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A Mini Adventure

Discussion in 'Lighting Tutorials' started by MichaelSewell, Jan 6, 2016.

  1. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
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    Lloyd Mini Dealership in Colne have been clients and good friends for quite some time. A little while ago we were contacted by their manager, Matt, and asked to photograph the latest released Mini Cooper S with the intention of having the image on a wall in the handover bay. I asked what he would like, and his answer was “Something interesting”.

    It was cold, blowing a bit and chucking it down. We had the car for a day and a half, and couldn't rely on the weather being any better the next day, so we had to get at least one image on the first day, and incorporate the weather into the shot.
    Lighting an object in the studio, and making it interesting can take from one, to half a dozen or more lights. Out on location, you’re in another ball game altogether.

    The above location, for those who are intrigued, is the Atom panopticon above Wycoller village. I felt that given the weather, the panopticon may give an other worldly feel to the image with the right lighting and atmosphere. Bearing in mind, the Mini is marketed in the UK as an exciting and adventurous drive.

    The first thing to consider was the ambient light. Although cloudy and raining quite heavily, I opted to lower the ambient by shooting at an ISO of 200, and even with a shutter speed of 1/60th sec and an aperture of f5, it underexposed the scene by around two stops, making the rather flat grey sky much darker and menacing.

    The first light is a Godox 600Ws Energiser (available in different guises from several suppliers) camera left, firing at ½ power through a 150cm ProFold Octa and raised to the limit of the light stand. It’s basically firing straight onto the side of the car. The second light source is another Energiser 600Ws camera right and head-on to the Mini’s front quarter. It’s also mated to another 150cm ProFold Octa, firing at about ¼ output, and again raised as high as the lightstand would allow.

    Inside the car, on the back seat, is a Godox Viltrox V850 speedlight set to ½ power, and firing through a small 5 in 1 reflector that’s stripped down to the diffusion panel. It’s not really doing a vast amount, but it is increasing the visible detail within the car. You can see the cover of the rear quarter panel, and also black leather seats etc. We had tried using an Godox Witstro at a higher output, but there was just too much light within the car, particularly when taken in context with the concept of the overhead “alien” light. As we could really use the Witrstro elsewhere, we swapped it out for another Godox speedlight.

    Talking of Witstros, I placed two Witstro 360 within the Atom/panopticon. Each were set down opposite each other, and firing upward at 45 degrees towards the centre of the roof. They were both mated totheir dedicated beauty dishes to aid the light spread, and both fired at about 1/8th power output.

    At the centre of the panopticon is supposed to be a metal sphere on a short pedestal, representing its nucleus, except it had been nicked! So we placed another speedlight within the pedestal, with its stofen visible. You can just make it out in the image. The speedlight was set to ½ power.

    Three further speedlights, all at ½ power each, were placed around the outside of the panopticon, at around three feet distance from the structure, and all with stofens fitted, ensuring the light went pretty much everywhere, illuminating the ground etc. Two were placed on those small flexible mini tripod thingies, and the third was propped on a couple of rocks.
    An Witstro 180 was placed behind the car on a low stand to illuminate the bank at the rear of the car. It was firing through a standard reflector at ¼ power.

    Another Witstro 360 was placed far frame left, and was used to even out some of the lighting across the car, but mostly to light the green bank and ground that is frame left, in front of the panopticon. This used a small folding Octa without the diffusion panel at ¼ output.
    The overhead alien light? Well……… that was a bit of post processing with poetic licence :) 

    1/60th sec ISO200 f5
    Before moving onto the next image, I have a confession to make.
    Wayne assisted me with this particular project whilst suffering with flu. No, I mean the real McCoy, with high temperature, hacking cough, shakes and sweating. By the time we finished this shot, we were both soaked to skin and squelched when we walked or sat down. I think I almost killed him :( 

    I’m really, really sorry.

    Mind you, he still came back the next day to finish the shoot, albeit looking very grey.
    Bonus! :D 

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    This particular image was taken outside the studio, as I felt the cobbles would make a nice contrast to the smooth and highly polished car. We had an 600Ws Energiser camera right, firing through a 70×100 softbox at 1/8th power at about head height. It’s barely out of frame and quite close to the car. Hence the low power setting. I also wanted the light across the bonnet to remain a little more subdued than the rest of the car.

    The second light is another 600Ws Energiser camera left, firing at ¼ output through a horizontal 200x40cm stripbox on a boom above head height. (yeah, that's the reflection in the windscreen. I debated taking it out in post, but it kinda looked a little lifeless without it, so it remained).

    A Witstro 360 was placed far left, and at a height of around 70cm, firing at ¼ output through a gridded beauty dish. This was used to illuminate the wheels and foreground.
    Another Witstro 360 was literally barely above the height of the bonnet (hood to those across the puddle), firing through a 80x80 folding softbox. It was aimed across the front of the car, barely skimming across it so as to provide a lift to the grill and number plate to help pick out the detail, without becoming too distracting, or increasing the risk of the lightsource reflecting in the paintwork. The output was set to 1/16th .

    Behind the car, and at head height, we placed three speedlights, all with stofens, and all firing at ¼ power. They were to provide a little highlight to the black roof, but mostly to add a bit of drama to the scene.

    The final touch was the lighting of three smoke pellets behind the car, and hoping the slight breeze would carry it gently over the car.

    1/30th sec ISO200 f13

    This is where I really wish I had BTS images :( 
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2016
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  2. MichaelSewell

    MichaelSewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 1, 2015
    Burnley, UK
    Michael A. Sewell
    I've been down to the studio to have a look through the archive, and found one of the prep images. It was basically to check the expected lighting across the top of the car in preparation of the "Alien" light to be created in post.

    Yes, that's Wayne.

    _D4A7319 copy.jpg
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    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
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