Behind the Scenes & Post Production: Shooting a Personal Project

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: November 23, 2011

Category: General

Hi Folks.
I’ve been working on a personal project lately and have posted a few of the results on my Google+ and Facebook pages. So, I thought I’d follow it up and share them here too as well as giving a Behind the Scenes (B.T.S.)  look at what went into both the photo shoot and the post production…

This project has seen me again working with Actor/Model Tristan Roper, having first met him when I joined my Buddy Noel Hannan on a photo shoot. You may recognise Tristan from off the poster for my Character Portrait Workshops and I’m really excited that he’s now going to be modelling for the next series of my From Concept to Print Workshops; the dates of which I’ll be announcing real soon.

In the Studio: Lighting Set Up
Ok so all the shots of Tristan were taken against slightly darker than 50% grey seamless and with a 3 light set up:

Strip Lights either side and slightly behind Tristan: These were positioned quite high up on their stands and then angled downwards, I guess with the bottom of them at about shoulder height with the intention of mimicking the effect of street lighting.

Medium Octa: This was on a boom to the front and off to one side slightly to add a little bit of interest to the light from the front; powered down so as to add a little bit of fill and with the outer diffusion panel removed so that the light which did come out had a bit of punch to it.

The Background
When it came to shooting the background I already had in mind the kind of look/feel that I wanted but rather than search a few well known sites for suitable stock images I decided to get out and shoot it myself…

(By the way, that’s my buddy Gareth Davies who owns the studio I shoot in and run my workshops from in the photo on the left…an absolute star and great friend! ) 

I wanted to find something that gave the feel of Old London Town…you know dark alleyways and cobbled streets so after a little bit of research, Noel and myself decided that Whitechapel in London would be ideal.

Made famous from being the haunt of the infamous Jack the Ripper, it promised to have a few of the remaining cobbled streets you’ll find in London that haven’t yet fallen fowl of building work and renovation…

This particular alleyway I shot as a HDR image taking a series of photos all in quick succession (handheld) and combined  later using Photomatix.

To help with the realism of the final composited image, I made sure that my shooting height/position was the same as when I’d been photographing Tristan in the studio. In addition to that I also kept the Aperture setting on my camera the same so that the Depth of Field would be as it would have been had I actually photographed Tristan in situ.

Basically all I did was get in the same shooting position/height, set my camera to Aperture Priority Mode (f/16), have Noel stand the same distance from me as Tristan had originally been and then locked my focus on him. Noel then moved out of the frame and I pressed the shutter release to take a series of shots; 7 in total with my Nikon D3 in Continuous High and Bracketing Mode (1 stop difference between shots).

The same was repeated for the photographs of the brick wall although these were taken facing straight on at normal standing height…

Post Production
Once back in the computer, the background/alleyway images were combined and Tone Mapped together using Photomatix and from there taken into Photoshop to remove unwanted/distracting items, change the colour/tone etc so that it looked like late evening/night time etc… but only up to a point as the rest would be worked on once it had been added behind Tristan.

With regards to the shot of Tristan, I worked on it to a certain point before compositing with the background to get it looking a particular way…

  • RAW Conversion
  • Tidying Up (Removing Dust Spots etc)
  • Enhancing Details
  • Skin Contrast
  • Dodging & Burning
  • Selecting (Quick Selection/Quick Mask/Refine Edge)

Once the images had been composited it was then a case of going through a whole series of steps and techniques to see what could/should be done to complete the image: positioning Tristan, adding shadows, adding lights, adding the smoke/mist, vignette and also what can only be described as ‘playing’ until the colour/tone felt right. Oh, and making sure I took my own advice of walking away from what I’d done and coming back to it some time later to avoid becoming ‘Pixel Blind’; nothing beats looking at what you’ve done with fresh eyes…you’ll know straight away if you need to do anything more or indeed if you’ve done enough.

So there you have it, a complete run through of what went into putting these images together. Of course I can’t include all the editing steps involved and that’s not because I don’t want to, but more a case of there being rather more than I can remember, but hopefully this is helpful in some way.

As always if you have any questions or comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below and I’ll be sure to answer them asap, but in the mean time,
Enjoy 🙂

•     •     •

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12 Comments

  1. Richard

    Great post Glyn, nice to read on the train, thanks for sharing. Great advice on DOF, must try and remember that!!

    Reply
  2. Ronnie

    Hi Glyn. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’m really interested in your Concept to Print Workshops. Will we go through these kinds of techniques? Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  3. John Gardiner

    Another cracking photo shoot and post production share, Glyn. You are generous with your time and skills. High “Fives” to you, buddy. Many thanks!

    Reply
  4. Terry Donnelly

    As ever the perfectionist! Super job Glyn

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Thanks Terry 😉

      Reply
  5. James Hole

    Great post mate! I’d have no idea where to start with a composite if it wasn’t for you and Matt Kloskowski! Really enjoy the process of making them! Cheers!

    Reply
  6. Paul Chambers

    Wonderful post; fascinating to read through your approach to the whole shot. I absolutely love the look that you have managed to get with the alleyway – just wish my experiments worked so well!

    Reply
  7. Andrew Keane (@MadKeanePhotos)

    Greats series Glyn. I do love the 3 light setup with the two strip banks. However it is the dodging & burning that really makes this. I love how illustrative it looks. Been trying this at home myself, but still have a long way to go just to figure out what to dodge, what to burn.

    Reply
  8. Blayn Parkinson

    Great post Thanks for sharing. Given me some good ideas, time to go and play I think 🙂

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Thanks for the feedback folks. Really good to ‘see’ that you like the results and that the B.T.S. info is useful.
      Cheers, Glyn 🙂

      Reply
  9. DaveT

    As always another great BTS post – I love these so please keep them coming.

    Good point about looking at the screen with fresh eyes and not becoming pixel blind. I am currently sifting thorough a pile of images I shot of wildlife on a recent trip abroad, so this tip is very timely.

    Thanks Glyn
    Dave

    Reply
  10. Alistair McNaughton

    the results are incredible. How do you add the mist/fog to the shot? is this a filter or from another image?

    Reply

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