• afternoon
  • hands up to face
  • Soft Light
  • soft
  • Shade
  • Playful
  • Outdoor
  • Natural Light
  • Natural
  • Model
  • Mid range
  • lower thirds
  • Leading lines
  • half filled frame
  • autumn
  • gentle
  • Forest
  • female
  • ebony
  • dark skin
  • Cloudy
  • Closed Eyes
  • calm
  • bush
  • branches
  • Black woman
  • black
  • woman

The story behind the image

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Stella, the model, reached out to me several years ago about a photo project she had in mind and asked if I could help her bring it to life. We had an amazing shoot and now, though I moved away, whenever I am back in town I try to see if we can connect again for a photo shoot.

I happened to be visiting the town again and reached out to her in March to see if she had any ideas in mind, as she is creative herself! She said she had been envisioning an ethereal shoot, fairytale-like out in the woods or a meadow. From there, we found a nearby location and had about an hour to make a shoot happen.
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Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

Typically, I give more direction to models/clients however Stella is such an incredible talent! I asked the model to gently frame her face with her hands. Since she was quite experienced, she did it flawlessly.

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What did you say?

“Frame your face delicately with your hands.”

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Tone of Directions



Walking through a park, we came across a twisted mess of branches that seemed to naturally have a center point and place to frame a subject. I directed Stella where to stand so the branches intersected above her head.

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Lower Thirds


Describe how you spoke to your subject(s)

I always want to make sure that I nail focus on the subject’s eyes. I focused on her iris (while her eyes were open) and maintained the same focus point as she moved through various poses with her hands and expressions. She was consistent in her placement however so I did not need to refocus during this sequence.

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Focus Mode

Single Shot Autofocus

Focus POints

Single Point

Focused on


Equipment &

Canon 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
1/4,000 @ f/2.8 ISO800 WB-Auto

The way the EXIF is written out follows the common photographic method (with the inclusion of White Balance at the end). Here it is broken down:

Shutter Speed @ Aperture ISO White Balance.

Light & Weather

I used daylight only for this shot. The sun was behind the model, but she as standing in even shade due to the branches and trees behind her. I always try to find even lighting when shooting subjects.

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Light Type

Natural Light

Time of day


Editing Workflow

How did you edit this image?

I like to edit true to color with a little added richness and depth. I use a custom preset that I’ve tinkered over the years, but my plan is to sell and develop a line of presets in the future! After I get the tones, white balance, and exposure to my liking in Lightroom, then I pull the images into Photoshop. In Photoshop I use a frequency separation action to smooth skin that I downloaded from a tutorial on Phlearn. I love keeping the natural texture of a model’s skin so frequency separation is a great way to smooth out imperfections while keeping the image looking natural. My final step is to use light and dark exposure brushes to highlight and contour the subject’s face.

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Editing Software
Adobe Lightroom Classic


The biggest challenge was shooting in a semi-urban area with a multi-use trail and even some houses nearby while trying to maintain some semblance of a real woodsy or forest feel.

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The trick was to just keep exploring and moving around the area. We found this spot right at the very end and we could have easily overlooked it if we didn’t keep our eyes open.

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Location Name

Boise, Idaho

Location aDDRESS

4049 S Eckert Rd, Boise, ID 83716

Loation Type



United States

My advice is to really explore the area that you are shooting! This shot, my favorite from the session, was actually one of the very last pictures I took. We kept walking through the park looking for interesting backdrops and this spot was found actually when we were walking back to our cars! I thought that the branches looked interesting and asked if she would mind stopping for a few more pictures.

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