The Bathtime Sessions – Vol 1

I’ve wanted to do a bath shoot for a while and have even scouted locations, but the cost of said locations have been an impediment. As I have mentioned, I am a hobbyist photographer who pays their models, so driving three hours to Asheville, NC and renting a hella expensive junior suite with a spectacular bath tips the balance from “reasonable expenditure” to “gaaaaahhhhh, I could have bought another lens!”

So the bath dream has stayed on hold until the day when I was telling one of my model/friends, “I’d even settle for a good soaking tub.” At which point something in my brain went “click” and it dawned on me that I have a soaking tub. I was so focused on a standing tub (and cost-sensitive to the types of hotel rooms that have them) that I blinded myself to what was in front of me.

With that new knowledge in hand, I scheduled a session with Jo and we decided to test the waters, as it were.

And this was very much a test. The main goal of the session was to slather Jo with honey. Since this would necessitate a shower, we decided to add the tub on to the session.

I also had no idea how to light it. In my NC bad-ass standing tub research nearly every example in a hotel, Bed & Breakfast, or AirBNB had wall colors that contrasted with the starkness of the tub itself. In my soaker, all the walls are pure white. If I wasn’t careful light was going to go everywhere.

My oeuvre also involves copious amounts of shadows. I’m not over-lighting a subject just because of white walls. I will find a way.

Lighting used:

  • Flashpoint eVOLVE 200
  • Flashpoint eVOLVE 200 Round Head Flash Head
  • Flashpoint Round Head Flash Accessory Kit
    • Barn doors
    • Gels
    • 30º Grid
X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

Not a bad start! This is with the 30º grid, which I knew would do the trick because it is my go-to beauty dish modifier. It worked surprisingly well on the round head flash. I have my shadows and light isn’t reflecting off the three shiny white walls.

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200
X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

We were nailing “moody,” but there was still a sense that it wasn’t quite what we were aiming for.

Next we added a CTO 1/4 gel to give a candle-lit warmth to the scene and the barn doors to control the light even further.

Not too shabby for a small flash. We were running short on time and decided to light the scene with just the round head flash.

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

Honestly, one of my favorite captures of Jo. I can’t decide whether I prefer the dynamic movement of the water in the above or the serenity of below.

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

I’m going to go with “Both are wall-worthy.”

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200
X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

It was at this point where we encountered our first and only fail of the test: adding bubble bath. A combination of a limited quantity of the stuff at hand coupled with a tub that was as full as we wanted meant that we got weak-ass bubbles. However, Jo in weak-ass bubbles is still objectively spectacular.

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

While we didn’t achieve max (or even min) bubbles, we did get lovely swirls in which to frame her.

X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200
X-T3 | 33mm | 1/250sec | f/5 | ISO-200

Finally it was time to pack up, but not without a few more gridded and barn door’d images.

As tests go we were satisfied with the results. The two biggest lessons learned were 1) the round head flash does not produce the best results in a tub setting, and 2) if you are transitioning to bubbles, drain the tub and start the bubbles early.

The best part is that we immediately set a date to do another round where bath time was the focus.


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