Photo Shoot & Post Production: Complete Walkthrough

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: October 1, 2010

Category: Videos

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:

Technical:
Nikon D3
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.

Photograph 3:
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 all ๐Ÿ™‚ and 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,
Enjoy ๐Ÿ™‚

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22 Comments

  1. neal

    Very nice walk through Glyn mate. I am glad I was there to assist and learn. As I said, such a lovely man and I am so happy that he loved the final results!

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neal…Absolutely mate; a real gent!
      Looking forward to working with you on the shoots coming up ๐Ÿ™‚ #alwaysalaugh

      Reply
  2. Keith Hammond

    good info/detail follow up Glyn as Neal had the vid on high speed you know had to keep re-playing it ๐Ÿ˜‰
    Did you have the speedlight on RU4 mode so the Quadra tripped it ?
    Are you shooting wired tethered or have you hammered the plastic on a wi-fi job.
    Good post as always mate, easy to follow info.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Keith…Thanks mate; glad you like it.
      Re the Speedlight yeah it was set to the Nikon SU4 Mode so that the Quadra triggered it; a real handy utility which I use alot.
      I’m tethering using a cable at the moment. Main reason being is that the wi-fi versions I’ve tried still aren’t as quick as I’d like and at the moment wired definitely has the edge. Would love to tether wirelessly because of the flexibility but unfortunately not just yet ๐Ÿ™

      Cheers.

      Reply
  3. Paul Pratt

    A very nice informative post Glyn. I’m interested in tethered shooting and it’s nice to see a real world application and its justification rather than just because you can!

    Nice info on the tie up between the pre and post work too and how closely integrated they are. I believe the British Army has an acronym that is appropriate; PPPPPPP http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_Ps_(military_adage)

    Cheers

    Paul

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Thanks for looking in and for commenting Paul ๐Ÿ™‚
      TBH if I can, I’ll tether all the time as for the reasons i mentioned it saves so much time in post later because you see so much more.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      ps> Ah yes, the PPPPPPP … know it well ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  4. kelley

    Great to watch all the work going on! Beautiful results.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Kelley…Thanks for that ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  5. Dominic

    Firstly, congrats on another excellent shoot with perfect results and secondly thanks for a great insight into how you look to run things whilst on a shoot.

    Great idea to get your clients to look through mags or the net to be able to show ideas instead of trying to verbally convey what they would like to achieve, which isn’t always easy to do.

    Dom

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Dom…Thanks for looking in and for the kind words; I really appreciate it mate, and yeah the magazine/internet research by the client saves alot of time and headaches believe me ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers, Glyn

      Reply
  6. Tim Skipper

    Glyn

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who has clients look at magazines. This has helped me so many times to create a bridge of what they say they want and my understanding of that request. Not to mention they get really excited about planning their session.

    I also like the fact you rearranged his house to fit the idea. I did this yesterday at a commercial shoot and it really made the picture.

    The great part is these are really well done images with great portfolio potential. It the kind of portraits that will attract more clients.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Tim…Yeah the magazine thing is a real help huh ๐Ÿ™‚ Saves so much time and head scratching wondering what it is the client really wants.

      Thanks for the kind words too; definitely the kind of work I enjoy doing.
      Cheers,
      Glyn

      ps> It’s been a few days now so I’m guessing Colin will have the house back to normal; looked like a bomb had hit it after I’d moved everything around…lol ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  7. Neil Glover

    Great post mate, really informative.

    It was good to meet you at Zacks Onelight the other week.

    Keep up the good work

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Neil…Thanks mate and yeah ditto, great to catch up…must arrange a beer in the not too distant future ๐Ÿ™‚

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  8. DaveT

    Glyn,

    I’ve been away travelling for a few weeks and came back to this. In a word excellent.

    This sort of information is invaluable to me as I strive to improve my photography – Thank You!!

    Dave

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @DaveT…Very kind of you to say that; thanks and it’s great to hear you find it useful.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  9. David Kelly

    Glyn,

    Thanks (as always) for such a really insightful post – helps us newbies get a bit of a head start on lighting ๐Ÿ™‚

    BTW What did Colin think of the final set of images?

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @David…Thanks; glad you like it.
      Pleased to report that Colin is really pleased with the results so ‘mission accomplished’ ๐Ÿ™‚

      Reply
  10. Noel Hannan

    Glyn,
    great series of shots. Colin must be really pleased with them. i like your thinking about the finished product – you obviously think to get it as close as possible in-camera. This reminds me of when i used to shoot film – and particularly transparencies. You have to get it right in camera.

    thanks for sharing
    Noel

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Noel…Absolutely. I’d much rather take the time getting it right than correcting later and having to spend unnecessary time in Photoshop.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting mate; I really appreciate it.

      Reply
  11. Govind Vekaria

    Wow, how do you find the time to right up about all this too?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Govind.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Govind…Thanks for dropping by, and good question…I must confess it’s down to the coffee allowing me to see a little more of the day than I would normally.

      Hope you’re keeping well,
      Catch up soon,
      Glyn

      Reply

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