Here’s a look at a shoot I did few weeks back, when I was in the final stages of wrapping up the writing for my Photoshop CS4 Down & Dirty Tricks Book. I needed a shot of a football player for one of the techniques, and so I did an in-studio shoot with a standout on the local high school team, Middle Linebacker Blake Johnson (shown above.).
I wanted a real dramatic look for the lighting, so I shot Blake on a black background, and really tried to control the spill of the lights by using (1) metal Grids that snap right into the reflector on the front of the strobe, and (2) three large black flags (which are essentially just 24″x36″ rectangles of black fabric that block the spread of the light).
For most of the shoot, I used three lights. For the shot at the top of this page, the main light, an Elinchrom RX-600 Strobe (shown above and marked as “A”) was on a boom stand, in front of him, and was placed up high, directly in front of him and angled down at him at a 45° angle. I wanted a quick drop off of the light, so we placed a 24×36″ black flag up near the bottom of the light, so it would cut off the light hitting below his chest (you can see that in the photo above).
Then we placed two Elinchrom RX-600 Strobes behind him (one on either side of him. They are marked “B” in the photo you see above) using reflectors with Grids attached (see below—photo courtesy of Elinchrom) to light the sides of his face from behind with really bright edge light. Although the lights are turned off in the production shot above (taken by Brad Moore), they were turned on for the shot at the top of the page. To keep the light from the flash from creating lens flare back into my lens, Brad put up a black flag a few feet in front of the strobes.
Also, since we weren’t trying to soften the light; we didn’t use soft boxes—just bare bulb flashes with reflectors. The strobe in the front was powered down as low as we could get it, and the two lights in the back were at 3/4 power.
The shot below was taken using just two lights: one single strobe behind him to create a rim light, but we lowered the main light in front until it was down low aiming up at him to make him look more menacing (By the way: despite how he looks in the photo below, Blake was a really great kid; very polite, very patient, very friendly—though I wouldn’t want to stand across a scrimmage line from him).
I asked Blake to bring a white jersey, because I wanted to try a high-key look for something rough like a football player, and the final image is below. I like it because it’s not what you’d expect. I also like that the jersey was his real jersey from the season, and that it had seen more than one offensive lineman lying on the field looking up wondering what hit him. I set the type in the style of Nike Football posters. (Note: The lighting set-up was exactly the same as in the top shot; one light in front; up high, no softbox, and two edge lights behind him on either side, also bare with a reflector and grid. All we changed was the background).
One More Thing: I did post-process the living daylights out of these images, using Lightroom, then over to Photoshop CS4. Hey, whatdaya expect? ;-)
Anyway, now when my Down & Dirty Tricks book comes out, you’ll instantly recognize Blake, and better yet—you’ll know how the shots were taken.