Downtown Indianapolis, Indiana Canal Area Challenge Shootout!

Downtown Indianapolis Indiana

Canal Area Challenge Shootout!

Traveling to new locations from Southern California allow me get out of my typical shooting box & try some new lighting or creative shooting situations. I had that opportunity  this week as I traveled to the Marci and Christy Imagine Conference  in Indianapolis, Indiana. Besides the Disney Land style back lot of the hosting photographers – which you can see on there website here – MAC – a new location can offer some great photography challenges & new lighting scenarios if you get out & explore!


From lighting to posing on the run, this shootout was fast & furious! I decided on an evening shoot, & the canal street location. Follow along as I walk through my location, lighting, styling, posing & lens choices.


Picking an awesome location in a new city can be a challenge. Here are a few tips that work for me.

First, I googled what time sunset was in my desired city of Indianapolis, Indiana so I could be prepared for the sunset timing after the day of education!

Next, I put out a model call to the local area & asked my models where they wanted to be shot or for ideas of an awesome location. They suggested the canal area in downtown.

Then I used Google Earth to walk the neighborhood! The picture above is a shot of the city scape in the area we chose to shoot.

Check it out here –Google Earth  It is such a great resource!

I personally look for areas with shaded light, reflective surfaces to bounce the light, or ally ways that filter the light when shooting earlier in the day. I love to be free of modifiers & lights when exploring a new city, so I like to be free to “run & gun” so to speak! This lets me explore! I also look for textures & colors that can create interest in the image & tell the story of the location!

Camera & Lens

My camera & lens choices vary, but typically I start with my baby the Nikon 200 mm f/2 prime. I didn’t pack it for this trip so I went with my Nikon 135mm f/2 Defocus Control lens. I choose this lens for 2 reasons. 1st the amazing Bokeh control when shooting wide open & 2nd the tack sharp in focus area, & 3rd the amount of light I could get into the lens as I would be loosing light quick shooting so late in the evening. I did use my Nikon D810 as my camera & I love the ability to really push my ISO. It is not grainy if you nail the exposure in camera. I shoot  Raw. Here is a shot with the 135… Practically straight out of camera…I did load it through Lightroom Mobile on my IPad Pro to tweak it a tad & check out the color before loading it here. (I used the healing brush to remove a small piece of white lint on her shirt)!

The second lens I choose to bring was my Sigma Art 35 mm f/1.4.   This wide angle choice would give me a great opportunity to capture the feel & environment as well as a different perspective! It also has great warm color rendition, is tack sharp, & has beautiful Bokeh!!! My favorite qualities in a portrait lens! Check out this image below, again loaded through Lightroom Mobile on my IPad.


The great thing about shooting in a new location is trying out some new posing ideas! I shot on the wall to use reflected light to fill the shadows, & sitting, squatting, lying down & some other go to poses. But I also experimented with window reflections & shooting with found light sources as it got dark. I love the variety of available textures & leading lines available in the canal area! Check out these images…


Lighting  for this shoot was just using available light sources. I had my speed light but I really wanted to challenge myself to see the available light resources. The shoot started at about an hour before sunset. It was cloudy and overcast with spotty rain. I started with positioning my subjects next to windows, light colored walls, and in spots where the sunlight would bounce beautifully back into their faces. If you zoom in on the images you will see the horizon, a wall, or even myself caught in the reflection. Additionally, I used some backlight in some of the shots to create a nice rim light or to separate  my model from he background. As it started to get darker I just looked for areas where I could get my models face closer to the reflective surface or any potential available light source like the street lights or sidewalk lights seen in the images above. It is so much fun to figure out how to feather an available light source to get a pleasing light & shadow pattern on my models faces.


Styling was a street vibe. I just asked the models to bring a variety out of their closet & to include some props such as heels, chucks, jeans, dresses, sunglasses etc. They would be rushing after work to pull some items together to meet me & I wanted to work with the surprise Items. Boy was I impressed. They brought 1 backpack which was like the never ending carpet bag from Mary Poppins!!!! Talk about variety!!! I bet they easily had 25 pairs of sunglasses!!!!! As we walked we changed outfits &’props to fit the scenery! So much fun!!!!


Check out these additional images for ideas for your next surprise destination shoot! The images are loaded through Lightroom Mobile on my IPad, & loaded here…. most have had zero editing to give you an idea of what I was looking for & what I captured. I will follow in about a week with another blog post to show you some of the images fully edited – as I am traveling & my computer is a desk top so I will be editing when I return to Southern California. Follow me on Instagram or Facebook or right here on my blog for more destination & styled adventures. You can even sign up for my email list which will notify you when I post! Enjoy & happy shooting.



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