Pre Production For Post Production. Composite Lifestyle Shooting.

Tomorrow I have a location lifestyle shoot planned with a couple of models so I thought I’d give a glimpse on how I prepare for some of my shoots.

It can be surprising to some people just how much pre-production can go into even the smallest shoots especially if they are on location.
My shoot tomorrow has it’s own particular added elements that need careful preparation and close attention and that is because the backgrounds have already been captured several months before.
When I travel I often will go out capturing my chosen locations before dawn or dusk for the best light (depending on what I’m after).
If I have a choice I prefer dawn not because I love to get up at 4am (in the summer) but because there is less likely to be any tourists around especially in popular city locations.
Saying that having been a retoucher for 21 years I know some clever techniques to very simply remove people from images in post without the need for any stress while on location if needed.

My models will be captured either in my studio or as is more often the case outside in natural daylight and supplemented with lighting if required.

So for this shoot to be captured and be successfully blended realistically in post-production there are many things that need careful attention. Here are just a few of the basics.

The light quality
Light angle
Light temperature
The surrounding elements and their colour
Camera height
Camera angle (perspective)
Lens focal length (this can be tweaked a little)

As I said these are just a few things that I’m carefully looking at.
To help me with this I create a markup image for quick reference (shown below).

Here are a few samples from a previous shoot.

As you will see in the second picture in the bottom row if possible I’ll always take a snap of myself in the scene.
You have probably already guessed that this gives me a great reference when I shoot my models to how the light in the scene should be interacting on them even if it’s not a pretty picture!

So one question you may ask is why go to so much trouble why not shoot the models in situ like many photographers?
Well, I first should add I’m definitely not against doing it all in camera and often do however there is a multitude of reasons why it might not always be possible.
The main one is simply the logistics of getting models, stylist, makeup artist and the many other people that make up a production crew to a particular location at a certain time.
For me, it’s partly the above plus, of course, the substantial costs involved as some of these images are purely self-funded portfolio pieces so budgets can be naturally tight.
The other more personal reason is it enables me the luxury of more time to concentrate on capturing the changing light and various angles the locations has to offer with more flexibility.

It was interesting to read that Lord Litchfield towards the latter end of his career shot in a similar way.
As far as the post-production is concerned there is, of course, some work (and cost involved)  pulling all the elements together but then how often these days does an image not have some retouching applied before being published? If planned and executed correctly the image can often come together remarkably quickly.

As I said above I’m quite happy working and doing it all in camera and have done so many times but for me working this way provides a flexible alternative providing it’s planned accordingly.

Luxury Interiors 

A new gallery of my Luxury Interior work has been added to the website and can be viewed here.

Location Lifestyle Portrait, Asur At Dawn

Location Lifestyle Portrait, Asur At Dawn

I’ve mentioned before that for 10 years I was fortunate enough to have a holiday home in Turkey.
On one trip while out shooting at dawn, I captured a  location lifestyle portrait of this chap Asur Teber who was a security guard at one of the beachfront hotels in Gumbet.
He spoke no English but was more than willing for me to capture his picture, in fact, I eventually had to make my excuses to get back for my breakfast as he didn’t want me to stop !.
I arranged to send him a print as I always believe if people have given me their time and ask for a copy of the image it’s the very least I can do and always deliver on that.
Unfortunately, I mislaid his details so I decided to deliver the print the following year to the hotel he worked at.
I was told by the hotel that he no longer worked there, and he apparently lived in northern Turkey and they had no contact details.
I left the prints anyway in the hope they might one day find there a way to him.

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Interior Dilemma

In this day and age we are told it’s all about “The Brand” and being known as a specialist in a particular area.
I’m no different my strength and biggest passion are definitely in capturing people on location .
Does this mean I’ve never been able to shoot anything else ? of course not in fact I used to photograph cars for many years. On the back of this I also got involved very early on into HDR
image based lighting for the rendering of Computer Generated Images for the automotive industry.
I’ve also had clients ask me to captured things that I definitely would not consider my strongest areas or ever promote to be a specialist in such as food.
Obviously I always explain this to the client and if they still want me to do the job and I’m happy I can do a good job I’ll do it. I’m only capable of this because I’ve been around a bit and confident in my craft and knowledge of lighting etc.
Interiors are another genre I have done for many years and still do.
I’ve resisted putting this work on my main website until now due to the concern that it might dilute my specialist areas of Travel & Corporate Lifestyle.
However it’s an area I get asked to shoot a lot and enjoy plus it does have some crossover into the Travel market so I’ve added some of this work as a gallery Luxurious Interiors.

A Perch In The Storm

I found myself on the North Devon coast for a small shoot on Saturday.The weather was less than pleasant but I decided on the journey home to head across the top of Exmoor.
Sometimes harsh weather just suits a location and a damp Exmoor with low hanging cloud seemed to feel strangely perfect.
As I drove I spotted this crow sat on top of this tree and immediately new it had potential to make a great image.
Luckily I managed to pull over and grab my camera which was already set up on the rear seat. To my surprise the crow stayed in place perfectly just sat overlooking the bleak cliffs and coast and I managed to capture 6 or so frames before it got spooked and flew off.
Back in the days of film I would often shoot 1000 ASA Agfa RS film which was renown for it’s impressive grain especially when pushed to 2000 ASA and pushed in processing.
I decided in post to enhance the harsh atmosphere further by adding a copious helping of old school grain although not to the extent of the old Agfa stock!

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St Paul’s Chapel And Post Production Ironing.

Last week I finally got around to shooting some models to be able to complete several images I had captured from my latest trip to Greece.
Casting the right models for a shoot together with right styling is always something that needs careful consideration to work well.
On top of that because this image was a composite the actual photography needed very careful planning as lighting, light quality, perspective, colour amongst many other things all needs to come together for the final image to work seamlessly.

 

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Shooting Plan Mark Up

 

Even with all the best planning however the odd curve ball can still pop up. Despite preparation the night before one of the models shirts got a little creased on route to the shoot.
Normally this would not had been an issue except the studio iron decided to retire itself ! Fortunately I knew a digital solution and with the schedule being tight I decided this would be a better than have a delay acquiring another iron.

Digital-ironing

The background image was captured pre dawn and created from around 27 frames stitched together in post to allow for a more pleasing perspective with a 41mm lens and deliver a wider dynamic range.
I decided during the final stages of the composite to change the colour of the female models top from blue to a more contrasting orange to help draw the viewers eye to the models.

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Like Clock Work

Today was one of those morning where everything seems to work for you seamlessly and you come away feeling blessed.

I arrived at Lyndos village pre dawn to capture a couple of locations and came across this stunning side street with a beautiful white washed church and the sunrise lit bay behind.

As I finished the image a street cleaner arrived jet washing the cobbles adding an even better surface for the dawn light to bounce off.

I decided to reshoot the image again especially as the colours had further intensified from the rising sun. A fabulous morning of exploring and shooting some stunning locations.

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Saint George Chapel Lyndos

Dodging The Wife At Dawn

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I woke a 4.45am and once again managed to avoid waking the wife and kids (I think) and tiptoed out of the hotel room.

A family holiday always includes some planned photography shoots which often means some early starts to avoid the tourists and capture the best light. This trip despite being in Rhodes the previous year was no different.

My plan for the following morning was to capture some street lit dawn images around the old town in Rhodes. I had no particular location set in stone it was more of a suck it and see what I stumbled across.

I woke a 4.45am and once again managed to avoid waking the wife and kids (I think) and tiptoed out of the hotel room.

At this time of the morning there were no tourists around just gangs of street cats,street sweepers and groups of scary drunk girls to dodge. It’s a fantastic time of day (night) to be exploring but you do have to be careful as on more than one occasion I’ve almost tripped over and woken the odd person sleeping rough!

The morning went well and I captured 2-3 locations and was finished by sunrise and back at the hotel in plenty of time for breakkie.

 

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St Paul’s Gate Rhodes

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Rhodes Old Town