We have for some time now been trying to organise a shoot for a company, that specialises in transforming your everyday garden into a luxury living space. They are based down on the south coast nr Bournemouth and the shoot involved taking the garden at dusk with models etc etc.
We had had to reschedule the date three times due to the wonderful summer we are having here. Not because we can’t take pics in the rain but because the garden looked much better with moody fire torches and the like and we were worried about our models getting wet and grumpy!
Finally, everything came together weather and diary wise and we were able to complete the shoot a couple of weeks ago.
We arrived early to make sure that we could set up the cameras, lights and ‘props’ in the appropriate positions. The Art Director was keen that we didn’t overkill on the lights as the shot was due to be turned into an advert that was meant to show actual work not a stage managed scene that could have come from Hollywood! However, lighting was going to be tricky for several reasons. As any photographer knows only too well, controlling light is crucial. Here though, we had several different light sources all acting together to create a ‘mood’ that we needed to capture in one shot. Firstly, we knew we had to light the BBQ lodge at the bottom of the garden to make it ‘pop’ and be easily identifiable. Secondly we had various flames burning throughout the scene that needed to be visible and also to help with the mood. Thirdly, the newly created pond and hot-tub also had their own lighting and finally we had the ambient light throughout the whole of the rest of the garden!
Due to these conflicting light sources we needed to multi expose the shot. I decided that by taking three bracketed exposures, normal, stopped down one and then stopped down two, I could create the image better in photoshop.
We set up the garden with flames and a couple of other props to make the place look a little more ‘homely’ and our biggest issue was a garage building, jutting into the right of our shot that unfortunately dominated the whole scene as it was painted a brilliant white. We ‘softened’ the hard edge of this by putting a natural rush screen in front of it however, it was obvious further work would be needed in post.
As the evening progressed and we chatted, I knew we would have about 20mins shooting time in the gathering dusk so just before the light was perfect we asked our brave model, Faye, to climb into the hot-tub! As it turned out, she was warmer in there than we were outside in the gloom. Not only did the shot require multi exposure, for quality purposes, it needed to be at low iso and high aperture which in turn meant long exposures. This required the models to stand (or sit) stock still for several seconds of exposure. It was also clear that due to the large focal range of the shot that even at f18/20 the exposure needed to be blended with two focal points in post. What this all meant was that we needed to grab six exposures in perfect light including two different focal points.
Despite all this tom-foolery, we managed to grab the shots we needed and headed back home and despite road closures, we made it back by half past midnight! It was then to the office to start the exercise of blending and manipulation. Below are the finished shot and a ‘base’ image we worked from. You will see how we have got rid of the building on the left pretty much altogether, enhanced the flames standing on the two posts and foreground and lost some distracting white pillars from the fence back right.
A final ‘warm’ filter was passed over the image to give the whole thing a final glow.