create a natural movement to the mom’s hair, resembling the breeze you’d find in an open field.
All the photos were color graded using Infinite Color Panel.
- Profoto D2 + Purple Gel
- Hand painted canvas backdrops by Artery Backdrops and Milano Backdrops
Image 1: Elodie e Ascanio
Profoto B1 diffused with a 90cm octa + grid to light up the backdrop without influencing the subject Profoto B1 diffused with rfi 5” octa used as main light. She feathered this light to achieve a soft and creamy painterly look Image
Image 2: Lera e Luce
Main and only light is natural light coming from the windows behind the backdrop. The windows are high and angled at 45” Image
Image 3: Chiara e Giada
Main light is coming from the windows, behind the backdrop. Backdrop light is a bare Profoto D2 with purple gel at a very low power so she could balance it with the natural light and change the color of the backdrop without affecting the subjects
Images used with permission of Donatella Nicolini