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I’m quite proud to have been chosen to take the first images of the new dress collection of La Maison de Haute-Couture Lionnet Fauzou. This new dress collection is based on the masterpieces of Mauritian artist/painter Vaco Baissac. Very well designed, very colorful, it’s a real pleasure for the eyes.

Here are some images I’ve taken, some of the dresses’ designs and a few Vaco Baissac paintings which inspired Ainais Lionnet and Fabien Fauzou, the 2 young and talented Mauritian designers.

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Dear friends,

I am very pleased and proud to announce that our first stop motion movie is on its final steps of production. We (Jasbeer and I) are very proud because this is quite of an achievement that we have done with this short film. And it is a real team work, that looked almost impossible and too challenging a fews months back. But we have successfully met this challenge, and here it is: we are almost there with our first movie ! :)Here is the cover image of our short film, named: “In my Dreams”:

Synopsis: A boy and a girl dream about each other even though they have never met in real life and despite sharing the same passion for ballet, until one day …

But let’s go back to the origins of this beautiful artistic creation. This short stop motion movie has a nice ground story, as it is the combination of 3 arts: ballet dance, photography and 3D animation. The project was born a few months ago, when I contacted Jasbeer, a Mauritian drawer expert in 3D animation who was freshly back from the UK, to propose her to combine her drawings with my photography. When we first met, early April this year, we talked about a few ideas that we would like to achieve together … but really, one project triggered our full attention: the ballet stop motion project was born !

Thanks to the images that my friend Khatleen Minerve took of Meeyin Qiu, I knew there were some ballet dancers in Mauritius. Actually, we now know that there are several schools of ballet dance in Mauritius ! We contacted Meeyin, who then contacted a male ballet dancer, Christopher Charme – after our first meeting, late April, we were all very motivated to go ahead with this project. However, everything had yet to be achieved and we had lots of technical issues to solve.

First, we had to change my normal white photo studio (well it was more turning towards grey than pure white 😉 ) into a “green bubble” i.e. a green screen from ground to ceiling. Green screens are commonly used in the audio-video, cinema and TV industries as they are easier to remove during the editing process. So here we were, painting the ground in green, and creating green curtains for the walls and ceiling …

It was not easy to fix the ceiling curtain !!

The studio was then greeny ready 🙂 In the meantime, Jasbeer and I had worked a lot on the script of the story, cutting it in several sequences. Eeverything has been planned from the acting, the emotions, the background description, the color cast, the timing and number of frames for each sequences, the dancers’ outfits, the angle of view to the lighting and even its temperature ! Our dancers had then to meet to think of a choreography  and we had a few test shoots to solve the last technical issues.

 The beautiful Meeyin.

For the ones who don’t know what is a stop motion movie – this is a movie made of lots of still images rolling at 24 frames per second. Therefore, to see 1 second of film, you have to shoot 24 images. Linked to this fact, there are several constraints, like for instance, to capture a movement, you need to trigger the shutter quite quickly to get a flawless movement. I will certainly write about this in a later post. For the moment, let’s share some behind the scene images so that you have an idea of the whole stuff 🙂

First tests – Jas

First tests – Jas 2 🙂

During the planning process

Meeyin getting ready

The set up

Studio views 1

Studio views 2

Editing

Studio views 3

Studio views 4

Jasbeer choreographer 1

Jasbeer choreographer 2

Jasbeer choreographer 3

Jasbeer choreographer 4

Looking for the correct marks 🙂

I should have been a dancer 😉

What is it ? Ballet or rock ? 😉

A Sunday at work – visit of my kids

Jasbeer directing

Jasbeer directing 2

Chloe 1

Chloe 2

Proud Chloe 🙂

A nice angle

During the shoot

Shooting portraits

Flying Jul 🙂

Portraits

Meeyin and Christopher having fun

Editing

Editing 2

Editing 3

In total, the whole project took us about 3 months of work – 1 of planning, 1 of shooting (3 week-ends and a half of shooting) and 1 of post-processing (mainly Jasbeer). Some 4,000 images were taken, for an end result of a bit more than 3 minutes of film. It was a lot of work and efforts, but it really worths it … and we had so much fun ! 🙂

Now we just have to wait for a few more weeks before the last and final version of the film is over – then we will release it for film festivals, and then on the Internet. Let’s be patient ! 😉

Thanks for reading.

It’s been now a few months that I have opened my studio in Coromandel; however, due to a very busy agenda, I still haven’t been able to really start shooting in it. Also it still needs to be a bit renovated and better furnished, to properly welcome clients, models, make-up artists … Eventually, I have recently painted the shooting stage in green for a personal project which will combine 2 types of art – photography and animation. I’ll write more on this later on.

When launching my studio, I had in mind to widen my scope of photography to fashion and commercial photography. Recently, I put a first step into the small world of fashion in Mauritius … but not the studio. I took the opportunity of the first Fashion Photography Contest in Mauritius to gather a first small team around me to be able to submit nice images for the contest. This team was composed by Pawan Cavalli – fashion designer; Mélanie André – model; Valérie Lee – make-up artist; Nicolas Malachie – assistant. The shoes were provided by Bella Donna and jewels by Svarowski. Finally, I got some assistance from Sachin Sagar (he lend me some pieces of photographic equipment) and from East-Sider (which provided me with the male mannequin). Pawan designed and created an absolutely stunning dress, using the latest technology and materials, specially for this shoot. As usual, Valérie did an awesome make-up on Mélanie, who was the perfect model for the occasion. Finally, Nicolas’s assistance and help was extremely valuable, as I wouldn’t have been able to set-up all the lights without him. All this was put together in less than 10 days, and for free, which was quite improbable ! 😉 (the idea of the male mannequin even arose in my mind on the same morning as the shoot itself !)

To participate to this contest, I had to submit 2 fashion images before a certain date – and the last free date we all had was actually the day before the deadline. And on that day, the weather was quite grey, windy and rainy on the whole island ! I had decided to do the shoot at Cap Malheureux, the Northest point of the island. It rained almost the whole trip to there, and finally, the sun came out and we had a wonderful sunny afternoon ! Here are some images I took on that shoot:

After submitting my entries for the contest, I posted some images on my Facebook fan page. A few hours later, I got a message from Alexandra Weber Isaacs, who is promoting fashion in Mauritius through her nice and interesting blog. She wrote that my images were nice and pleasant to look at, and technically well realized, but that I missed some elements to compose some really excellent fashion images. Although I don’t deny it, as it was one of my first fashion shoot, it made me think of the definition of “fashion photography”. What is fashion photography really about ?

Alexandra’s definition is as such: “The principal aim of fashion photography is to combine two elements: the perfect presentation and display of a product and doing this in an original way that blends in and enhances a particular mood.” My opinion is that this definition isn’t fully complete as it missed an important piece of the subject: the model. To me, fashion photography is a kind of portrait photography for which the model wears some fashion items that are presented and displayed in an original way, respecting a certain concept and mood. To say it in another way, there is very little difference between fashion photography, portrait photography, modeling, glamour … Honestly, I am still not sure if I am shooting fashion images or just portraits of models, but to put this internal debate in my mind to an end, I got a part of the answer from contradictory comments on the same image – someone wrote that the mood, model and product did not work up to their combined potential and that it could have been better, stating that the male mannequin didn’t fit the mood or the location / on the same image, other people commented that this is one of the best concept image they have seen for a while and that it is a totally great and interesting concept, looking like a surrealist painting, Dali-style.

With this ambiguity in my mind, I came to the Fashion Photography Contest‘s final (I was selected among the 4 finalists) with the idea of building my own “fashion” style. Being a finalist of that contest meant to shoot 2 imposed concepts, with 2 models each. Dresses and outfits were specially designed for the occasion by La Maison de Haute Couture Lionnet Fauzou and by Sanjeet Boolell; models were provided by Mathis Models, directed by Karen Nicolini; make-up artists were Dominique Chan and Cédric Lanappe; shoes and accessories were provided by Bella Donna and the Mauritius Glass Gallery (which designed some amazing shoes in glass ! – see below). The day was really fun and tiring, it made me think of the TV show “Top Chef” for cookers – we had 2 imposed themes, on an imposed location (L’Aventure du Sucre) – although we could pick up whatever place we wanted inside the domain -, we got to know the models, the outfits and dresses and the accessories only a few minutes before starting the shoot. Finally we had a fixed limited time to complete the task, which was to create 2 fashion images by concept + 1 individual portrait of each model.

The first concept I had to shoot was about 2 queens: a dark/devil queen who wants to invade the territory of the white butterfly queen. The outfits were really amazing, the models acted very well. For this concept, I was inspired by the Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill”, mainly the scenes in Japan with swords. On the field, I have looked for potential swords and found that sugar canes would perfectly fit both the place and the swords. Then I looked for a “grungy” place and found out an outdoor facade with a lot of textures, geometrical items, old stairs … Perfect for the mood I wanted to create. For all the below images, I wanted to convey a feeling of the strength of their fight, their anger and spirit of revenge ; I also wanted to experiment new angles, using the background for composing my images. To do so, I had to face some difficult elements, such as a strong and harsh sun (it was 11am), I had to climb on a not-so-stable ladder to find new angles, I used a fan to blow some air opposite to the existing wind … – it really looked like a “super-production” from the outside 😉

The second concept I had to shoot dealt with a soldier, coming back from the future to save his beloved princess who was imprisoned in a steel jail. For this shoot, I had to find futuristic inspirations in the locations and in the outfits, which were also really great. The huge engines of the sugar cane plant, the wheels, the wooden boat, the tubes, all in all formed a good set-up for picturing my tale. Because I have apprehended this shoot as a story in 4 steps (images), with the soldier cruising back through future, her beloved princess in her wheel jail (inspiration from “Modern Times”, Charlie Chaplin), the soldier climbing to deliver her and finally the start of their romance. Here I wanted to show the power of love in a futuristic place, using the great-but-difficult-to-deal-with background. It was very dark indeed and my challenge was both to keep as much ambient light as possible and darken all unnecessary disturbable elements. This second shoot was also very challenging for my team as we had to change lighting set-ups 5 times, at 5 different places … within 1 hour and 15 minutes !

Last but not least, I would like to thank a million times Ali Ghanti and my wife – they have assisted, helped and supported me during this whole long and hectic day. The work of an assistant is very interesting but also very demanding – you need to be proactive, to anticipate, but also to react very quickly; you need to suggest and propose improvements in lighting, posing, framing … Both Ali and Diane did that perfectly ! Thanks a lot again !

And wish me good luck for the results ! 🙂

Until recently, I always believed there are 2 types of lighting school – natural light and flash photography. Being a natural light photographer, I had in my mind that natural light was the best quality one and that a photographer using it well was someone able to adapt himself to any kind of situations (and I still think this is true 😉 ). Also in my mind, the role of flash was more to light a dark scenery or fill-in the shadows – this is obviously the main basic role of a strobe (flash). Finally, using flash had some major drawbacks for me: first strobes flatten perspective hone on-camera; second, when off-camera, it requires to move a lot of equipment (a tripod stand, an umbrella or a soft-box …) and this is really not convenient during a wedding and without assistant.

So, with those negatives mindsets against flash, I have launched my studio activities in Mauritius last year … and from then, I have rediscovered the power of flash, the one I learned some years ago during my photography degree in Paris and the one I used on assignments with professional photographers in Europe and in Asia. However, this really was about using big huge studio flashes, either in a studio or outside, and this required a lot of equipment and assistants (I have very recently assisted a Belgian photographer for a Paris Match reportage in Mauritius, using those big huge studio flashes outdoor – you can have a look here). Here comes a technique that is now, I guess, quite well known by professional photographers – it is called “strobist“. This term of strobist was named by David Hobby (and it’s copyrighted), who is one of the 3 masters of flash photography with Joe McNally and Zack Arias. Just have a look at their work and you’ll understand the power of small flash (strobe) photography ! Very briefly, the technique consists of having your flash off-camera i.e. from a different angle than the one of your lens. You can use 1, 2, 3, 10 different flashes to compose the light of your image – this gives you incredible creative possibilities and precise master of your light. Also, used with effective light modifiers (umbrella, soft-box, grid, diffuser, beauty-dish, snoot …), small strobes can achieve great results !

Knowing that you can get amazing results with just a few pieces of equipment, made me rethink the way I was shooting my outdoor wedding portraits. I used to use natural light and reflectors, which is still the way I operate 80% of the time, because it’s very practical in the fast-paced environment of a wedding. But now I also use my mobile lighting equipment to get images I was previously not able to shoot AND to precisely craft and master light to get stunning images with a lot of character (light creating soft or contrasted shadows). My equipment is pretty basic – 3 Nikon sb800 (I might buy a couple of sb910 soon), some stands, umbrellas, soft-box, color gels, reflectors, diffusion panels and radio triggers. I had this equipment for quite a long time, and I used it indoor (for corporate portraits for instance) – but I was reluctant to use it outdoor, because of the wind. So here comes the small detail that makes the whole difference: some weighting bags, given by my friend Michel Gronemberger, professional photographer in Belgium. With them filled with sand or rocks, my stands with umbrellas won’t fall down, even with some wind.

OK, enough said about my ways to flash photography ! Let’s have now some examples of a wedding I shot last week, without assistant – the wedding of Tara and Stephan in Tamarin. What I did was really simple, and the results were great. I simply thought of 2 lighting set-ups, one on the beach, on in the gardens – except those 2 settings, the whole wedding reportage was shot as usual, with natural light.

The first lighting set-up on the beach could not have been simpler than that – a one light set-up, with 1 Nikon sb800 triggered in a shoot-through umbrella, camera left, iTTL mode, +1EV compensation. The idea was to shoot the couple with the sea and the nice sunset behind them. At that time, the sun was hidden by some beautiful clouds and a few rays of sun light was coming out of them. The ambient light was very soft, but the background was pretty clear (explaining the +1EV compensation to the iTTL mode) – this bright background was also used as rim light i.e. the back light that defines your subject outlines. When you are taking pictures with flash, it’s better to go on your camera manual mode – first, you need to take an ambient light image to check which amount of ambient light you need in your final image; then you check the amount of flash light you need to light your subject; finally, you check the balance between ambient and flash light, in terms of amount of light, quality of light (the position of your flash towards your subject) and colors of light. Here’s the result:

Without any strobe, reflector … and measuring light for the whole frame, you get this type of result (which I love as much as the previous one 🙂 ):

 

The second lighting set-up I used for this wedding was later in the dark. I heard from the owner of the bungalow where the couple was staying that April is the only month in the year when you can have the full moon rising right over Black River, a beautiful river running just down the bungalow’s garden. On that specific day, it was full moon, the sky was cloudless and the moon’s reflection on the river was sensational. Very close to the river was a small pirogue, under a nice tree, both lit by a warm yellow directional spot. The whole difficulty here was to get enough ambient light while it was very dark. After my first test shot for ambient light, I was at ISO 3,200, f/2.8 and 1/20th. If those set-ups are tough for move blur of the background, there’s no risk of getting a blurry couple in my image as the flash will fix them in this very dark environment. Anyway, I had to hold my breath to get some sharpness in my background … The lighting set-up was composed of 2 Nikon sb800, the spot on the boat and tree, and the full moon. 1 sb800 was on-camera and was used as fill-in and commander for the second flash – it was in Manual mode at 1/32 power. The second sb800 was camera left, with shoot-through umbrella, iTTL mode and -1EV compensation (to compensate from the very dark environment). Here’s the result in those 2 different images (both with similar lighting set-up):

And seated on the boat:

Thanks for reading, guys 🙂 Have a good week !

Dear friends, I’m sorry I have been so long since my last post here. Things are moving quite fast for Pixel in the Box and I have been very busy on new assignments and new projects.

Today, I would like to share with you the story tale of a profile studio portrait I did of a friend in January this year. Since I have a studio in Mauritius, I have been taken up a lot for outdoor contracts, so that I have not yet been really able to take profit of this great indoor asset. However, I have lots of idea of portraiture, and, earlier this year, I wanted to test some of them with a female model, my friend Khatleen.

What I really wanted to do with her was testing dramatic lighting conditions on her brown skin. Also, since she has a wonderful prominent haircut, I had the idea to show its volume in a profile image of Khatleen. For drama, I used a black background and a specific lighting set-up – I needed the light to hit only part of her face, creating deep shadows with a very shallow transition. However, the light still had to be quite soft to enlighten a black female beauty. Finally, I had to use a second light to lit her hairs to create a volume effect on them.

Here is the setting I used :

The model has to look straight away, let’s say at midday position – then, your main light, a large soft-box placed around 1 meter away of your model face has to be placed at 2 o’clock position. The second light is placed around 2 meters away of your model to hit her hairs – I used a snoot to only focus the light on them. And here it is, very simple isn’t it ? Everything lies in the position of your light sources – you can try to move them a bit for different effects.

The feelings I have each time I look at this image are the ones I would have when admiring an old statue of a black divinity of beauty or something like this … 😉

Dear friends,

I am very happy and proud to announce the opening of Pixel in the Box studio, which is based in Coromandel. Although I still need to find a few accessories, I can already propose  lots of services – personal portfolios and fashion images, corporate portraits and images, family and kids portraiture, commercial images, products images … I have loads of ideas I’d like to realize in my studio and share with you !

Also, since I have a lot of space there, I will be able to propose some photography courses soon. More news about this to come in a few weeks.

Those services are only available on appointment. Thus, please don’t hesitate to contact me for a quote and to book your photo session !

Yesterday, while setting up all my equipment, I have shot a few trial images with my wife, Diane (who is not a model and who doesn’t like to pose hahaha 🙂 ), to check if everything is working fine. Here are those very basic first images taken in my studio:

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