Behind the Scenes: The Cinderella Shoot Revealed!!!

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: September 2, 2011

Category: General

Well as promised, following on from a recent post, here’s a run through of how I approached the Cinderella shoot when the pressure was definitely on to photograph some folks off the television in a stately home that was open for business as normal, fulfill a list of ‘must have’ photographs that filled one side of A4 paper and with  just one hour to do it!

Also adding to the mix and making things that much more errrmmm, interesting, was the fact that I was unable to meet with the Promoters and take a look at the location prior to the day of the shoot. So, with all this to consider, there was just one thing on my mind…KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid!)

It’s been really interesting and to be honest very encouraging to read some of your thoughts with regards to how you think this series of shots were lit, what equipment I used and where it was placed, so with that being said I guess now it’s time to reveal all; oh and I guess now is also a good time to say that it’s not a composite … sorry 🙂

50% Photographer/ 50% Retoucher 
One thing I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned on this blog is my thought process when approaching a photo shoot. Well, the best way I can put it is that I consider myself 50% Photographer and 50% Retoucher. You see I have to have in my mind exactly what the final picture will look like once it’s been captured in camera and then gone through the editing process; this way I get a clearer idea in my head about what I need, where to place it and what I’ll need to do in Photoshop.

 Spend your time in Photoshop being Creative as opposed to Corrective!

Now it seems that whenever the subject of Photoshop is discussed there are always those people that come out with the stock phrase of ‘I prefer to get it right in camera‘; well, guess do I and so does Calvin Hollywood, so does Scott Kelby, Matt Kloskowski, Tim Wallace, Joe McNally, Bert Stephani, Alan Hess, David E Jackson and so it goes on! What I’m getting at here is that my style of work comes from how I light and shoot my subjects and how I edit; the two go hand in hand and my ‘style’ is very much down to Photography and Photoshop.

I’ll work as hard as I can to get the ‘in camera’ shots as good as is possible so that my time in Photoshop working on those images later is spent being creative as opposed to corrective and fixing things I could should have done correctly at the time!

Deep breath and breathe…1, 2, 3…

Right now I’ve got that out of my system let’s look at this particular shoot…

As I’ve mentioned, time was not on my side, so working quick and working light (no pun intended) was going to be my best option so when it came to lighting kit I used my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra and a medium softbox … and that was it; nothing more, nothing less!

So why the Quadra? Well, quite simple because of it’s portability and fast recycling time and just opting for the one set up meant no messing around swapping this and that; we could just set up and run with it…

The softbox was positioned in such a way that it would give roughly the same shadows had the subjects been lit by the lamp on the staircase, which incidentally was turned off because of the awful colour it was throwing out and also to avoid any lens flare. The light was ‘turned on’ during the editing phase; a technique I’ll share on the blog at some point.

So now we have our subject lit by the Quadra and Softbox, the lamp on the staircase has now been ‘turned on’, and all that was left to do apart from enhancing details and working on the colour, was to add a couple of spotlights onto the paintings on the walls, which again was done during the editing stage. Incidentally, I’ll be showing this faux spotlight technique during my webinar this coming Sunday 4th September [Link] when at the end I’ll be doing 5 minutes or so of ‘Speedy Tips and Techniques’.

If only I’d had more time…
The question is, had I had the luxury of more time for this photo shoot would I have done things differently?, and the answer to that is a resounding ‘No!’.

Clients hire us to produce results and give them what they want regardless of time constraints so ‘If only I’d had more time…‘ just doesn’t cut it.

It may be that you would have positioned some lights onto the paintings but I was approaching this shoot like I always do, and dealing with limited space and time, so thinking of what I can do later in ‘post’ works for me. I love spending time playing editing in Photoshop but it has to be time spent being creative because I don’t get paid for correcting things I should have got right ‘in camera’

So there you have it, a complete B.T.S. (Behind The scenes) of how I approached the recent Cinderella shoot; I just hope I haven’t disappointed any of you by revealing it was all done with just the one light 🙂

As always, if you have any questions or comments then please feel free to make use of the comments section below, but in the mean time have a great weekend and I’ll catch you back here in a few days if not sooner during the Webinar [Link]
Enjoy 🙂

ps> Thanks to my Buddy Noel Hannan for helping me out by playing the role of ‘assistant’ on the day

•     •     •

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  1. Sebastian

    I was hoping that I was right about one light after observing shadows 🙂 Well done Glyn. I can see that we have a similar approach to shooting and working on the final result from the click of the shutter, not from downloading images to HDD.

  2. Cathy Kennedt

    Thanks for that insight as to how it was all shot, lit, edited etc. Looking forward to reading more blogs. Well done again – those pics are stunning and certainly capture the atmosphere of the story of Cinderella

  3. Ciaran Cummins

    I knew that was how you did it I just didn’t want to say and spoil the fun. 😉 Very insightful and very useful as always. I really thought that Cinders was placed in afterwards as the gaze of the sisters behind seemed to be looking passed her.
    Just a question on her ball gown, it looks really soft is that just the lighting or did you do something in post like a mask to hide a contrast boost or some such thing? The whole scene appears ghostly. Ok enough babble, that was fun and as always great to see how you achieve your shots.

  4. Kevin Halliburton

    Well done Glyn! I really thought you locked off on a tripod, took a series of bracketed shots of the scene, placed everyone and lit them in the scene with one light, and merged the two images together later. Then I found what I thought was an editing error on the right hand of the step sister in the black and white cow print. The way that right hand is positioned right in front of the railing it looked like it was posed to be grabbing the railing and you missed a mask on the fingers. Seeing a couple of other angles it looks like the moldings, and the hard edged shadows on the wall, might be painted on the wall, am I right? Those hard edged wall shadows with the soft edged subject shadows really threw me too. Just goes to show you that even in today’s edit happy world, you really can still trust your eyes and what they are seeing occasionally. You are a stud Glyn!

    • Glyn

      Thanks for all the comments re the lighting set up folks…believe me it would have been fun to do a composite for this but time was definitely against me.

    • Glyn

      @Allen…Funnily enough that’s what I find myself saying each and every time I look at your images 😉

  5. Jonathan Thompson

    It always amazes me what can be achieved with 1 light. Beautiful images and on such a tight time line, you’re really coming into your own. Wish I could attend the webinar, maybe I’ll be able to tune in, last minuet.
    Catch up soon for the beach & Oxford WWPW

    • Glyn

      @Jonathan…Yep, there are times when 1 light is the way to go 🙂

  6. Terry Donnelly

    Great result, keep it simple rocks.

    • Glyn

      @Terry…Cheers Buddy

  7. DaveT

    Thanks for the details of the shoot – insightful as always.

    Whilst I like the composite results you produce, this sort of lighting and post production is far closer to what I would like to achieve in my own shooting style (mainly travel related), so I relate very much to the simplicity of lighting, as I generally only carry one speedlight when traveling, with a trigger for off camera use. I look forward to seeing more on how you developed the image to produce the final shot.


  8. Roger Griffiths

    Superb Glynn, looking forward to find out “how to switch the light on”.

    PS did you use a meter when you set up the Quadra?

    • Glyn

      @Roger…Thanks mate. I’ll look at doing that tutorial in the near future 😉

  9. pete collins

    I love all of the titillating background painting! 😀

    • Glyn

      Must have been an interesting time to be around what with everyone walking around like that 🙂 lol

  10. Christian Carroll

    Great post! Sorry, I’m arriving a bit late to your blog here. 🙂

    I love that you pulled this off with just one light. And the “Never ending lighting rig” post was also super useful. Thank you!

    If you have time at some point in the future I’d love to know how you “turned on” the banister light. I’ve seen David E. Jackson do similar things in his work and always wondered about the technique that was used. I think I have an idea of how it “might” be done, but I’d love to hear your approach. Thanks again!

    • Glyn

      Hi Christian.
      Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words. Regards the light effect, I’ll look at putting a video tutorial together and posting here in the near future.
      Glyn 🙂



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