In between pandemic lockdowns this year, I only had the opportunity to shoot a handful of times. Of course, one of those had to be with Ashley Drew, who I’ve worked with more often than anyone else in the past few years.
We once again hit the beach at sunrise. While in the past I’d typically choose a location where Ashley would be backlit by the marvellous sunrise colours, this time I specifically chose an area of the beach where the sun would be hitting her directly, for a different feel.
We got to the beach at the ass-crack of dawn, when the wildlife in the Scarborough Bluffs area was active. Ashley’s video below shows the cute deer we saw before the sun had breached the horizon, and you can hear her do her best nature documentary voiceover.
Just as the sun was about to emerge, Ashley stood in front of the pastel skies and I illuminated her with just the little white bounce card from my on-camera flash. It’s not something I do very often, but because there was a huge cliff behind me reflecting no light at all, I had to pop a little bit of light on to Ashley artificially.
Suddenly, we had light! Because of the slight cloud cover, the position of the rising sun behind the tree line, and the cliff we were standing next to, the direct rays of sunshine mostly illuminated the cliff in the background (see the orange glow behind Ashley).
I’ve really fallen in love with prime lenses over the last two years. Whereas most of my previous outdoor photo shoots were done with the Nikon 70-200 ƒ/2.8 VR II as my primary lens, it’s taken a backseat now to my Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G. I used the 85mm for most shots here and the Nikon 50mm ƒ/1.4G (which I’ve since replaced with the Tamron 45mm ƒ/1.8 VC) for a handful of photos as well.
I really like the colour of this orange bikini from Zaful. Ashley was a trooper and climbed the rock pile from a previous cliff collapse so that we could get a few shots. Just a week or so after we were here, part of the cliff collapsed again, and then again a few weeks after that. The bluffs have been eroding for centuries (the debris falls into the lake and it’s what created the Toronto Islands) so it’s a known risk for all the visitors. At one point we felt a couple small pebbles rain down on us and we scattered — but luckily it was just a mischievous bird clinging to the cliffside.
You can see here how the sun was moving, slowing inching its way across the rocks.
Then – boom! The full sun hit the spot we had setup in, and the warm light and orange bikini contrasted amazingly with the blue sky in the background.
That photo directly above might be my favourite one of all of 2020.
Lastly, we moved back onto the sand and found just a small sliver of the sunlight to put Ashley in, as the neon green Zaful bikini she was wearing was way too intense for the full power of the sun. It’s amazing how quickly it became overexposed in my test shots and ended up looking more of a yellowy-white. Thankfully with the lighting here and careful post-processing, I was able to keep the neon green looking accurate.