Ok so as promised, here’s some images and a walk through from the recent promo photo shoot with band, Spriggan Mist…
Now the first and most important thing we had to sort out was the location for the shoot. Spriggan Mist are a Folk Rock Band with a Pagan influence so from the start we knew we’d be shooting out on location, but we needed somewhere ‘mystical’ so the question was…where?
We eventually settled for a location that was a little off the beaten track but perfect for the whole feel of what we wanted; Ankerwycke Yew Tree…an ancient Yew tree close to the ruins of St Mary’s Priory, the site of a Benedictine Nunnery built in the 12th Century and said to be the location where King Henry VIII met Anne Boleyn in the 1530’s … Perfect
On the day of the shoot things didn’t start off too promising with an early downpour of rain but thankfully by the time we’d all arranged to meet, the rain had turned to bright sunshine. In the photographs below you can see by the one on the left despite being under the canopy of the Yew Tree how bright the day turned out to be…
On the day of the shoot my good friend Noel Hannan
came along to help out; and what a great help he was too. You can just about make him out in the screen grab below where he’s working through his repertoire of ‘catalogue poses’ when we were testing the light positions
Lighting Set Up:
Now, rather than subject you to another one of my ‘artistic’ lighting diagrams, here’s a BTS (Behind The Scenes) photograph taken by Noel showing exactly what lights were used and where.
For the two Nikon SB800 Speedlights indicated in the centre of the photograph, one was positioned on the branch to give the burst of light you can see in some of the images and another was placed on the ground inside the tree itself to give a little kick of light rather than leaving a ‘black hole’.
Below is a ‘portait’ orientated version of the group shot where you can see the burst of light from the Nikon Speedlight on the branch. I actually did a variety of shots of the same scene; some with the burst of light and some without so as to give the band a little more choice when it comes to using the images in their promotional material.
I quite like the feel of the Black & White versions of the group shots, so again to give the band that much more choice they were provided with both. Incidentally, all the Black & White’s were done using Nik Silver Efex Pro
which is my only ‘go to’ place for conversions…absolutely love it! I’ve yet to upgrade to the latest version but judging by some of the feedback I’ve read online, it’s a must!
I wanted to make use of smoke in some of the shots so as to give the impression of low lying mist but not having hired a generator and smoke machine I opted for a cheaper ‘smoke in a can’ product. Now I’ll be honest and say I thought that having no breeze around would have meant the smoke in a can would have worked sufficiently well but this was definitely a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.
No matter how long a burst we gave the cannister, the smoke disappeared almost immediately giving no time at all to include it in a shot let alone ‘fan it’ to get the desired coverage.
So long story short, the cannister was put where it belonged (back in the kit bag) and I carried on shooting knowing that I would be adding in the mist during the editing stage. So, that being said…here’s a really simple and quick technique for adding some mist / smoke into your images…
Step 1: Photograph some Clouds
Find yourself, or better still, take a photograph of a cloudy sky and then desaturate it. In the example below I’ve done this using Camera Raw; no special reason for this other than my shot needed a little more contrast adding and seeing as it was there, a little clarity too…
Step 2: Position your Sky/Cloud Layer in Photoshop
Now that you’ve got your desaturated sky/cloud image the next thing to do is to bring it into Photoshop and put it on the layer ‘above’ the photograph that you want to add the smoke/mist to.
Once in Photoshop simply drag and resize the sky/cloud layer to the area where you want the final smoke/mist to be. In my example I only wanted the mist to be on the ground so I just dragged the layer to the bottom part of the photograph…
Step 3: Screen Blend Mode and Layer Mask
For the final part of the technique simply change the blend mode of your sky/cloud layer to ‘Screen’ and add a white layer mask by clicking on the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel.
Then, with a soft edged, black brush simply paint away the top part of the sky/cloud layer so that the hard line disappears and the layer blends in seamlessly. As the smoke/mist is on it’s own layer, you can then lower it’s opacity until you get the look you’re after. In my example I found an opacity of 70% worked quite well…
Editing in Photoshop
Below you can see an example of a ‘Before‘ (Out of Camera) image and an ‘After‘ (Final edited) image, where apart from reducing the hard shadow on the floor and on the woman in red, the editing consisted mainly of working on the colour/tone, enhancing details, adding contrast to skin, darkening the edges and of course adding in the smoke/mist…
Lastly, during the editing phase I also added in an extra light source onto the tree using a ‘spotlight’ technique so as to bring out a little more detail and prevent it from appearing too dark; something which didn’t look necessary during the shoot but did once able to see the images on the big screen.
As always if you have any questions / comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below but in the mean time,
Congratulations to Terry Donnelly
who has won the signed copy of RC Concepcion’s best selling book ‘Get Your Photography on the Web
‘ for his breakdown of the lighting set up for the group shot posted in last weeks competition…