Cold War Model Shoot in the Missile Silo

Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Shutter: 1/160, Aperture ƒ/2.8, ISO: 640, Lens: 18-35mm, Remote flash

As I mourn the demolition of my beloved abandoned missile silo, I realized I never finished the blog post about the time we took a model down there, and she dressed like a Cold War era Russian spy. Whoops! So here it is. We had a lot of fun with one light, one reflector and a couple of costumes. I tagged this as guerrilla because we had to get in and get out, and we had a minimal amount of equipment.



Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Shutter: 1/160, Aperture: ƒ/2.8, ISO: 640, Lens: 18-35mm

One of my favorite looks is when the subject stands directly between the camera and the off camera flash (pointed right back at the camera) giving the subject an edge light. Like the image at the top. This missile silo was pitch black so we set up the scenes the best we could and took a lot of shots. I really like the very first image, but this one here, where she or I had moved just slightly and we got some lens flare, came out great too. For both of these shots, we had just the one flash on a Gorillapod and my man Reza positioning a reflector near me. Also I like how Sarah is looking off to the left; for a lot of the shots I wanted her looking right at me.


Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Shutter: 1/160, Aperture: ƒ/2.8, ISO: 640, Lens: 18-35mm

This was a shot I had in mind for ages. I love how the entire context of the shot can change with the simple act of pulling on, or pulling off the glove. In the top image, Sarah is pulling on the industrial rubber glove. It’s a gesture of power. It appears that she could be getting ready to do something to you. This theme of being dominated is strengthened by the direct glare at the camera/viewer. In the second image, it’s the same setting, same costume and model, but now she’s sliding off the glove. Sarah’s look directly at the camera still keeps her in control, but the removal of the gloves reveals a bit softer side. It’s more submissive and perhaps alluring, depending on your proclivities. But I love how two almost identical shots can change context so quickly, and this was a great setting to try it out.


Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Shutter: 1/125, Aperture: ƒ/10.0, ISO: 640, Lens: 18-35mm

We wanted to interact with the environment a bit more, so for a few shots Sarah interacted with the massive industrial levers and staircases. I like this shot alright, but here are two of my gripes. First; with only one off camera light source, but pretty close to me, we end up with the harsh shadow behind her. So much so, it looks like the camera’s pop-up flash, or a snapshot. Whenever I’m working with a model or an environment like this, I want every shot to look intentional, even if it appears candid, or serendipitous; a photographer could recognize the effort put into getting the look. I wish I had done this shot with better lighting, to minimize that shadow (two lights would have helped) bouncing it more so it was diffused, or somehow getting the lighting to come from above. I didn’t want the shadows on her face that come from light coming straight down, but that general direction would resemble the traditional warehouse-style lighting that belongs in this scene. However I really like how her face is currently lit. With only one remote flash, perhaps we could have put it on a fully extended tripod, and Reza could have held it above the scene, much like a boom mic. Secondly, we wanted to embrace the abandoned look but the tire is really distracting to me. We could have physically moved it, or I could have edited it out in photoshop. But for this, I’m leaving it in so you can see the undesirable impact that it has.


Sarah Fighter in the Missile Silo
Shutter: 1/125, Aperture: ƒ/5.0, ISO: 640, Lens: 18-35mm

It was my idea to have the white jumpsuit and gloves, and Sarah provided the fur coat with Siberian hat, and this military-style suit. Her contributions were quite a bit more alluring, but I’m glad we had the opportunity to play around and try different looks. We worked with the challenges of being in complete darkness and using a variety of techniques to light the scenes. I really like that Sarah contributed ideas and costumes, and it felt like a good collaboration. Reza was also a huge part of this evening. I’m a little sad, ok, devastated that this missile silo is now gone. I loved having my own personal abandoned government base to play in. I’m glad we were able to get a session like this in there before it was gone forever.

This entry was posted in Awesome, Guerrilla, Place, UrbanDecay, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.