Friday, January 21, 2011

Happy Birthday!


Self portrait (click image to view larger)

Last week was my birthday - and what better way to celebrate than to pull out a nice, fat Cohiba and start tugging away in a vintage suit with a terrible trailer trash handlebar moustache?!

The problem is...I'm not much of a smoker, so by the time we finished up and got the image we were after...I was admittedly feeling (and likely looking) a little green.

I recently got a Westcott softbox kit, which I've been eager to play with a little more. The kit comes with a regular stand and I just don't have a boom for it....

No boom? No problem! Get yourself what Joe McNally calls a "voice activated light stand" - Cristy, my lovely and trusty assistant, was there to help out. I had the camera on the tripod setup with a remote shutter release and mounted with my Tokina 11-16 f2.8. The camera was on a 10 second timer, so when we were ready, I started the timer and Cristy held the softbox in close pointing it straight down from above just in front of me. And other than the bare speedlight directly behind me to light up the smoke, there was a white reflector in front of me camera right to fill a little, which you can see working on my leg and on a little on the chair (speedlights triggered with CyberSyncs - more on gear here).

I must admit that I cheated a little - the end of the cigar was just grey and ashy, so I added that cindery glow later with a paintbrush in photoshop and changed the blending mode so that it would look realistic. I think I also got a little lucky with the unpredictable smoke the way it follows the length of the cigar and streams up from my hand.

Have a wonderful & creative weekend and a very happy unbirthday to everyone else!

A few outtakes:
If you look at the larger version you'll see the focus is on the wrong spot
and although I actually kind of like it...it's not what we were going for....
Still framing up the shot, but...there's nothing gangster about cute kittens
in the shot and cat toys on the floor....
Turned out way too dark, of course, but the cat looks hilarious.
See next photo:
 
Same shot as the picture above only brightened - also went crazy with the
"fill" slider in Camera Raw to see what was going on - that cat's funny!
 
Now we're starting to get the effect we want. The reflector isn't in place yet.... 
Now add the back light, which is there to illuminate the smoke.
First frame - of course the speedlight in the softbox didn't fire. Too bad....
That's ok...you can see the edge of the softbox anyway and

there's still a cute cat in the shot - less tough looking....



3 comments:

Sandra said...

Nice job! Great lighting. I like the bare speed light behind you. I'm gonna have to try that soon. Thanks for the detailed info.

Thomas Folke Andersen said...

Very cool shot Shayne. Thanks for sharing. Studio lighting is something I'm yet to venture into in more detail, but this is inspirational for sure!

ardean said...

love the cat's expression!
very cool execution. i'm getting excited to shoot again - and work on more conceptual stuff in a couple of weeks.

i like the last shot. i can see it in black and white, and instead of the soft back boomed camera left [if it had fired], a gridded spot from camera right, maybe highlighting just your hand....

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