Yolandi (Stranger #88/100), London Carnaby Street

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    The cliche goes that South African cities are kind of dangerous places.* When Yolandi, Mish and Knowles balanced asking whether they were safe to wear jewelry in Soho with agreeing to an impromtu photoshoot, I realised the truth was far more nuanced.

    I'd been out with the awesome Arnab in Soho after work - taking lots of pictures of each other in front of a series of viable backgrounds, we'd failed to meet anyone that would spark off them. Late on now, we were ready to wrap things up - Arnab was whizzing around the block looking for people, whilst I stood at the top of Carnaby Street guarding our collection of lighting stands and other photographic paraphernalia.

    Carnaby Street is one of those villainous London streets that combines a high volume of interesting people, with a logo-festooned, roller shuttered paucity of backgrounds. Just as Arnab returned, however, my eye fell on a temporary hoarding outside a shop that was being refurbished. The matt black wooden boards were washed with orange sodium vapour light - maybe a chocolate studio backdrop in the making?

    That's when I heard Mish, Knowles and Yolandi - over in London with work on a team building, exchange event. I'd have asked based on the noise alone - a wild lightning cloud of whopping laughter and high spirits. Seeing Knowles and Mish had amazing coloured scarves, I thrust my kit at Arnab and took off up the street.

    Once they'd agreed and backtracked a little way, and asked about the general safety of the area, we got to shooting - juggling lights and reflectors in turn. Although it'd been the high spirits and bright scarves that had initiated the encounter, when actually shooting Yolandi took on so direct, so compelling an intensity, in fact that's the one I felt would make the best lead shot.

    That said - all are processed! So - if you're reading girls, please do email so I can whizz the files across to you! Thank you so much for stopping - and for getting your own back with a shot of Arnab and I. Hope you had an awesome trip and safe travel home.

    The lighting is based on a technique I've tried to explain on my new photography blog - using umbrellas both as a flash modifier, and to diffuse street lamps. If you were interested in the technique, please do check it out and let me know what you think!

    In terms of basic stats, the lighting is primarily from a Canon 600EX-RT @ 1/128 blocking out street lamps, camera left at 30* and slightly feathered down through a 43" white shoot through umbrella from above eye level, courtesy of VAR extraordinaire Arnab. That's also got a clip on diffuser on it to pull the power back even more. Yolandi's friends Mish (camera right) and Knowles (just below the shot) are holding silver reflectors. There's a second Canon 600EX-RT behind Yolandi shooting at 1/64 onto the background, through it's built in diffuser.

    Apologies to those who commented on the version posted yesterday - I noticed a tiny edge of the reflector in the image which I couldn't live with! Hence the reposting!

    This is portrait #88 of my 100 Strangers Project - check out the group page and get involved.

    *Even with Colin over here in London.

    You might also enjoy my photography blog, including tips for street portraits. It's relatively new, but growing quickly and I'd appreciate a visit and your thoughts!

    Steve-h, Walimai.photo, Kenneth Cox, and 152 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    View 16 more comments

    1. Mart Bee 46 months ago | reply

      Cool portrait !

    2. bomvu 46 months ago | reply

      Cool portrait Matt, there's a super intensity to her eyes and she looks powerful.
      I have to state for the record that my moving from SA to the UK has not impacted on any danger levels or statistics in any measurable form! ;-)

    3. Dan Butch 46 months ago | reply

      Fantastic work what a lovely image.

    4. Escargo2k 46 months ago | reply

      Great work as always, Matthew! another cracker for the set.

    5. The Urban Scot 46 months ago | reply

      Stunning shot, the light is superb and the background works a treat. It's studio styled and the tones all work so well - one of my favourite in a while!

    6. bored leg [deleted] 46 months ago | reply

      I notice this was shot with the 100mm macro, a lens I recently picked up. I think you've inspired me to try it out as a portrait lens. Wow.

    7. Peter Grifoni 46 months ago | reply

      unmistakably your style Matthew.
      You have a knack for morphing everyday people in to super models

    8. J. Javier Nerín.( Busy. Training orcs.) 46 months ago | reply

      Nothing but she emerging from this neutral background, softh transition with her clothes, and this powerful looking.
      Have a great week.

    9. K.A. Sprouse 46 months ago | reply

      There's a lot to like about this one, Matthew. First off, you selected a very attractive model who either has done some modeling or at the very least is good in front of the camera, and both her pose and her expression are great for the more fashion look you were going for. Second, the lighting is spot-on, as is the background. Also, you did a nice job in post-processing of tweaking the image (it looks like you did her eyes, at least) without over-doing it. Really excellent work!

    10. Visual_Presents 45 months ago | reply

      You captured a perfect moment and lit in all the right places....well done!

    11. funpics 47 45 months ago | reply

      Wonderfully done. The lighting is perfect.

    12. B.E.K. Photography 45 months ago | reply

      Awesome as always Matthew... love the direct, intense gaze!

    13. barbasboth 45 months ago | reply

      Absolute stunner. Nice cheeky bit of text showing on her t-shirt too!

    14. Flick'gAbility 45 months ago | reply

      High-quality portrait! The brown eyes and hair are brought out so, so well!

    15. José Eduardo Nucci Photography 45 months ago | reply

      Beautiful work!!!Congrats.

    16. Jackpicks 45 months ago | reply

      Captivating shot and a great description.

    17. Emmanuel RA 45 months ago | reply

      Impressive eyes!

    18. blauepics 45 months ago | reply

      Another great portrait in your series.
      Indeed, her eyes are very impressive!

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