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 Jeep

The Jeep
The Jeep

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Quick Shoot - When "Classic" Was Lived (Part 2)

The Corvette Cafe at the National Corvette Museum retains a nostalgic flavor which returns one to the glory days of the 50's diner experience. When the opportunity presented itself to do a model shoot inside this iconic looking location, there was nothing else I could do but accept.


As part two of the Quick Shoot post lets take a look at how we pulled off an exciting throw back photo shoot staged inside this classic looking venue.


One of the prevailing visual elements inside the diner is all the chrome that sparkles like crystal when light falls across the fixtures. As part of the shoot, I wanted to capture this look, but I also wanted to take advantage of the reflective properties one can find inside the cafe. I decided to use 4 lights. One main light with a 20 x 30 softbox used mostly as fill light on our model, again the lovely Katie. I used two gelled lights, one with a red filter and one with a blue filter. These gelled lights were primarily used as background lights to bring interest and color to the dark corner areas. The blue light provided a crisp clean look and was used in some of the shots to enhance the overall contrast against the red background light and to also create some nice reflections off the chrome fixtures. I used a fourth light simply set way in the back and pointed straight up as a bounce light against the lighter color of the ceiling. This provided a brighter ambient light to the overall image.



Again we only had 30 minutes to complete our shoot so we had to work fast. The first setup was to use one of the corner free standing tables and two high chairs. The blue gelled light was placed outside just off the corner of the cafe and pointed through a window so its light would fall across the wall. The red gelled light was placed in the opposite position inside and pointed to illuminate the other side of the wall. My main light with the softbox was positioned out in front at a slight angle and used to fill in the light on our model. The forth light simply bounced straight up from behind. A few adjustments here and there to get the gelled lights to fill in correctly and we made a good number of simple but interesting shots from this corner.

Next we stepped into one of the isles and took advantage of the outside ambient light. We still required a main light as a fill light, but we managed a few 50's biker girl shots. I loved the way the black and white checkered floor created a classic look in these shots. The Black and White version of the images worked great with this setup.



About midway through our shoot we moved over to the counter where a row of chrome high chairs nudged against the shiny front surface of the counter. The background appeared a bit dark so I moved the red gelled light over to the far corner and angled it upward about 45 degrees to create a unique red fill light in a dark area. The blue gelled light was pointed toward the model from the back of the room. This effectively filled the room with a cheerful neon blue cast. The main light with the softbox was placed about 10 feet or so to one side and pointed at Katie and the fourth ambient light simply bounced straight up from a far corner again to provide a little exptra ambient light.

As always, some experimentation was required to get the proper adjustment levels on each light some no one light overwhelmed the composition. The key to good lighting is to make it look natural. These photos turned out rather exciting with the vibration of blue and red colors contrasting with each other, yet it look natural as though a series of neon signs were glowing in the background. We kept the Biker look for a few shots and then had Katie change into her light blue flower dress. When combined with the white lacy hat, her wonderful look was classic 50's. These turned out to be some of the best shots of the day.



Again I tried eye level, mid-level, and ground level shots along with standing on a chair to obtain a high vantage point to look down. What I wanted to capture was a wide-angle skewed look using the checkered floor as a vanishing point that lead toward to main subject.

Before we knew it, our 30 minutes was over and we had to start breaking it down so the good folks who work at the cafe could go home. We had a great time in the short amount of time we were given and much thanks goes to the NCM staff and the Corvette Cafe staff for allowing us to do this shoot. Thanks also to Bill for inspiring the idea and to Katie our model for being a such a good sport. Her genuine and snappy smile really enhanced the finished photos.


The Quick Shoot process I discovered is a great way to obtain spontaneous fresh looks with a portrait model. Being placed into this kind of scenario forces one to work rapidly to set up simple compositions that will retain a nostalgic feel just as though one had simply stepped back in time and captured someone as they might have been.

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