Hoops, poles and portable lights


I visited the opening party for Body Couture studios in Congleton last weekend.  It’s a fantastic Georgian building with a great gallery staircase, small studio rooms and some other rooms with attractive furniture, and big windows.  One of the studio rooms is equipped with 4 poles and a hoop.  The studio is owned and operated by Becky Hampson, a successful model, and pole fitness instructor.

I had no idea what to expect from this event other than to meet people.  At the last minute I threw a speedlight and a 24″ soft-box and stand into the car.

The event was packed with photographers, models, and makeup generating a great busy atmosphere.  Whilst the studio has some basic lights, and people were shooting, the outcomes were likely to be on the basic side.  Chris and I started shooting models on the hoop – using an SB-900, zoomed out to 17mm with the diffuser attached, and  inside the 24″ soft box.  The room is quite small, and there were a couple of other people in it so we struggled to get distance both for the light and the camera.  So I decided to stick to some tighter shots, minimising the background.

At 1/250th, ISO 100 and f/5.6  on the D800E the room was black and ready for light.  Chris was wielding the light handheld – the only way to go when your model is moving around, hanging upside down and rotating on a hoop suspended from a floor joist in the ceiling.  After a few shots we swapped roles and I played “chase the face” with the light for Chris as Belle, a dancer and part time model, moved from pose to pose.


Using iTTL to control the light from the camera was perfect for this ever changing shot – we could move the light, feather it, move it further away, closer in and iTTL sorted the exposure every time.  Later on, we worked with Stacey (left) and the one-

light in a soft-box (here to camera right, angled slightly downwards, and more or less side-on) worked well.  Chris varied the dtsiance of the light until we got a nice rotation from light to shadow.  I would have killed for a 2nd light to add some accent to Stacey’s hair, however we had just one light – and I like the simplicity of this shot.  The quality of the light was quite soft too, for a relatively small source compared to big studio octa-banks.

We also used the same technique to light some shots at the top of the stairs with Ellie.  Not the last word in lighting, however better than just the ambient which had the models in shadow against a lit background.

I had a fantastic time, met a load of talented people and even made a few simple images  The studio is a little on the small side however if you’re looking for something with a bit more atmosphere than seamless paper, Becky’s new studio venture is worth a look.










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