Beyond The Campfire was created to encourage readers to explore the great outdoors and to look at it more closely. Get out and take a hike, go fishing or canoeing, or simply stretch out on a blanket under a summer sky...and take your camera along. We'll talk about combining outdoor activities with photography. We'll look at everything from improving your understanding of the basics to more advanced techniques including things like how to see photographically and capturing the light. We'll explore the night sky, location shoots, using off camera speedlights along with nature and landscape. Grab your camera...strap on your hiking boots...and join me. I think you will enjoy the adventure.

The Pilot

The Pilot
The Pilot

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Quick Shoot - When "Classic" Was Lived (Part 1)

Growing up in the 1950's and 60's created visual snapshots of life adventures from nostalgic events, places, and iconic moments where even today they retain a special place within our memories. Seems like today many photographers are shifting their focus more and more to reproduce images reflective of those years as well as the 1930's and 40's. All for good reason; they were a time when the term Classic was lived.


For the past year and a half or so I've been fortunate to work part time at the National Corvette Museum (NCM), so I am surrounded by restored reminders from those bygone days. One section of the museum is dedicated to Nostalgia where displays are set in period times with the classic cars of those days being the emphasis of the exhibit, and a throw back attempt to recapture those distantly familiar hot rod or car scenes those of us who lived during those times so fondly remember. Also, on the south end of the museum is the Corvette Cafe where one can return to the simplistic days of the old style diner with chrome counters and bold colors to order a good hamburger. It retains the sights and sounds and aromas that at once take us back to those good old vintage days.

When a photographer friend of mine inquired about the possible use of the cafe as a setting for a 1950's model shoot, I jumped at the opportunity to obtain permission to do so. Permission was granted but with some restrictions; we'd have about 30 minutes to do the shoot. That alone makes it difficult as you really do not have much time to experiment, so you gotta know ahead of time what you want to accomplish...thus the idea of the Quick Shoot comes into play.

Actually what happened is that we were granted permission to do two shoots on two separate days; one in
the cafe and one in the Nostalgia section of the NCM. The first shoot was to be in the Nostalgia section during after hours and again we would have about 30 minutes to complete the shoot. A few days before I took a few test shots to get an idea of the angles and how the ambient light worked. This helped to formulate how to position the model well before hand so we could concentrate on shooting and less on setting up the shot.

Our model, the lovely Katie, arrived about 25 minutes before the museum closed and we quickly moved to the Nostalgia section where several classic 1950's era Corvettes were on display in front of a Toy Store and barber shop and in another section, a vintage Mobil Gas station. Lights were set, I used three for the toy store / barber shop shoot and 4 for the Mobil Gas Station shoot.

At the Toy Store / Barber Shop location, one light was set as a backlight and pointed toward the barber shop from the side to provide some extra light on a dark area. Another light was set toward the back in a dark area and pointed toward the model. On it was placed a red gel to provide a splash of color and hint of outline. This effect gave the shot that evening look being set aglow by neon lights. The main light was set in front with a 20 x 30 softbox. I set the red gel backlight on medium power.  My main light with a soft box was set at about 1/2 power, and the third background fill light was set to near full power as it was to broadcast its light across a broad area.


I wanted the shoot to resemble a cross between a PinUp shoot and a Nostalgic shoot with the model performing simple pinup like poses along with the everyday things a 50's era girl might do.


The problem was the angles because there was only a narrow path through which to frame and shoot. I tried eye level, mid level, and ground level looks. I also repositioned the lights to obtain the maximum effect from the gelled backlight. I wanted the lighting to become a subtle part of the story where key accents were used to emphasize the situation. With only 30 minutes or so to shoot, we had to work fast and take chances.

The Mobil Gas Station setting provided a wider array of lighting challenges because not only did I have to light the model, I also needed to light the garage area, the Mobil Pegasus sign, and also provide some red gel light to enhance that night time neon sign look.



Over all in spite of having to work quickly, the effect turned out quite well I believe. Next up will be the Classic 50's Diner shoot...looking forward to it.

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