Following on from the ‘Photo Shoot & Post Production Walkthrough’ I thought I’d carry on with the same theme this week, but this time covering a recent Food Photography Shoot.
I always feel that Photo Shoots are generally an exercise in problem solving and it’s this working out of the what, where, how and why that I get a real kick out of. Anyway this recent food shoot was no different as on the day the brief changed quite alot (to say the least) from what was originally planned.
I’ll fill you in on all the details later but to give you an idea, the photograph below to the left shows you the environment we had to work in and along side it are the results, straight out of camera with just a slight crop and a little sharpening added.
I’ll have the walk through posted up on the blog this coming Friday covering the location assessment, lighting and some of the challenges encountered but in the mean time,
Following on from the ‘Behind the Scenes’ video of the photo shoot with Artist Colin Castle I posted earlier in the week, I thought I’d carry on with a ‘walk through’ of the complete process, so here goes…
Set Up: 1
As Colin is regularly contacted by magazines and newspapers wanting articles, the priority was to come up with a photograph for promotional/editorial purposes that could be sent to the various media. In the couple of meetings we had prior to the shoot I’d asked Colin to start gathering any portrait photographs from magazines etc that he liked the look of so that we could get more of an understanding for the kind of feel/result he was aiming for. This is a method I employ alot for portrait shoots ie asking the client over time to gather as many pictures as possible either from magazines or the internet that they’re drawn to; I find it helps alot and goes a long way toward getting the shoot ‘right’.
The photo shoot was to be done ‘on location’ at Colin’s home which is where his studio is, however the studio space was quite limiting so we agreed on using a larger room and on the day of the shoot re-arranging the layout so that it looked as if he actually was in his normal space.
When I first walk into a location, I’ll take my time to walk around and find out exactly what we have to work with. I’ll generally set my camera into Aperture Priority and shoot away from all manner of angles in the quest to find ‘the shot’.
No different to any other shoot, the first location had it’s good and bad points. The good being the huge window where Colin had his easel positioned, letting in the most beautiful soft light. The bad (for want of a better word) being that the light dropped off dramatically so that beyond the easel itself started to quickly go dark and also underneath the easel being a big black hole of nothingness:
Keeping things simple I decided to blend both the natural light from the large window with light from a softbox positioned camera right to fill in some of the shadows so that more of the room and the back of Colin wasn’t so dark:
The next thing was to push a bit of light under the table because without it all the detail just disappeared into the shadows. The light for here came in the form of a Nikon SB800 Speedlight which I had to flag off so as to prevent light from it coming too high in the picture and creating shadows and hot points as it fell on other areas within the frame:
Once we’d decided on where I was shooting from, which was actually the adjoining kitchen area, and all the lights were in place it was then a matter of strategically placing items around so that it looked like we were actually in Colin’s studio space. Any reflections on the framed prints were quickly and easily resolved just by adusting the angle of the pictures in relation to the light:
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Elinchrom Quadra & 100cm square Softbox
Nikon SB800 to light the area beneath the easel.
Set Up: 2 This picture couldn’t have been simpler. The idea was to mimic the light attached to the easel and have everwhere else fall to black and to do so all that was required was a single Nikon SB800 Speedlight, a light stand and a Honl Speed Grid.
The lighting was positioned on the other side of the easel from Colin and aimed down onto both him and the painting he was working on. After several frames to test where the light was falling, all the curtains were closed so as to restrict the amount of ambient light in the scene and I then asked Colin to work away.
The great thing about using flash is that it freezes action which in turn means the ‘talent’ can work away without having to hold a position which can start to make them look uncomfortable and ‘staged’. All you need to do is to tell the ‘talent/client’ what their boundaries of movement are ie where not to move so that the light misses them.
Set Up: 3 The final picture/s were taken outside on a patio area which overlooked the grounds. Here we wanted to create a very relaxed feel to the pictures as if Colin was sat outside on a warm summers evening; the reality though was quite the opposite with light rain and temperatures that had dropped considerably.
Again a series of test shots were taken to decide on the best angle to work and where to place the lighting as the natural/ambient light was quite flat:
Having placed the key light which again was the Elinchrom Quadra and 100cm square softbox a bit more interest was addded to the plain white wall behind Colin by repositioning one of the potted plants out of frame and firing a zoomed speedlight through it so as to create shadows; kind of mimicking what the low, late afternoon/early evening sun would do:
Real simple set up this one:
Before touching on the post production I think it’s worth mentioning that for the interior shots I was shooting tethered into Lightroom 3.
This is something I’ve been doing alot more of over the last few months, both on location and in the studio for a number of reasons but mainly because:
Seeing each shot come up onto a big screen straight from the camera means you can can really look at what you have in detail. As good as the LCD on the back of my D3 is and even if I use a Hoodman Loupe, seeing the images come up on my MacBook Pro’s 17″ screen means I have more chance of noticing all the little details that I could otherwise have missed and then spend time in Photoshop correcting. I’d much rather get it right in camera and spend time doing things in Post that I want to do rather than what I have to do.
Following on from that, working tethered has the effect of slowing you down so you can use that time to prefect the shot and correct all the little issues in camera and not in post as I mentioned before.
It eliminates the ability to say things like “I’ll get rid of that later in Photoshop”, “It’ll look great when I’ve worked on it later” and so on …. because there’s every chance the client / art director is going to be on your shoulder watching as the images come up on screen.
Post Production Ok, when it comes to post production there wasn’t much to do with this series of images at all apart from a slight colour temperature change, a little dodging and burning, a little use of the patch tool and some sharpening; taking no more than a minute or two so here’s a breakdown to give you an idea what was needed for each ‘set up’:
Photograph 1: A: Global colour temperature change (warmth added) using the White Balance control in Lightroom. B: Logo on shirt removed using the Patch Tool in Photoshop. C: Burn Tool used on paintings to darken them down a touch and add a little more contrast.
Photograph 2: A: Burn Tool used on paintings to darken them down a touch and add a little more contrast. B: Light spill on denim jeans removed by sampling surrounding colour and then using a soft brush to paint over the top.
A: Global colour temperature change (warmth added) using the White Balance control in Lightroom plus a slight vignette.
B: Exposure on plant pots reduced using Adjustment Brush in Lightroom.
C: Shadow patterning on wall intensified with a quick brush over with the Burn Tool in Photoshop.
As you can see the time spent in post production was kept to a minimum (approx 1-2 minutes each image) and to make things even better, the global adjustments in Lightroom were applied to all the other images in that set using the Sync Settings Command; one click and an unlimited amount of images are adjusted leaving time then to go in and make any fine adjustments:
So there you have it, a photo shoot from start to finish…warts and alland incase you missed it, here’s the ‘Behind the Scenes’ video that my good buddy Neal Hibbert recorded along the way:
Any questions or comments I’d love to ‘hear’ them so as always, please feel free to make use of the comments section below,
Thought I’d share this video with you by the Manfrotto School of Xcellence that I caught this morning whilst checking my Google Reader and going through the daily papers (blogs).
The video is a short iPad Interview with photographers Joe McNally and Bill Frakes; sounds odd but it’s a great concept and for fans of Joe McNally (who isn’t???) it’s insightful and entertaining as you come to expect from his unique, inimitable style.
Regular readers of the blog may remember that earlier in the year I met up with the guys from ‘The Debonaires‘ to photograph the CD artwork for their latest album…’Cry Your Blues Away’.
Well after a few months of the guys recording in the studio and the CD going to press I’m really excited to see and hear the final results. To give you an idea of what images were used, here’s a rough scan of the CD itself and all the inserts: (scan quality isn’t brilliant but at least it gives you an idea)
This latest album is without doubt their best work to date and it’s a real honour to have played a part in putting it all together; a great fun shoot with a truly great bunch of guys
You can check out more of The Debonaires by visiting their website and/or MySpace.
Also, if you missed the articles about the photo shoot with The Debonaires and the posts that followed covering the post production involved here’s some links that you may want to check out:
Thought I’d start the week off with a short ‘Behind the Scenes’ video I put together from a recent ‘on location’ promotional photo shoot with Artist Colin Castle (www.colincastleart.com)
In the next few days I’m going to write a more detailed post covering all sorts of stuff like the the briefing, location assessment, lighting and some of the challenges we had to overcome, finishing off with the final tweeks added in post production but in the mean time,
> Big thanks to my good buddy Neal Hibbert for the support and for grabbing some video footage; also does a mean V.A.L. (Voice Activated Light Stand)