Tips for a Model Shoot at the Bonneville Salt Flats
This is the first of a series of posts about shooting at the various locations that are part of the UTadventure Tours. Craig will be an instructor on the June 1st-6th tour this summer. Come join him.
Fine Art and Glamour
The Salt Flats lend themselves to a variety of shooting styles, Fine Art Nudes, Fashion, and Glamour. It is almost always windy on the Salt Flats so for fashion I like long flowing clothes, dresses, scarves, capes, etc that will billow in the wind. For glamour you can add fabric; have the model hold the fabric in their hands, wrap it around their body, etc. The wind will often hold it in place on their body which can make for unique looks. The biggest challenge with the wind is that it is not always coming the direction you might like with respect to the direction of the light. Just experiment with your angles and you should come up with some great shots.
Play Around with the Background
One interesting thing about the Salt Flats is there are a lot of different and interesting backgrounds. You can shoot in one direction with mountains in the background, turn 90 degrees and have distant mountains, turn another 90 degrees and have the Salt Flats disappear at the horizon. I like to make use of all of these as well as adjusting my depth of field, shallow depth of field to make the model stand out against the mountains, and a deeper depth of field when shooting towards the flat horizon.
Shoot High, Shoot Low
One thing to watch for when positioning the model is where the background intesects the models body. You don’t want the top of the mountains to be in line with the top the model’s head, or have just a hand sticking up above the mountain. So play around with your shooting height. Shoot low and place more of the model into the sky/clouds, shoot from a higher position and include more of the salt flats in the background. For every shot I am always concious of how the background elements are interacting with the model.
Using the Sun
As mentioned above the Salt Flats are unique in you can shoot in almost any direction and find a good composition. So this allows you flexibility in the direction you want the sun to light the scene. You can get great shots with the sun coming from behind you, or move the model so the light is coming in more to the side, as the sun sets the model’s shadow will get longer and can be an interesting part of the composition. You can also position the model between you and the sun and shoot silhouettes. When shooting directly into the sun I like to have a narrow aperture like f/22 which causes a starburst effect if the sun is in the frame.
Use the Tire Tracks
One of the first things I noticed when I walked out on the Salt Flats is that there are tire tracks everywhere going in every direction. I often will spend the time in Photoshop to remove most or all of the tire tracks from the image, but sometimes I embrace the tire tracks, placing the model so there are interacting with them. They make great leading lines. I will also place models at the intersection of lines, or search out curving lines and make use of them. So think about the placement of the tire tracks in your compositions.
Making the Most of the Terrain
As you can see there a lot of opportunities at the Salt Flats to take a wide range of photos. Mix it up, move around, and explore the space.