Michelle Castles

​I was recently commissioned to photograph a set of wonderful sculptures created by renowned local artist Michelle Castles. Michelle’s medium is wire mesh and many of her pieces are in human form and in full size, so to photography them properly I needed a lot of space!

Zed studio was the ideal location, especially as Harry was available to assist. Using the very high beams, 5 meters above the floor, we suspended the larger pieces on fishing line and then used heavy C-stands to tie them off so we could continually readjust and fix the rotation.

To properly illustrate the shape of the sculptures it’s really important to get the lighting right and create shadow to show the contours. For the most part we used hard lights, and flagged them where needed to stop any harsh hotspots. Coloured gels were used to give some variation to the scenes.

Some of the pieces had other challenges to overcome, one that stands out is the pair of small figures, one a child, looking up at another, an adult, who is looking back down at the child. We needed to get the angle just right, so we built a rig using my favourite bit of studio gear, the mighty C-stand and 2 boom arms. The upper boom gave us a point to hang the figures, and the lower acted as the ground, placing a piece of black card over shiny stainless surface worked to mask the stand.

Michelle also needed some head shots with her work, I wanted to get her in the middle of several sculptures to give depth to the shot but I wanted her face to be lit softly, whilst keeping the hard lights on the figures. A medium soft-box in a Rembrandt style setup worked well to light her face, and the work retained the style we had established for the individual shots.

We had a great day with Michelle and her amazing work, it’s always great fun to do this kind of photography, as small changes to the position, strength and colour of lights make such striking changes to the resulting images.

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Ben Barden

Mailing Address

​Ben Barden Photography & Film 130 Highgate, Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 4HE