I seem to have a thing for barns in Peterborough! As part of the Hot Rod & American Custom Car show, Hayley was hanging out in an empty barn with a 50’s pinup outfit and matching Corvette.
This was taken with a Canon 24-70mm lens with my back to the open door of the barn. Diffused afternoon sun was being bounced in but in general the barn was pretty gloomy – a great chance to pop up some lights.
There are two lights in this scene. An Elinchrom Quadra in a 28″ Westcott Apollo softbox and a bare hot shoe flash behind Hayley to separate her from the background to give the hint of the sun possibly setting out of frame behind her.
1. The lovely Hayley Sams
2. A classic Corvette
3. An Elinchrom Quadra head in a Westcott Apollo 28″ softbox
4. The Quadra pack on a very low power setting
5. Canon 580EXII speedlight with a slight warming gel atop a Manfrotto Nano stand and trigger with a Skyport.
Don’t get hung up on the gear though, this could have easily been shot with a couple of used speedlights and a cheap shoot through umbrella.
I positioned myself so the kicker light was hidden behind Hayley’s head to give her a rim light. If I moved too far, the light crept into shot making the backlit effect over the top.
But with the right framing and some final tweaks in Lightroom (including bumping the saturation up a little and warming the image overall to add to the sunset illusion) it looked like this:
Looking back at the shot a few weeks later, I noticed the overly bright windscreen and the shadow cast by the rear view mirror. It looked too contrived. I could live with the slight reflection of the softbox at the bottom left of the windscreen but the light blasting in from behind bugged me. So into Photoshop I went.
Luckily, at one point I took a shot where I’d set the rear flash not to fire. Using Photoshop’s fantastic panorama tool I was able to very quickly align the two photos and just mask in the naturally lit glass. You can see the frame with the unlit windscreen aligned over the image I want to use.
The layer mask is very simple – the upper layer is hidden except for the windscreen.
Here is the final result. As always any feedback or questions are welcome in the comments below.
When everything goes exactly to plan it’s easy to get the shot, but what if your ducks aren’t in the same pond, let alone in a row? That’s when you’ve got to work harder to pull something out of the bag. It tests your mettle and pushes your ability to make the best of what you have to work with.
I came up against this sort of situation again recently at Santa Pod. The Fast Show is the first show of the modified season in the UK and being March, the weather can be is bit hit or miss. In this case, it missed. In the first few hours we had rain, then sleet and finally some snow – none of which is conducive to running cars down a drag strip!
Trying to dry the track as the sleet comes down
But… everyone was there and trying to make the best of it, including one of my clients who now sponsor a lane on the strip and needed some publicity photos. The Performance Direct girls Faye and Hayley were brave enough to come out from under cover so it was time to get planning. Here’s the thought process:
A closed drag strip is bad for all the people wanting to see how fast their daily driver can do a 1/4 mile but good for me as it means I can use the freshly resurfaced start line as my location. The wet surface will also give a nice reflection of the girls red wellies.
With my 70-200mm racked out to 200mm I can compress the scene and bring the famous Santa Pod sign closer.
The sky is a very flat, dull grey so to get some interest in the clouds I will under expose by 2 stops.
Underexposing will mean Faye and Hayley are dark, so I need a flash. It’ll make the red and white outfits pop nicely against the grey background too.
It’s pouring with rain so I’m using one of my old Nikon SB24’s. I’m not risking one of my Quadras.
I’ve got limited power with the flash so I’m going to have to crank it quite high and use it bare. Too windy for a softbox anyway.
I’ll fly it on a boom as I need to get quite a way back at 200mm and I don’t want to have to Photoshop the stand out in post.
A quick check with the light meter tells me im at f/11 at 1/160th. Test shot of the back of my hand to double check.
Time to get the girls on “set”!
Finessing the pose: The ancient art of Brolly Tweaking
It was wet, windy and cold so I had to work fast but with everything thought through and dialed in while they were in the warmth of the media centre I could concentrate on getting a good pose and composition and be done in a few minutes.
Here’s the final set up. Shot from a low angle, zoomed to 200mm, flash high, to camera left, client looking on and Fay and Hayley doing what they do best.
The final set up
And here’s the resulting image, used by Performance Direct across their various channels. Big thanks to Faye & Hayley, Matt at PD, Suze at Santa Pod for her hospitality and Darren for the behind the scenes shots.