Monday, August 21, 2017

American Monster Photo Shoot

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/320, f/5.6, ISO 400 @70mmgridded speed light just below camera on lens axis

It's always a pleasure when you get to work with great people.  Working with Derrick Smith from American Monster has been a pleasure for us.  BLP was asked to come in and get some marketing photos for social media and the company website.

I thought I'd take you through the process.

Derrick had been familiar with my work from other events that we've shot like editorial work from the Arnold Fitness Expo, our portrait work and street photography.  

Derrick already had the models in mind he wanted to use, so that was not something that BLP needed to do.    That is not always the case, as there are times when the client has a vision, but no models.  If the models had not already been procured by American Monster, we could have used places like Model Mayhem or reached out on social media to find the talent.

Just wanted to give a shout out to the models:

Josh and Amanda Salley, Kyle Smith and Jeramy Weiss.

Image © Derrick Smith / American Monster
We met a few times prior to the shoot to discuss what we wanted to achieve as the end goal.  Derrick is a great photographer and videographer in his own right, but he decided that he would much rather hand the reigns over to me to get the shots and he would take on the role of the artistic director for the shoot.   At the pre shoot meetings, the goal was to get some environmental portraits and scenes, not too posed or staged...with a bit of an edge to them without looking over processed or cartoony.   A hint of grit and grunge, if you will.

Image © Derrick Smith  /  American Monster
Location is important, and there were 2 for this shoot.  The first being an outdoor oasis, just a 25 minute drive from our home location.   We had farmland, pond, open fields...a lot to choose from.   The second location was inside a gym.

So, we have the theme, the we need to determine how we are going to get the look we want.

Image © Derrick Smith / American Monster
Sometimes you gotta put your back against the wall and get low.

Going back to my office, I think about how I want to do it.   Shooting is going to start at 9am, so we still have a good directional light.  If we are backlit, we will want to have some fill light - better bring the off camera flash!    I don't want a soft light, though - so I'm thinking bare light, grids or even a ring light type effect.

Image © Derrick Smith / American Monster
Use what is available to you.  Create a large softbox by bouncing off the back wall and ceiling!
With that tight of a flash beam, though, I'm thinking 2 lights - one key light for the subject and one auxiliary light source for the apparel logos.    Reflectors too...bringing those...they are invaluable!!

Here is the gear list for those interested:
Nikon D500
Nikon D700
Nikon 24-70/2.8 AF-S
Tamron 70-200/2.8 VC
Tokina 11-16/2.8
Nikon 18-140/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR
Nikon SB-26 and SB-28
2 light stands
Opteka 1/4" and 1/8" honeycomb grids
RadioPopper TX/RX (Nano) wireless trigger system
Frio Cold Shoes
Interfit 5-1 fold up reflector/diffuser

Post processing is something I highly believe in.   Some people feel that straight out of camera is the way to go.  If I were shooting a news piece or editorial work, then I'd leave them largely untouched.  In this shoot, we are looking for not only a representation of the products, but also a style to the images.

99% of my post workflow is done in Lightroom.   I also use some plug-ins from On1 and Nik.

My flow goes as follows:
1)  Run all the images through my Nikon Lightroom preset as a base.
2)  Spot check each image to tweak the exposures
3)  Do any cropping I might deem desirable.
4)  Run the images through On1 Effect 2017 (these color images were run through the "Kryptonite" preset and then tweaked)
5)  For select images, I may also run them through a monochrome processing.  For those, I used Nik Silver Efex Pro "film noir harsh" or the On1 Effects 2017 black and white presets of "Kodak Panatomic 32" or "City Streets" - and as always, tweak as necessary.

Luckily, all these tools have a batch processing features so I don't have to touch each and every one.

First thing I do once on location is start scouting for shooting locations.  The property is expansive, but the first thing that hits my eye is this tree with small leaves and  that "weeping willow" style branches.  Sorry to the tree people out there - I don't know the names of my trees very well.  lol.  The morning sun is hitting it in such a way that it is providing a great backdrop that will make the clothing the models are wearing stand out.  

An expansive pond with lots of interesting props all around can be used as well...then we have the farm-esque side of the property with the iconic white fence, red barn and horses.

Alright, ready for the shoot.  And off we go!
The Nikon D500, Nikon 18-140, Tokina 11-16 and Tamron 70-200 were used here along with the Nikon SB speed lights and Opteka grids.  In some later shots, we used the white panel of the reflector and the diffuser panel.  We will go into more detail in each of the shots - just check out the data underneath each.

Nikon D500 / Tamron 70-200/2.8 VC / Nikon SB-600
1/800, ISO 100, F/5.6 @75mm - on axis fill flash @ -1.0
Model: Amanda
Nikojn D500 / Tamron 70-200/2.8VC  /  Nikon SB-26, SB-28
1/250, F/4, ISO 100 @70mm - SB both gridded, one on face, one on graphic on tank top
Model:   Kyle
Nikon D500  /  Nikon 18-140
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100 @40mm
Model:  Josh
Nikon D500  /  Nikon 18-140  /  Nikon SB-26
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 100 @45mm
Used the diffuser panel to cut the hard light from camera left,
then filled in the hat and back with SB speed lights.
Model:  Amanda
Nikon D500  /  Nikon 18-140  /  SB-600
1/1250, f/4.2, ISO 100 @35mm
SB speed light low and to camera left.
grid skimmed the gun then on to models face
Model: Josh
Nikon D500  /  Tokina 11-16/2.8
1/400, f/5.6, ISO 100 @11mm
Reflector to camera left to bring up shadows.
Model: Kyle

Once wrapped up at the outdoor location, we head to the gym location.   My lighting is going to be similar, but the vibe is a bit different here.  While the outdoor location provided us with a gritty, earthy and relaxed feel - the gym gives us an intensity and a slightly different gritty feel.   The energy is amped, and the models are no strangers to the gym.  You can see almost immediately ion the shots the concentration and more serious tone.

The results:
We were closer quarters here and the ambient light was much dimmer.  The D500 is great, but the APS-C sensor would give us a lot less room(proximity) to work with inside the gym.  Breaking out the D700 and the 24-70 for the entirety of the gym.  Nikon SB's still employed.  Depending on the shots, we still used the grids, but other shots benefited from bouncing the SB off the back wall and getting more of a flood of light.

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-26
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 800 @62mm
Double exposure created in Nik Analog Efex
Model: Jeramy

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 800 @52mm
B&W processing in Nik Silver Efex
Model: Jeramy

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 800 @52mmImage flipped in post so graphic in mirror is not reversed
Model: Jeramy

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28, SB-26
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 800 @56mmone speed light bounced off back wall/ceiling
other speed light gridded and run along the back bottom row of dumb bells.
Post processing Nik Silver Efex
Model: Jeramy

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/250, f/5.6, ISO 800 @70mmspeed light bounced over my head on back wall/ceiling
Model: Amanda

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28, SB-26
1/320, f/5.6, ISO 800 @24mmone speed light bounced on wall to the left
other speed light just to camera left to light t-shirt graphic
Post processing done in Lightroom CC
Model: Josh

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 800 @29mmspeed light bounced off wall behind camera
Model: Kyle

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28, SB-26
1/200, f/5.6, ISO 800 @56mmone speed light bounced on wall to camera right
other speed light gridded and shot low to illuminate foot area
Model: Josh

Nikon D700 / Nikon 24-70/2.8 / Nikon SB-28
1/200, f/5, ISO 800 @70mmone speed light bounced off wall/ceiling camera right
Model: Kyle