Ivana. Studio Portraits and Art Nudes

During the warm season, I was mostly shooting outdoor, and my last studio visit was quite a while ago. In November it was pretty cold outside, and there was also no fog which I was hoping for. Therefore, I arranged a studio shoot with Ivana with several sets in mind.

We know each other since several years and made quite some pictures which are valuable for both of us. Cooperation is easy under such circumstances, so we quickly agreed what to tackle in which order while warming up with a cup of coffee.

Light Painting

Almost everybody works with flash in the studio. I have those too, but I like to use less common lighting as well. One of those is a small handheld lamp which I use in the dark to paint light on the scenery.


Cinema light for photography in the studio? For many, this is never considered because any light which does not originate from a softbox or a beauty dish is considered way to hard. I have a set of small Dedolights in the studio, though, and these a capable to create a different light. The light is much more controlleable than with most flashes, and we used this characteristic to partially light our first set.


My new self-made green backdrop was perfect for Ivana’s red hair. No fancy lighting this time, just conventional portrait light which also has its merits.

I made also some polaroids from this set, and I show two of those. As evident, the character is quite different from the previous pictures despite identical setup. Obviously, it is worthwhile to experiment with photographic technique to achieve different results.

Art Nudes

I had the intention to keep this set simple, using a black studio background. I was using a newly purchased light source here, and I was keen to see whether the lighting would meet my expectations. It did; I am happy with it – just as with Ivana’s perfect posing.


I am not keen on standardized photography, and I like to experiment with light. This is not only what is achievable by a softbox or a beauty dish. These two have already a different character, but there are so many other ways to work with light. Obviously, this may have pitfalls, but in the end it is the results which make the difference.

I was even more impressed by Ivana’s superb cooperation. It is simply a joy to work with somebody who shares the enthusiasm for photography and is highly motivated for that reason. The pictures show what this is good for.

Technical Information

Light Painting

Exposures in a dark room in front of a self made mottled grey backdrop.

The reference for such backgrounds are those from Sarah Oliphant. These backdrops are expensive and are mainly rented. Making your own is elaborate and requires expertise which I do not have. Therefore, I asked for some advice from Gisela Richter, who made some body art for me – two of those are on her page. My background can not compete with those from Oliphant, but it is considerably better than most commercial cloth backgrounds. The effort to make such background is worthwhile.

I used a small mobile LED as a light source; exposure time about 20 s. Other than with ordinary light sources, the result is not predictable. In order not to make it too easy, I normally work with film, but the slide film which I normally use is no longer available. Therefore, I occasionally buy older film, but this does not always work out. This time I was particularly unlucky; the film was so inappropriately stored that it was completely dark without a trace of a picture. I make digital pictures as well, which has the benefit that the results can be immediately seen but lack the special character of the slide film.

The pictures were taken with a Fujifilm XT-2 and a XF 1,4/35. A tripod is a must for the long exposure time.

Cinema Light

The same dark grey structured backdrop was used for this set. Two Dedolight DLH-4 served as light sources, one of them with barndoors. These small tungsten lights with only 150 W are much weaker than a studio flash, but the continuous focused light appears so bright that it is not overly pleasant for the model. If you look into the beam of a car headlamp, you know what it is like. These lights cast a harsh sharp shadow, which is not to everybody’s liking. Nevertheless, these are capable lights which I like to use for specific purposes.

One of the lights creates the light bar, the other serves for general illumination.

Pictures taken with Fujifilm GFX 50s and GF 4/32-64


These pictures were taken with a different self made structured backdrop. A 70 cm white beauty dish served as the keylight. In order to compensate the light fall-off on the background, a small striplight illuminated the backdrop on the opposite side. For some pictures, a wind machine was used.

Pictures taken with Fujifilm GFX 50s and GF 2/110

The Polaroids were made with a Polaroid 250 and Fuji FP-3000B – a sought after tear apart film which is no longer made.

Classical Art Nudes

Made with a seamless black paper backdrop. I do not like these backdrops because they are not durable and uneven, causing easily visible shadows with side lighting. This can be retouched with digital captures, but with analog pictures it is not so easy. The set was lighted with a 145×145 cm indirect Elinchrom light bank with a tailor made grid.

Pictures taken with Fujifilm GFX 50s and GF 4/32-64

All digital pictures were taken with tethering with Capture One. This capability has only recently been provided. The transfer is fairly quick even with USB-2 and the large RAW files of the GFX 50s. Besides RAW, I also transfer the JPEGs which allow for immediate judgement of camera settings like crop (sometimes square) and colour/black and white.


You won't get much further without light. But it does not always have to be the same.