From Soup to Nuts- Campfire stories

To start the new year off I figured I’d do another beginning to end post on a recent personal project I completed.  As visual communicators, I think it is incredibly important to hone your vision through the use of personal projects.  After all, if you don’t exercise your vision how can you expect to obtain stellar results on your clients work?

Step 1.  Initial sketch.

I always begin with a very rudimentary sketch of what it is I’m trying to accomplish.  In the immortal words of Doc Brown, “Please excuse the crudity of this model, I didn’t have time to build it to scale or to paint it.”

sketching the concept

Concept sketch for the camfire stories photoshoot

I know, I’m a regular picasso right?  Anywho, from here I start fleshing out the particulars; models, lighting, wardrobe etc.  For this particular project I had people already in mind, so it was just a matter of convincing them that they wanted to do it:)  Luckily I have wonderful friends who like to see my imagination come to life so they were more than willing to help me out.  The biggest problem was going to be the location.  I wasn’t keen on carting my entire studio setup out to the middle of a campsite, so I decided to bring the campsite to the studio.  It was a full day of prep work to build the site, but it was totally worth it.  This way I had complete control of the lighting and the models would be much more comfortable (being that it was already the middle of October in the north east).  The only thing that I wasn’t able to replicate in the studio would be the background, that would have to be photographed outside at a later date.
The lighting for this shot was somewhat complex.  I really needed to replicate the glow of the campfire as much as possible without being overly lit.  We ended up going with 8 lights, all of them gelled with various orange and yellow mylar.  The lights on the two boys were up high and at 45 degree angle while our scout leader was lit from a strobe hidden in the campfire.  the highlights were created by two low strobes on either side, which were flagged.  The whole scene was then bathed in fill light with a magnum reflector.
strobe diagram for campfire setup

lighting diagram for campfire setup

The studio shoot itself went off without a hitch.  The background was kept dark so I had an easy time punching it out from the foreground.  That way I could just pop in the correct background at a later date.

behind the scenes campfire shot, unretouched

image before knocking out the background

From here it was just a matter of photographing the background on location and popping it in.  I chose a spot in a local park that kinda fit the mood of what I was after.  From here I just waited for the right time of day, set up two strobes, and fired away.

photograph of the background image

background shot, park near my studio

Once I combined the two images together, it was just a simple matter of my regular post production set up along with adding all of the eyes digitally (I took a bunch of photos of my cats eyes!) and voila, the final image!

finished campfire stories image

I had it sent off to have printed and I must say it turned out great!  I had it done on metallic paper at 20″x30″.  If anybody is interested in a print, you can get alot of my work here.

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