23 Mar 2016

Minty and the colored contact lenses

No Comments Photo sessions

How was it possible that I photographed the first Thai girl as late as 2.5 years after moving to Bangkok? I have no idea. One thing is certain, though (I’ve already mentioned it several times): there are no Asian models in Asia – or, to be more precise, they are there, but they constitute just a fraction of the entire industry. Most models in Thailand are Brazilians; you can also meet many Russians, Ukrainians and other girls with Slavic looks.

That time, I knew virtually from the start that Thai girls just had to appear in my photos, too. The photo shoot I’m describing today features a half-Thai girl. I was looking for a pretty model for a photo shoot with Patti Lu, a make-up artist living in Hong Kong (she currently resides in Europe). We hadn’t managed to arrange a meeting the year before, but the second attempt was successful: Patti came to Hong Kong for over a month and that resulted in two photo shoots done together (the second one will soon be presented on the blog, too).

The plan was simple: let’s take beauty shots. Nothing else was defined except a certain direction of editing. Patti Lu did only glossy make-ups, so she wanted clearly visible reflections in the photos. However, nearly all my photographs were definitely matt and high key, without intense reflections on the skin. My portfolio is consistent in this respect at first glance. On the other hand, though, one of my favorite photos is edited otherwise – owing to that, I knew that I should take more shots with visible reflections.


Nikon 810 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | F/5,6 | 1/200 | ISO 64

Asian girls vs European girls

There is one more issue that nicely fits this topic. My first photo shoot in Bangkok had featured a Japanese girl. I hadn’t known back then that Asian girls should be shown in a different way than European girls. What’s the matter? Well, Asians are expected to have light skin, so darkening it had been my biggest mistake possible and I had to correct the entire photo shoot later. The model had said nothing, of course, because it doesn’t become a Japanese, but I finally realized that by myself. In Thailand, being white is even more important. You can easily notice that while watching TV – you need to squint in the glare of their complexion so as not to become blind. Moreover, every cosmetic is a whitening one or at least blocks UV light. Therefore, lighter colors were an obvious goal during editing, but I didn’t want to overdo that: I retained natural colors in the shots (I simply didn’t darken them as I had used to before). Very light skin would be a poor match with such light. Another difference is the aversion to birthmarks or even freckles – I normally retain them in my photos, but when your model is an Asian, it’s a bad idea.

The model was Minty, who contacted me via Facebook regarding a photo shoot. She has very characteristic looks, is 174 cm tall and would also be perfect for glamour-style or nude shots. She participates mainly in lookbook and fashion photo shoots. She is half-Thai; sadly, the other half remains unknown. She is considering a contract in New York, but she currently lives in Bangkok.


Nikon 810 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | F/5,6 | 1/200 | ISO 64

Contact lenses and the look of the eye

That photo shoot had one very serious drawback which I didn’t foresee, though I should have. In Asia, it’s very common to wear contact lenses changing the look of the iris. They can be found all over the world, but they’re extremely popular here: stalls which sell them can be found everywhere. The problem is that such contact lenses are absolutely unsuitable for photo shoots. As long as the frame is wide enough not to show eye details, it’s all right. It gets worse with portrait frames, though Internet resolutions make them fairly acceptable. The drama starts when quality matters. Regardless of what I write, many people will conclude that I exaggerate, so it’s easier to show you an example:


The top photo shows ordinary contact lenses, while the bottom one – lenses changing the look of the iris. It was too late to take them off, though, because I realized their presence when I took a test shot of a nearly finished make-up. I immediately became aware of the scale of that problem because I had already taken photos of a person with something like that on the eyes in Poland… and I’ll never forget my failed attempts to correct and save those shots.

Thus, it was obvious to me that trying to retouch such eyes made no sense because there were not enough details in the photos. That’s why a week after the photo shoot with Minty, I took additional shots of the eyes – with the same lighting, but without irrelevant accessories on the eyes. Finally, I had to remove the irises with colored lenses and insert the irises without them.

The resolution shown on the blog makes the difference too small to notice, but I know that the first print will make me feel grateful to myself for not having retained the original look of the eyes.


I think I don’t need to write a lot about lighting because it was very simple: it consisted of a 70 cm beauty dish with a honeycomb grid (and a Jinbei DPsIII 800 Ws light). There was also a transparent umbrella on the ground with a speedlight (YongNuo YN 560 IV) to light the eyes, but it was placed further away from the model than usual.

When taking shots no. 2 and 3, I used two hair lights in the form of very narrow strip boxes with honeycomb grids (and Jinbei DM2 300 Ws lights), while shot no. 1 was taken with only one hair light.

I didn’t add any other light for the background. Instead of a black reflector that I nearly always use, I applied a cardboard Savage background (color: smoke gray). It was delivered from Poland together with the remaining equipment, but as far as I know, it’s also available in Thailand. If I had positioned it as close as I position the reflector, it would be much too light in the shots – it would be over 50% grey. Positioning it further away produced the result visible in the photos.


Nikon 810 | Nikkor 135mm 2D DC | F/5,6 | 1/200 | ISO 64


I recorded a very short video which shows the lighting setup and a part of the photo shoot. You can check it here: link.


From now on, I’ll always warn models before photo shoots that they cannot wear contact lenses changing the look of the iris.

That was my first photo shoot taken with Nikon D810 and with use of ColorChecker as well as the first one which featured a boom allowing for adjusting light inclination with a low-mounted knob. I took several subsequent photo shoots last month, so I’ll devote separate posts to those issues (i.e. D810 and ColorChecker).

Studio equipment is from Fripers.pl.

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I have taken beauty and fashion shots for a few years. I publish the results of my work on this blog together with photo shoot descriptions, setups, backstage photos and everything that is significant while photographing. I try to diversify the equipment I use during my photo shoots.