Just a brisk run though of one of my latest, and probably the heaviest processed photo I have released. It was a learning curve for me, so I thought I'd share the principles and key points behind a recent cover art photo for a great little cover band I know. The band's newest cover is available to listen online here... give them a like on Facebook too.
So the idea came around for a gritty, seedy looking cover photo for the song '36D' by the Beautiful South, armed with a rough idea of what we wanted Vikki (Still Beautiful cover band music extraordinaire) and I headed off with our two willing volunteers for a night curb crawling Cardiff's less glamourous areas!
It wasn't long before we found our location, all thanks to some great, if questionable local knowledge. I cracked on with the lighting setup while both models prepared their 'look' for the evening. The idea of the shot was to have Vikki (our street worker - to put it politely) standing under some street lighting while Paul (the seedy undertone for the evening) looked on questionably. For this I hoisted a Speedlite up 7 feet above Vikki using a very sturdy light stand, deflected this light down to give a rough spot we'd expect to see from a sodium bulb.
Note - in hindsight a flash gel here would have been perfect, although I think I got away with it in post for this shot!
Second flash gun sat behind a shoot through umbrella right in front of both our subjects, this was for fill lighting and to illuminate the wall.... you'll see why later on in the write up. Both flashes were triggered from a Yonguno RF-603 radio triggers, powers were set manually after a few test shots, the high spot was set to 1/2 power while the fill light was stopped down a little more to 1/4.
With a helpful volunteer holding a reflector dish under Vikki to get some of that light back up onto her and not make her look blown out by the high light above her. Another note here - light reflectors are difficult to pack away!
After a few shots and some repositioning I was happy that I got the scene I wanted... back to the house to warm up and start some post.
I began by adding in the text for both the '36D' and 'Still Beautiful' to the wall, stretched and skewed this to match the distortion and aspect of the background. The text layers were duplicated, one layer was blurred and the other had a mask added which comprised of a contrasted copy of the background image, (this allowed the text to look as if the bricks and cement had take up the paint differently.)
A last couple of layers were added which duplicated the background, I laid these over the top of the text to add some lighting effects to the text, changing the blending mode here to get the lighting effect on the text here that I wanted.
Once I was happy that I had the general composition in Photoshop, with all the key elements in the right place and text looking geometrically believable, I imported this back into Lightroom and went to work on the final 'look' of the shot.
The final output...