Studio City Tattoo Project (Part 2)

As I mentioned in my previous post about this subject matter - Studio City Tattoo Project (Part 1) - I had already knocked out the individual shots of the artists and now I am left with making a photograph (well, two to be exact) of the owner of Studio City Tattoo, Clay Clement.  Clay is not only a really great guy but he is also an author of a highly received and award-winning children's book.  So going in, I knew we were going to make an image for the Studio City Tattoo website as well as a publicity photo for his PR team to use in promoting the book to magazines like People and US Weekly.  Simple right?  Well, nothing is really ever that simple.  We had 30-40 minutes of his time and he was only available to shoot at the most unflattering time of day at 11:30am.  We had our work cut out for us but fortunately I was able to be somewhat creative in the process of where we shoot and the overall look.

Sunny days in LA don't always provide great light.

As you can see in the above image, the sun was really bright on Ventura Boulevard at 10:30am.  We arrive around 10:15am to start setting up so that when Clay was ready at 11:30am we could get him in and out with no other delays.  I knew it would take about an hour to set up and we used every bit of that time to get things ready.  For this shoot (See Images Below), I knew battling the sun would be our biggest problem so I brought out three lights, a 10" high performance reflector, a beauty dish and an 86" parabolic umbrella.  I needed as much power and reflectivity to overpower the hot, bright sun.   I needed to work with two Elinchrom Ranger packs and one Elinchrom Quadra pack for this Portrait/Lifestyle photography session.  The other essential element in this shoot was to make certain I would be able to get the settings I needed.  I wanted to get f8 - f11 and a shutter speed of 1/250.  For that the lights were still not enough so I needed to bring my Variable 2-8 stop ND Filter.  That way, I can specifically dial in the exact setting for the shots and the changing sunlight.  While most days in LA are sunny with no clouds, this particular day posed some changing elements because of the changing light with some small, wispy clouds overhead.  The changing light meant that my Variable ND filter would be the best tool in my arsenal for this shoot. HERE IS THE LIGHTING SET UP 
Look at all the details going into this shoot under the noon day sun.

Look at all the details going into this shoot under the noon day sun.

More details to deal with the only time of day I could photograph Clay Clement of Studio City Tattoo

More details to deal with the only time of day I could photograph Clay Clement of Studio City Tattoo

Taking off the diffuser realizing I needed more light

Taking off the diffuser realizing I needed more light

Lighting the van proved to be the hardest element to the day considering the brightness of the sun and time of day we had to work with Clay.

Lighting the van proved to be the hardest element to the day considering the brightness of the sun and time of day we had to work with Clay.

Lighting Set Up - Specifics The Tree - We started with the shot of Clay as the owner of the Tattoo shop.  There is this great prop of a decayed, burned skeleton in a rusty cage.  This is a perfect prop of the "Pirate" themed tattoo shop.  In lighting this set up I wanted to make sure each element had it's own light since it was so bright outside.  There was a perfect parking space in front of the shop where I had Clay park his van.  Just to camera left is a nice tree that added some green and color to the shot.  So, it needed it's own light.  I put the Quadra here with the 10" High Performance Reflector at full power.  I didn't want to blow out the tree but just to add some color to the shot.  Adding a "kiss" of light to the tree was something I wanted to do since we would see other trees in the distance/background and it would help to brighten the image since a lot of the other elements are dark (the van, Clay's clothing and the black, burned out skeleton). The Van - Since the van is the largest element in the photo shoot I needed something big and bright to bring out the details on the van without giving me a tremendous amount of reflective highlights.  So I went with a Paul C. Buff 86" Parabolic Umbrella with the silver interior.  I positioned the light about 6 feet away from the van and raised it as high as my C-Stand and boom arm would go.  And, last, I angled the light down to a 45 degree angle so I could get as much coverage of the van and ground area around it.  Here I used an Elinchrom Ranger pack at full (1100 w/s) power. The Subject - Setting up the light for Clay was probably the easiest of the set ups.  I used a 27" Elinchrom BD with no diffusion sock and a silver deflector as to match the specular highlights with the BD to all the other modifiers used.  Also, Clay was being side lit by the sun as it was moving East to West.  The light on Clay was specifically placed to light his face.  I wasn't worried about lighting his legs because I knew the spill from the Parabolic Umbrella and ambient light would do enough.  The purpose here is to light his face and make a portrait with this photography session.  I also used a Ranger pack but only needed to use it at a little more than half power.  Below is the final image chosen from the shoot.  I did do a little work in Photoshop to darken the sky and make it look more ominous.  I also used a couple of plug-ins from Nik Software and Totally Rad to give the image it's final look.

Final Lifestyle/Portrait Photograph of Clay Clement

PUBLICITY PHOTO For this image, I already had the lighting in place.  So we changed out the skeleton for Clay's "Pirate Santa" children's book.  I then had to just make some minor adjustments in camera to make this image more bright, warm and friendly.  I adjusted my shutter to allow a little more light into the image.  Once again, I finished the image with a couple of plug-ins from Nik Software and Totally Rad.  Once finished, I received approval from Clay and his team and sent the publicity photo off to them for their use.  I know these are going out to People and US Weekly magazines but I just don't know their timetable.  Believe me, when it happens I will let you know.

The final publicity photo for Clay Clement and his book "Pirate Santa."

SH  

Like what you see? Why not share it?

Share your thoughts on this post.