In today’s Slanted Lens lighting tutorial, we are out on location in downtown Los Angeles shooting for Pilot Freight Services. We are shooting a composite image that also includes shooting chrome on location. Our shot is for a print ad that Pilot will run in consumer magazines. We blocked off a lane on Hope Street in Los Angeles that looks into downtown so we could shoot our truck in the right position to match the comp. The image consists of 4 parts that we will be shooting separately including a chrome mirror on the Pilot Freight truck. Shooting chrome is a reflection process. You want to reflect a nice white surface into the chrome and then light that surface. It’s very similar to a mirror and is easier to light with a reflection of a white surface than to shine light onto the chrome surface itself. It’s been a great shoot. I hope our chrome lighting techniques are helpful to you. Keep those cameras rolling and keep on clickn’.
In today’s Slanted Lens lesson, we’re out on location in downtown Los Angeles shooting for Pilot Freight Services. We’re shooting a composite image that’s going to require us to shoot chrome on location. Our shot is for a print ad that Pilot will run in consumer magazines. Let’s get started and see what we can do.
We blocked off a lane on Hope Street in Los Angeles. It looks into downtown, so we can shoot our truck in the right position to match the comp. Here’s the comp that the agency sent over, that will serve as a guide for our final image. The image has 4 main elements: First we have the background, which is the cityscape in the background. We have the driver that’s in the truck. We have the mirror, and then we have the nose of the truck.
The chances of these physical shapes of the 3 foreground elements working in one shot seems almost impossible to me. We definitely are going to have to composite these together. I brought a mirror that we attached to a C-stand to shoot separately. That gave us the freedom to place the mirror anywhere in the frame that we wanted to. This really saved us when we on location because it became the element that we could move around to make everything work.
Here’s our first shot of the mirror. In the chrome, we see reflections of all the surrounding buildings and the street; it’s way too busy. Shooting a chrome mirror outside will create its own challenges. Shooting chrome is as much about what it reflects as it is about what light you aim at it. In this case, we put up a 4×8 foam core that we reflected into the mirror and the chrome frame. The foam core is way too dark and it’s going to need light on it.
We’ll use a Dynalight Strobe Head coming from our camera left to rim the chrome mirror and to brighten the foam core. This gives us the look of sun hitting the chrome frame on the camera left side. The mirror’s been moved slightly so our foam core is not covering the whole mirror. We moved the foam core back into place so it covers the reflection in the mirror and the whole chrome of the mirror. Then we dialed the light up that’s hitting the edge of the mirror and the foam core so it’s a little brighter now, a little cleaner.
The mirror is a little too uniform; it looks too studio-lit. I asked my assistant to hold up a tree branch to see what it would do. When held in the right place, it reflected into the chrome and made it look like things around the area were reflecting into it. We want to break that reflection up just a little bit in the chrome so it doesn’t look so uniform and feels more like it’s in this environment.
As a backup, I shot a frame with just a white background behind the chrome to make it easier for Julene to outline it. Then I traded it out and used a black background. I do this so Julene can outline the image easily. I just want to give her as many options as possible.
Using this same rim light from camera left side, we shot the driver’s reflection in the mirror. He’s sitting in the Pilot truck. We can’t see the nose of the truck, at all. Actually, this truck has no nose. We’re going to have to photograph a different truck with a longer nose to add this element.
We tape our mirror to the existing mirror. This gives us a good image of the driver to strip into the chrome mirror that we just shot. He’s getting that same nice sunlight look from the Dynalight head on the left-hand side.
We now shot several shots of our background with no mirror. We did some in focus and out of focus. We did some HDR to be able to pull the shadows out and just played around a little bit with this background. We’re getting closer to having all the elements now. We just need the nose of the truck. We’re going to have to go to the Pilot facility to shoot a different truck to make this happen.
Here’s the truck nose that we shot. We set up with the strobe off the camera left side to light the side of the truck. It looks great and will fit into the composite very nicely. Here’s our final image after Julene did the compositing and then added a high pass effect and gradient map to the image in Photoshop.
Shooting chrome is a reflection process. You want to reflect a nice, white surface into the chrome, and then light that surface. It’s very similar to a mirror. It’s much easier lit with a reflection of a white surface than light on the chrome surface itself.
I hope you learned a little bit about lighting chrome. We’re going to come back and show you how to do this in the studio in a lesson very soon.
A special shout out thanks to Pilot Freight Services. They’re a great client to allow us to use their images in our lessons. Keep those cameras rolling. Keep on clicking.
Shortly after I got my Canon 5D Mark II, the question became, how do I stabilize this camera? The solution was very simple; the Redrock Micro-Rigs were the best out there at that time and continue to be so now. I got a Captain Stubling rig; had a great follow focus, a great setup that I could use, made it very simple to hand-hold it, made it very fluid.
They came out recently with a new follow focus that I think is really an advantage over the old ones. One, it has hard stops. It is so nice. I can have two stops; I’ve got a beginning and an end. I can set my far point; I can set my near point. For me, that was key. This was a very important piece of equipment that I had to get. I can’t say enough about this Redrock Micro-Focus. It’s very smooth. The gearbox is extremely smooth, a great piece of equipment.
A little shout-out to Redrock Micro; they’ve been there from the very beginning with great camera stabilization and continue to have features that help us move forward as the cameras change. This is a great feature. I’m excited to have it and I use it on my rig every single day that I shoot. Thank you, Redrock Micro.
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