In my first year of studying graphic design a lecturer taught me the value of putting a penguin on a tropical beach – the value of making a product stand out instead of blending in with its competitors. With this as well as my own view of the light side of Metal in mind, the band and I decided to do something fun, colourful and almost comical. I asked the band to assemble as many colourful inflatables and bathtub type props as possible, and to locate a hot tub.
On the day of the shoot, I managed to convince my (forever patient) girlfriend and another photographer (Tyler Dolan) to assist me. When we arrived at the location we were a bit worried about the tiny space we had to shoot in – instead of a hot tub it turned out to be a large bath in a very narrow room. Space limitations can break a shoot – apart from physical limitations, it can be really impossible to find space for light stands and bigger light modifiers. We also found out that the room was on the second floor, so introducing artificial light from outside would be difficult, but we managed by really pushing the best light stand as high as it would go and then putting it on some bricks. Next task was getting the guys into the bath to which there was a myriad of objections. Half of my job is convincing people that I know what I’m doing. After a couple of “but homo eroticism is cool” and “Stop being so metal”s I got almost everyone in the bathtub, and the ones who refused just perched on the side.
Attention to detail is key, so we churned up the foam and put some on the walls to hint raucousness. After a bit of rearranging and shouting to get everyone’s attention I asked Sarah (the girlfriend) to start blowing bubbles and Tyler to hold a small silver reflective umbrella above and behind my left shoulder so that the 430EX flash on my camera would bounce off it and onto the band from a (roughly) 45° angle. The 430EX 2 flash attached to the light stand on bricks coming through the window had a 60cm softbox attached as a light modifier, and served to provide a type of rim light on the foam and on the band members. I believe that every photographer has one thing which they focus on with an almost unreasonable obsession, and mine is lighting. In particular, balancing flash and ambient light. Explaining that here would be silly. Just hop on over to Strobist.blogspot.com and go through their ‘Lighting 101’ pages.
After shooting the group shot, I got into the tub for individual portraits which I lit with the same 430 EX 2 shot through a beauty dish and with the softbox outside filling in some of the shadowy areas. In terms of digital manipulation, the most significant changes I made was the colour of the wall. The tiles were beige, and with the extremely reflective surface of the walls, the entire image was slightly monotone, which is not what we had set out to create. So with layer masks I changed the wall colour to yellow’s primary colour of blue. Then I used curves with another layer mask to slowly bring out certain highlights.