I didn’t get to know San Francisco until I started doing photography.
I lived in San Francisco most of my life and I had been all over it. I just didn’t know it. I never appreciated what it had to offer but I am glad that I do now. I feel so spoiled, and fortunate to live in a place that feels like the world and its cultures are only blocks apart. But it’s not just the culture, but the food that matters. Kidding, it’s the people that matter (and their foods). I like food, okay?
The corner of Front & Vallejo in San Francisco
The lovely @asiacereola
Like with most people I’ve shot with in recent years, I found Asia through IG. Wonderful woman, with a wonderful look, and as I found out the day we shot, amazing person.
I previously passed by Front & Vallejo a bunch of times. There’s nothing necessarily here but if you’ve gone anywhere by Embarcadero you’ve probably passed by it. Although I don’t like plain walls, I do tend to like bricks and anything with texture. The building on this corner is one of the few buildings left from the Gold Rush days, which for me is cool to know these kinds of places still exist.
We shot around mid day and shooting in this kind of light makes things tough sometimes. You need a lot of flash to overpower the sun and a lot of flash brings out highlights if you’re not using modifiers. Modifiers, like soft boxes, can reduce your flash power by half if not more. If you don’t have enough flash power, you can end up with odd shadows because the sun will create a set of shadows and your flash will create another set. Either way you go, you will have challenges.
What I did for the first look is that I had Asia face away from the sun so that we wouldn’t have to deal with those shadows. I was using a lot of speedlights together and although each individually are weak, together they generate a good amount of flash power. The background ended up being a brighter than I would have liked but I brought down the brightness of the background in post processing. I could have used more flash power on Asia but it would have made the lighting flatter than I would have liked so I avoided using too much flash. Smaller lights tend to produce harsher light and I find the more power I use with them, the less I like the light in this kind of situation.
I shot most of the first look an angle, or with the brick wall in frame to get a background that wasn’t as bright. I did want some shots with the overly bright city backdrop also. You can tell that I used more flash in the standing shots, which resulted in more highlights from the flash but also a darker background than the shot where Asia is sitting down.
The second look was more straightforward. We shot it in the shade and I used a monolight with a soft box. I could have just used natural light but I always like that little extra pop that flash adds.
Check out the shots and behind-the-scenes video below.