Xtreme Teams – Digital Team Composites

Hi Gang,

We started shooting high school football again today and I wanted to share with you some of our Xtreme Team (digital team composites) we created last year – I will post an update of some of the cool stuff we are doing this year in a couple weeks. If you aren’t familiar with them, it is an excellent alternative to the traditional team or group shot. We photograph everyone individually on the green screen background and assemble the group digitally. Anyone that has done any large group photography understands the challenges of this type of photography. Here are some of my thoughts after doing over 75+ digital composites during last year.

Pros

1. It’s a real WOW product and will separate you from your competition, allowing you to book a lot more teams.

2. In the past when photographing 50 or 60 football players with 20+ cheerleaders it would become quite a production and would take some time to get everyone properly posed and photographed. Look at the college team below, with players, cheerleaders and coaches well over 125 people. Trying to orchestrate that as a traditionally photograph was a real pain in the backside – this whole shoot including each players individual pose was done in about 1 hour.

Also, the coaches love it because they are usually at the front of the line and after their 30 seconds in front of the camera they are done.

3. No risers. In the past when photographing groups this large, you typically working on the football field and have to get there 1 1/2 to 2 hours before the shoot just to set up the risers, lights etc.. No risers required (my back really appreciate this).

4. We now get to shoot in the gym where – where the AC is. Did I mention we now get to shoot in the AC

5. No more bad lighting situations. Since most of the coaches typically want to do the team shot taken immediately after school gets out and before practice starts, you find yourself doing most between 2pm to 3pm in the afternoon. Not the ideal time for best lighting conditions. We even did a couple in the gym with it pouring down rain outside… no more rescheduled shoots.

6. No more missing kids or kids who ended up getting cut in the team picture. Since most of the football shots are taken in August to meet the program deadline… many of the schools have not made final cuts. Most coaches do not want kids in the team shot that end up getting cut from the team. Although everybody is photographed individually for the program, the composite isn’t assembled until the coach makes his final cuts.

7. It also makes it very easy to create the specialty groups. For example, a group shot of all seniors, or all linebackers etc.…

Cons

1. If you are doing any type of serious volume, you could potentially get backed up in production.

2. Most of these jobs are shot on green screen to make the production as easy as possible. If the green screen is not lit properly and it becomes a manual process to extract each one of the players in Photoshop you are going to see a lot of sleepless nights.
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The graphics used to create these composites came from our friends over at Spotlight Photographics.

Here’s a couple sample team composites. What are your thoughts? Leave your feedback below, I love to hear what you think of these new digital team composites.

 

Xtreme Team -Digital Team Compsoite

 

Xtreme Team -Digital Team Compsoite

Butterfly Lighting Pattern

Hi guys,

Hope everyone is having a good day. I just finished editing this image for a new training video I am working on about Mastering Studio Lighting. This shot was taken during a set-up where I was demonstrating a butterfly lighting pattern.

Butterfly lighting is frequently used in creating fashion and glamour head shots. This style of lighting is very glamourous and has the effect of eliminating any shadows or wrinkles or lines in the face.

The light source comes from directly above the camera and is in front of the subject. Butterfly lighting is so named due to the butterfly shaped shadow under the nose.

Steps for achieving the perfect Butterfly Lighting pattern

1. Position light approx 5 ft. in from of the subject and directly above the face so the shadow is under the nose. The shadow should not touch the lip.

2. Adjust the light to proper height by moving it up or down watching the catchlights in the eyes. When the light is in the proper position, your catchlight should be at 12 o’clock.

3. Position reflector about waist level below the subject to help fill in the shadows under her chin caused from the overhead light..

Technical Stuff:

Main light: f9.0
Background light: f8
Edge lights: f5.6
Fill: Silver reflector
Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm
1/100 sec @ f9
ISO 100

Tip: The main light metered at f11.3, by exposing at f9 she was technically slightly overexposed.

Let me know if you have any questions.

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The Set-Up
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Setting Goals for 2014

I love this time of year.  I will typically spend the week between Christmas and New Years every reflecting on last year and setting goals for the upcoming year. I find this really clears my mind and gets me ready for the new year.

Goals 2014
I was excited to find this video from the legendary Zig Ziglar on goal setting. Zig was a sales mans best motivator. I spent endless hours listening to his tapes while making sales calls in my territory right out of college. Right now I’m thinking about whats ahead for 2014 and what the possibilities are.
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Here’s a couple good Zig quotes on goal setting.

“If you want to reach a goal. You must see the reaching in your own mind before you actually arrive at your goal.”

“A goal properly set is halfway reached”

What do you want to accomplish in 2014? Do you have written down goals for 2014?

Body Evolution – Model Before and After

How much retouching is to much? Here’s what the guys  over at Global Democracy have to say about it. What are your thoughts?

We all now know that seeing thousands of “perfect” body types in the mass media is having negative affects on young girls and more. Airbrushing as a practice should be discouraged when it transforms otherwise permanent features on models. A “mandatory disclaimer” to state that a model has had her physical body manipulated on a computer is a very simple step in the right direction to addressing the harm that we’re causing.

 

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Have we gone to far? What are your thoughts?

 

Lighting Black On Black

This is a shot I took a couple months ago for a training video I was shooting. I thought shooting the black dress on the black background would have a lot of impact. The key when shooting a black object on a black background is to create separation from the background. The best way to create separation from the background is creating highlights on the black dress. This was accomplished by placing two edge lights behind the model at a 45 degree angle. See lighting diagram below.

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Main light – 4′ x 6′ softbox
Fill – 4′ x 6′ silver reflector
Edge lights – 1′ x 4′ soft box

Black_on_black_diagram2

Window Light Photography

This  shot was taken during a seminar at my studio a last month ago with Rick Ferro.  It was raining outside and we had promise as part of the class to do some available light shooting. So we placed the subject next to the window in the lobby. 

Window light is one of the most beautiful (and cheapest) types of light a photographer can use. 
 
Where do you think soft boxes came from? Photographers trying emulate this beautiful quality of light in the studio. The easiest way to understand window light is to think of the windows as a very fixed soft box.  Therefore, the size of the window will affect the quality of light just like the size of the soft box in the studio will affect the quality of light on the subject. The larger the window, the softer the light. 
 
The biggest difference between window light and a soft box is in the studio you can move the soft box in relation to the subject to achieve the quality of light and the lighting pattern you want. When working with window light you will have to move the subject in relation to the window.  For the image below, we positioned the subject to achieve a short lighting pattern on her face and  used a  silver reflector as the fill (see set shot). 

 

I love shooting wide open whenever possible and shot this one with my Canon 85mm set at f2. This allowed the limited depth of field and takes the viewers attention away from the rather blah background. 

Technical Stuff:
Main light: Window
Fill: Silver reflector
Canon 5D Mark II
Lens: Canon 85mm
1/500 sec @ f1.2
ISO 400

 

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The set-up.

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My New Toy – Photogenic Varibeam

I love the look of the old style Hollywood glamour photographers from the 50’s and love the lights they used. Yesterday I just found and purchased an old Photogenic – Varibeam Fresnel 1000 watt light to add to my collection of lights. It is great for getting the lighting used in the 40s and 50s Glamour shots. This particular unit has control to make a spot or flood on the unit. Then with the special Projection lens attachment you can do precise focused spots of light in beams hence ” Varibeam”. It is also great prop for retro Hollywood look. Weighing in at over 50lbs., it’s will not be part of our on-location arsenal.

Although, it’s not really about the equipment – it’s about how you use it. Painting with Light…. placing light where you want it, not blasting with a 4×6 softbox. Not that’s there is anything wrong with that, this style of lighting will separate you from the rest of the photographers.

I will be posting on this topic some more in the upcoming weeks. Here’s a shot taken using this style of lighting. By the way… it’s great for Black & Whites – just like the Hollywood Glamour of the past.

Hollywood Glamour

Lighting Black on Black

This is a shot I took a couple week ago for a training video I was shooting for StudioStyles. I thought shooting the black dress on the black background would have a lot of impact. The key when shooting a black object on a black background is to create separation from the background. The best way to create separation from the background is creating highlights on the black dress. This was accomplished by placing two edge lights behind the model at a 45 degree angle. See lighting diagram below.

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Main light – 4′ x 6′ softbox
Fill – 4′ x 6′ silver reflector
Edge lights – 1′ x 4′ soft box
 

Black on black diagram2

Studio Lighting with Photogenic Mini-Spots

This set-up was done using 5 tungsten continuous light sources. The lights used for this set up are Photogenic Mini-spots. These lights are a lot of fun to work with, and provide a will you can only achieve with his style of lighting. We use these lights a lot for Hollywood style glamour and when doing character studies.

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A couple things to consider when using tungsten continuous lights are:

1. Make sure you get lights that have focusing capability.

2. It it is also important to be able to control the output of the lights. For this particular light we had to purchase third party Rio stats
to be able to control the output

3. You will also want to lights that can accept barn doors. This is critical for light control.

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