Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that I’ve been shooting in the studio alot more over the past couple of months and that’s been great for a whole host of reasons; not least being the fact that despite the weather the shoot always goes ahead plus there’s the added comfort factor.
Now although I thoroughly enjoy shooting in the studio and working with what is in effect a blank canvas, where I really get a kick is shooting ‘on location’. Working outside on location though does bring with it, it’s own challenges and as any photographer knows it’s very much hit or miss whether the shoot actually goes ahead because of the weather. However, that being said there’s nothing I like more than scouting out a location and then changing the feel / mood of it by the use of location lighting. In fact talking of the weather, Advertising Photographer of the Year Tim Wallace would tell you to embrace the bad weather when it happens; turn it into a positive and use it to your advantage to create some really quite dramatic images.
So, for a recent portfolio shoot I decided to step out of the studio and go out on location but at the same time for one of the shots have a bit of a play and make the outdoors look as though I was still in the studio.
What do I mean?
The intention of the photo at the beginning of this post was to make our male model look as though he was standing on a stage with lights/flashes going off behind him but rather than being shot in the studio it was taken in the middle of the day in the car park of a local supermarket as the iPhone Photo below shows (note: by the time I took this ‘Behind the Scenes’ shot with my iPhone the male model had gone through a wardrobe change)…
So how was it done?
The principle behind this shot was exactly the same as a technique I call the ‘Invisible Black Backdrop‘ where you use the camera to set the scene i.e. make the location completely black and then once you’ve done that, introduce some light into the scene to light your subject. (You can read a complete walk-through of the Invisible Black Backdrop technique by clicking on this link).
Part 1: Lighting the subject
The first part was to light our subject and knowing that in the final image I was going to be placing extra lights behind him, he would need to have a rim light hitting him which would give the impression that it came from those extra lights. Of course had I had a bag full of lights with me at the time then it’s likely I would have done this shot in one take but that would have required about 10 speedlights; and I only had half that amount with me.
Part 2: The Stage Lights/Flashes
To create the stage/flash lights I placed 3 speedlights on separate stands at varying heights and positions into the frame aimed back towards the camera and took a few shots with an aperture of around the f/11 mark; any wider and I wouldn’t have gotten the desired starbust look from the light, and this I did a couple of times…
Part 3: Putting it all together
Back at the computer, having edited the first shot of our model it was then a simple case of placing the extra lights that I’d shot around him. To do this meant that I had to ‘extend the canvas’ of the photo of our model because each time I shoot a portrait using the Invisible Black Backdrop technique I always do it with the camera in portrait orientation and virtually fill the frame with the subject. To explain the how and why, here’s a short Photoshop tutorial I recorded last year:
So, there you have it…an image that looks like it was possibly shot in a studio but was taken in the great outdoors; a free studio offering endless creative possibilities.
If you have any questions or comments then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below. Oh and just for extra proof that we were in a car park here’s a final shot of our model sitting in what could possibly be the transport of the future; or at least it could be if fuel prices keep going up the way they are
And here’s an iPhone photo showing the lighting set up which couldn’t have been simpler; a single Nikon Speedlight and Shoot-Thru umbrella…