Monday, January 28, 2013

Shooting For Compositing

Today's image is a start and finish sort of thing.  The subjects were shot using a Westcott X-drop Backdrop with a white backdrop cloth.  The X-drop is one of the most portable, easy to use, location setups I've ever used.  The subject is an outdoorsman and was looking for a shot with his trusty hiking companion in an outdoor setting.  There wasn't time to drive to some idyllic setting as the need for the image was about eighteen hours from phone call to publishing the shot.  The day I shot the stream behind the team was a bitterly cold fall day last year, so he well may have worn the jacket, sweater and shirt you see him in.  It was cold!!!!  Could the shot have been done "in camera"?  Sure, given the time, the distance and the gas money to get up and back the two hundred miles.  Unfortunately, we had none of those options.  To find out about the options we did have a the setup I used, hit the "Read More".

We meet at the hall I knew I could get access to.  By the time the subject arrived I had everything setup.  In addition to the #Westcott X-drop it was a four light arrangement.  The main light was a Beauty Dish set directly over the camera position.  A light on either side and a single light on the X-drop.  All were Nikon speedlights.  The two side lights were through fairly tight grids pointed just to the front of ninety degrees.  Two groups were used and the whole mess triggered using the Nikon CLS (Creative Lighting System.  Talk about down and dirty. 

The camera was set on manual with 125th of a second and F-8 dialed in.  The lights were all set on TTL (Through The Lens) in two groups.  The beautydish and the background light on one channel and the gridded lights on the sides another.  The first channel was set to one stop higher than the second.  The first shot was a test.  Because the camera was on manual and the lights set to TTL the exposure was right on.  The dog was distracted and his head looking to his far right.  Took two more shots and said "we're done".  I'm pretty sure the subject was thinking "really?  All these lights and we're done in three shots?"  When you're on a budget, you're on a budget.  I knew shot number two was what I was looking for and making active animals sit around basically never works.  I could have used shot three, but knew by the time we got to shot five the dog would have been getting antsy.

Post processing was deciding "where" to put them.  Knowing it needed to be an outdoorsy shot just made me look back through the shots from our little trip last October to the lighthouses of Maine and the hills of New Hampshire.  We had done quite a bit of woodsy shots and used a different crop of one I wrote about back at the end of October.  Here's the link to see the original crop.

A little emphasis using filters from Topaz Labs brought out detail in the dog and the fellow.  I had to bring back the detail (it was too much) in the face, but the dog popped at fill strength.  Sent the composite off to the fellow within the allotted time and just got an email saying it was better than he had hoped an the publication would be running it with his article.

Speed and fast and light location equipment worked to get the needed image.