It’s been a while since Laura Hollick and I created a new image for our Live Your Spirit series. We planned for an outdoor image, showing Laura posed like a white tree in a white winter landscape. We drove around through the country until we spotted the perfect location, just outside of a little church in Westover, Ontario. It had what we needed: a place to park nearby, a slight hill covered in snow, and a not-too-distracting background.

We did a few test shots to get an idea of the composition of the final image.

We had to work quickly. Although the thermometer read above zero, the wind was whipping in towards the camera, and quite violently too. I would estimate it was coming in at about 60-70 km/h, making it feel much colder than the true temperature. My light stands kept blowing over, and I had to dig them deep into the snow so that they would stay up. It’s a good thing hair and makeup artist Sue Upton affixed the wig very securely to Laura’s head, otherwise we could have had a real hair disaster that day!

Our plan was to wrap Laura tightly with white fabrics to create the tree costume. I moved as quickly as possible to clamp the fabrics around her using plastic clips. Canvas cones would create the “root” system of the tree. However, because the wind was so strong, the fabric kept blowing loose. We decided that we were going to work with what nature gave us, and I shot a number of frames of Laura dancing with the flapping fabrics. The tree quickly transformed into a winter wind angel. We couldn’t shoot for long, because it was extremely cold, and there was real risk of windburn and frostbite to Laura’s exposed skin.

After reviewing the images in the car, we decided that the canvas cones weren’t “reading” as well as we’d imagined, so we went out again to shoot some more photos of the base of the dress without the cones. I later blended one of these cone-lessย  bases into the image using Photoshop.

This image is technically a little different from my other ones. Usually, I shoot with lenses wide open so that I get shallow depth of field and can isolate my subject. In this case, because I needed a shutter speed of 1/200 to sync with the strobes, the aperture had to be set to the polar opposite, f/22.0. This was the about one stop underexposed for the natural light, and it gave us a very mysterious looking sky, with the winter sun struggling to gleam through the low clouds. I lit Laura using two Alien Bees B800 strobes at nearly full intensity, powered by the Vagabond II battery pack.

Here’s the final image.