MATERNITY PORTRAIT PHOTO SESSION AT DURDE DOOR DORSET
DURDLE DOOR BEACH IN DORSET, England, UK
Durdle Door Dorset is a natural cliff-type limestone arch on the Jurassic Coast in England. Durdle Door is probably the most famous stone arch anywhere in the world. It was created when the sea pierced through the Portland limestone around 10,000 years ago.
This is a famous place to visit for the tourists and not only.
Durdle Door is one of my favourite places to go to relax.
I love this place, it’s perfect for photos of all kinds, from portrait to landscape photography as well as night photography of stars, astrophotography. Durdle Door is very charming and has a beautiful, fabulous beach with turquoise and blue water. The entire coast, including the high cliffs and the caves, is an amazing attraction for a tourist. A real paradise for a photographer. It is worth going there and visiting this place. You can rest, chill and relax.
Near the beach, there is a holiday centre, where you can rent a holiday cabin or the camping site. Perfect for photographers of the night landscape. You can take spectacular photos of the Milky Way, our galaxy seen in the night sky, or breathtaking sunrise and sunset shots. On this day we went to a pregnancy photo session. This session was special to me. As well as the place itself, which evokes many great memories shared by me and my bride. Therefore, the choice of the scenery for our pregnancy photo session was obvious.
As we have visited Durdle Door many times before, I knew the area and the distance from the car park very well. This knowledge is very important in this region. To reach the beach and the Durdle Door rock arch, Durdle Gate, you need to walk quite a distance from the parking lot. The descent is not very steep but full of stones. It is worth wearing some comfortable shoes. I advise against wearing high heels for women 😉 Although when I was in the mountains some time ago, where the trail was definitely more difficult and the distance to cover was much longer, I saw a brave woman walking in the high heels. Respect!
Depending on the weather conditions and a season of the year, it is worth dressing appropriately. It is very hot in summer, but the beginning of spring and autumn is quite cold. Durdle Door and the entire coast are an open space where the wind blows very much. Drone lovers are encouraged to turn on a sport mode if you have one. I have a DJI Mavic Pro drone. While taking shots early in the morning at sunrise, I flew quite far from the coast and after a while I noticed that the battery was low. The wind was so strong that the drone could barely resist. Sport mode has facilitated the flight. It is worth checking the wind because it can be really powerful there. I have already seen in my mind, that the drone fall into the water. Fortunately, it succeeded and flew back to me with a 1% battery charge 😊 Ufff.
Below I share the recording and my footage of the movie from the Maternity Photo Session. You will be able to watch the video where I present Drurdle Door and Maternity Photo Ideas Shots from our pregnancy session.
Durdle Door is a great place for trips with children but you must be extremely careful and look after your children. The cliffs are very high there and descent to the beach is quite steep. There are stairs, however, you should always protect children. I think that I will write a separate post about Durdle Door because I could talk about it endlessly. Today I will focus on the pregnancy session itself.
THE FOOTAGE FROM MY PHOTO SHOOT AT DURDLE DOOR – PREGNANCY PHOTOGRAPHY
PREGNANCY PHOTO SESSION ON THE BEACH AND CLIFFS AT DURDLE DOOR
PREGNANCY PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION
MATERNITY PHOTO IDEAS
My model, Milena, was already in late pregnancy. The belly was clearly visible. Durdle Door is not the easiest place for pregnancy sessions but this place is important for us, so we just had to be there. Milena felt very well, was full of positive energy and joy as well as strength. Taking our time, without a rush, we went towards the beach with safety. There are almost infinite places to take pictures.
DRESS, MAKEUP, STYLING AND DECORATION
It was a very warm day so we decided on a light, airy dress, typical for the spring season. We focused on natural white colour of the dress. In my opinion, it works fine with the blue and green colour of the sky and grass. However, with white colour, you should be careful because it is very easy to overexposure the photo. As a backup, we had another dress, a pink one.
However, it was quite a fancy dress with a slit on the belly, which did not quite suit in this scenery. In the end, we decide to take only one dress because changing it during the session would be too difficult. First of all, we were too far from the parking lot to go there, change and go back again.
Second of all, changing the dress on the beach would be rather uncomfortable, because the place is so famous and popular now that there are definitely too many people walking around to do it there.
MAKE-UP AND FLOWER WREATH
Initially, we had the idea to make light makeup for one dress, quite simple, so that we could easily modify it later to a new creation and dress that we had to change. Due to the situation described above, we stayed with one very natural and simple makeup. It’s actually a corrective foundation, lipstick and eye highlight. Mascara for eyelashes and eyebrows. So counting in total quite a lot of work as a whole. Every woman will agree with me here 😉 Try to do it in the moving by the car. We were driving for about three hours to get there, so we left home early in the morning. That is why makeup at home or with a make-up artist was rather hard to do. Therefore, Milena decided on a completely minimalistic makeup, intended only to correct any skin imperfections that are quite strongly visible by the sharp sunlight. For pregnancy photo sessions and other types of portrait photos, where it is especially important to capture not so much the model, but the memories of this fleeting moment that will not happen again, I recommend natural light makeup. Because here the most important thing is to capture the natural beauty. In the case of a pregnancy session, pregnancy itself is more important. After years, when you will reminisce this day with your whole family during viewing a photo, it’s worth seeing yourself as you really were in the past. In fact, the rest is less important and is only an addition, a nice setting, but more important is what’s inside.
THE WREATH ON A HEAD
As a decorative element for the entire styling, we used a wreath full of flowers made by Milena. These are real flowers bought in a florist and combined while driving on Durdle Door in the car.
The dominant colours on Durdle Door are the blue of the sky, turquoise water and the green grass with the white dress. We wanted to add some other colours by breaking the background colours. We used different flowers. Among others, white and pink Carnations and burgundy Dandelion flower. Basically, it is supposed to match the second dress, but also fulfils its role in the case of the white dress used in this photo session.
OUTDOOR PREGNANCY PHOTOGRAPHY
MATERNITY PHOTO SESSION
This maternity portrait photo session has been made outdoor at Durdle Door.
What could you expect? Open space and cloudless sky and intense, sharp sunlight. The colour temperature of sunlight in the afternoon is 5500 – 7000 Calvin. We tried to take pictures earlier. Unfortunately, we were there at 9 am. Before we unpacked all the equipment, we corrected the makeup and arrived at the place from the parking lot, the sun was already high. The lack of clouds caused a lack of natural softening of the light, i.e. the softbox effect. As a result, we had natural and very sharp sunlight. There were already a lot of people, which slowed us down. I knew perfectly well I should not to pack unnecessary equipment.
However, the set of lenses, camera, tripod, drone, together weigh a little bit…more. I didn’t fly a drone that day. First of all, for security reasons and too many tourists, who could not be removed from the background. Cutting out of each frame into post-production would be too time-consuming, and it wasn’t that important in this session anyway. For the film, I used material previously recorded from a drone. However, the drone was packed just in case.
There was also not much time during our pregnancy session. It was quite hot, and let’s not forget that Milena was pregnant. So I had my Canon 5d Mark II and Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L telephoto lenses for the portrait and Sigma Art 35mm f1.4, which I used for a wider frame. Because of the crowd, I decided not to use the flash. With this light in the open space, the lamp did not have enough power to break the sunlight.
After all, setting up the tripod and installing the lamp would be quite difficult and would take too much time. Similarly, setting the light output and camera settings would take too long and could be more difficult for my model in pregnancy. That’s why I chose natural light. Now I know that I could leave the light modifiers and flashlights in the car, which would reduce the weight of the backpack. But as befits a photographer, I wanted to be prepared just in case.
Anyway, Durdle Door is so beautiful that we also preferred to concentrate on relaxation and use the charms of the beach to chill out and relax. After all, it’s also about fun and pleasant memories accompanying the photo session. It’s part of our lives.
PHOTOGRAPHY EQUIPMENT AND CAMERA SETTINGS
WHAT HAD I GOT INSIDE MY PHOTOGRAPHY BACKPACK
THE BACKPACK FOR A PHOTOGRAPHER
I chose the F-stop Tilopa backpack. The photography bag is a 50-litre capacity ideal for trips. This backpack helps to keep all gears in one place. The Tilopa has an additional storage capacity with full length expanding side zipper pockets.
This F-stop Tilopa bag is weather-resistant designed and it is perfect to protect cameras and lenses.
I could put in my Canon 5d Mark IV camera with Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L telephoto lenses for portrait and Sigma Art. 35mm f1.4. Also my DJI Mavic Pro drone.
You can pack the tripod and stabilizer without any problems. ZHIYUN Tech Crane stabilizer 2. Manfrotto BeFree GT XPRO tripod. I also took a light modifier, an umbrella and flashlights with brackets to mount on a tripod.
Yongnuo Speedlite flash YN568EX II. I put some UV and polarizing filters in my backpack, lens cleaning instruments, lens wiping cloth, spare batteries and accumulators. In Tilopa there was also space for a bottle of water and snacks and a few tools useful in the field, such as a screwdriver, knife, adhesive tape, scissors, spoon and fork and a blanket.
In general, the backpack is versatile and very roomy, so everything you need can be hidden in it.
Canon 5d Mark IV. METERING MODE.
I have set a metering mode on a spot and to a pattern for test and comparison purposes. Focal length between 70 mm and 135 mm. It works in full-frame portrait photography. In the case of a few landscape shots, I reached further, within 200 mm, to photograph a corner of the coast.
For wider frames, I used Sigma Art 35 mm f/1.4. It is a prime focal length lens, so the focal length was 35 mm. This lens blurs the background and creates deep bokeh. To achieve this background blur effect you must open the lens aperture wide. In this case, my Sigma Art 35 mm allowed me to go down to F-stop 1.4, thanks to which I created fairy-tale bokeh behind the model’s back. Of course, in such a beautiful place as Durdle Door in Dorset, it is worth showing the beauty of the landscape and nature. However, in portrait photos, the bokeh effect is pleasing to the eye. These are not only our photos but also memories, so I decided to take typical portraits, landscape photos, wide and narrower frames.
Because it was a very sunny day, the shutter speed was set between 1/2500 sec. a 1/8000 sec.
An example of a full set of photo settings in this full sunlight: f2.8 (Sigma 35mm Art. 1.4), Exposure time: 1 / 3200sec. ISO – 50, Exposure bias: -1 step.
Another example using Sigma Art. 35mm: f / 1.8, 1 / 5000sec. and ISO 50, -0.3 step, focal length: 35mm.
Sample setting using a Canon 70-200mm L f2.8 lens: f / 2.8, Exposure time: 1 / 4000sec. ISO 160, Exposure bias: -0.3 step, focal length: 80 mm.
As you can see the aperture is set low, but not to the maximum. Range from f / 1.8 mainly to f / 2.8.
When I wanted to show more details in the background, I increased the aperture to f / 5.6. I set the shutter speed to be very fast, due to the very large amount of light and, additionally, the wide-open shutter that absorbed almost all the sunlight. I set ISO from 50 to 100, and in the most shaded place ISO 200, to compensate for the amount of light at a shutter speed of 1/8000 sec.
Generally, that’s it. There is no philosophy here. Simply to blur the background behind the model you need to open the lens aperture wide. On a very sunny day without clouds in the sky, in order not to overexpose the photo, I used fast exposure time.
Additionally, I used exposure bias to adjust the exposure a certain amount of F-stops either over or under the camera’s metering. I could also use a grey filter but I just didn’t have it on these lenses.
POST-PRODUCTION AND COLOUR GRADING
A little bit about post-production and colouring the image.
Durdle Door is such a beautiful and fabulous place that you do not need photoshop here. The turquoise colour of the water, blue sky and green grass are simply very vivid here, especially in spring and summer.
When developing photos, I focused on correcting the overexposure of the photo and adjusting the contrast.
Then I corrected dirt or things completely unnecessary and spoiling the frame, i.e. people in the background behind the model, or flying flies or garbage on the ground. I also applied a gentle photo retouch of the skin and corrected the shadows on the model’s face by brightening them. There were also creases of the dress. Therefore, crease retouching was quite important here although a bit time-consuming. But this is sometimes the case when you do not have an iron at hand.
So that the photo does not look like a “holiday image” I mean the colour scheme, I changed the colour tone. I worked at the shadows and mid-tones, changing their values to make the photo more pleasing to the eye and not just to be an ordinary photo taken in a cool place. I tried to give character and a rather “unusual atmosphere” here.
That is why some photos stand out from the rest. However, it depends on the frame and pose, as well as the place itself and what you see in the background. I like working on photo editing and creating the final product the way I like it. After all, this photo session was for us.
I also stood in front of the lens. My model usually uses a different camera, so my Canon 5d Mark IV with a Canon 70-200mm L weighing lens did not fit her a bit. You don’t always manage to hit the model. I’m sorry honey but I had to add this photo! 😊 Still, the second shot was better; *
IT IS NOT JUST PHOTOGRAPHY
It doesn’t matter what type of photography you take, you should always do it with passion. And no matter if it works perfectly or not. Of course, you should always strive for perfection, but it comes with time and it is worth building nice memories and experience here. In a few years, I will probably think that I could do it better when I look at my photos. But it always is and always will be. What matters is the moment, you and now and what we give from each other to take good pictures. Because memories associated with it will remain forever. In 10 years or 20 years, the technology will be much better and it will seem “old school” to us. However, a good old-school is not bad. With each session, a person learns something new, and I think that’s it. Life is one big lesson.
DURDLE DOOR BEACH AND COAST WITH CLIFFS