Setup Notes on the December Portraits (Part 1 of 3)

A few people have asked me how I pulled off a number of shots from my December Portrait series. It's my birthday today and therefore I'm in a good mood and have decided to write down some quick notes on each one and perhaps a small 'before' shot lest I forget the details. I'll do 10 a day over the next three days. Let's get started!

01: Birth

Subjects acting out the birth in the back of their SUV in a parking garage. Megan had the baby at a hospital a few days later, by the way, and both are healthy. 3 speedlights. One coming in the sunroof  through a diffuser to mimic the cars interior dome lighting. One on the platform camera right shooting through a crumpled up diffusion panel from a softlighter and one light with an umbrella to the right of James and a reflector to the left just out of shot. In the end I made a composite of the best shot of each of them.


02: Horror

Basement of my sister's house in Arlington, VA. Friends daughters as the victims, my very accommodating brother-in-law with soot on his face. One speedlight bounced off the wall/ceiling corner camera right  as I recall.


03: Bookin'

Gary shot in the studio. Two strobes, one softbox above and in front as well as a second umbrellaed strobe behind the camera at low power to fill in the shadows a little bit. Grain and trees/sunset were separate shots taken in Prospect Park earlier in the day.


04: Theft

Composite of 3 separate shots. One of Heather and the pan shot with one hard strobe with grid and a reflector to fill.  Another of Derek climbing in the window with softboxed strobe out on the fire escape and same gridded strobe indoors. Final shot of statue on podium with overhead gridded spot.


05: Mirror

An attempt to play off a painting I saw at the Met. Main shot  of girl and mirror was shot with a 48" octabox camera right facing her back. I then shot the frame in the adjacent room with the same setup shooting through the door to give enough light. Two shots composited.


06: Party

Nothing fancy on this one. Friend's apartment for dinner and that's what it looked like. Lindsay put on a party dress, Chris handed her a drink. Lit with a speedlight bounced off the ceiling camera left.


07: Dance

Two shot composite of course. Went to Eran's house and shot the 7' tall room from 3.5' up. Two speedlights in 16" softboxes a couple feet off the floor aiming at the ceiling. Went back to my place and shot Eran dancing with the same lighting setup coming from above. Marmo was stuck to the ceiling with glue, just kidding.


08: Capcom

I wanted to recreate a scene from the Apollo era. Shot Chris on black background with overhead softbox and an umbrella on either side to give him some rim lighting. Shot smoking cigarette separately and brought it in in post. Headset comped in from archival photograph. Background desks and ceiling build from scratch in Photoshop.



Brinkworth and I met up at the lab and shot her with a taped up scalpel and a little fake blood. One speedlight with diffuser panel held up camera right while I was  taking the pictures. Later comped in found public domain shot of dissected cadaver arm.


10: Bounce

Shot Cisco on the roof jumping off of a chair. Then brought up a couple of yoga balls which we then moved around and shot in different locations. Composited and colored the balls in post. Added Cisco in bouncing about.