Project 52

Assignment 41 - An Audio Experience Like No Other

This week's assignment was to create an image of an audio product to go with the client's tag line of "an experience like no other."  I spent a lot of time on last week's image, so I was basically starting from scratch with this one.  Doug just purchased a used jukebox for the bar he's building in our basement, so that was an option, but given its size, I needed to be able to do the shot in our garage, where it is currently located, or our driveway.  That didn't sound terribly exciting.  I had also been thinking about a product shot of some headphones.  I just bought a pair of bluetooth headphones to use at the gym, so I brainstormed a couple ideas using those.  But nothing was grabbing me.  

I then had an idea of a person wearing headphones, dreaming that they were a rock star.  I could find a person to wear headphones, but where does one find a rock star on short notice?  Fortunately, the woman who had modeled for my eight week portrait class last year is in a band, Dream Eternal Bliss (check out their new album on iTunes).  I had taken some pictures of the band and had been in touch with the band leader recently, because they used one of my images in their CD artwork.  I reached out to him and within eight hours, I was in touch with a guitar player, Bruce Sokolovic.  One of Bruce's bands had a gig in my town on Saturday night, so we agreed to meet in my studio before his show. 

Earlier in the day, I got my template set up in Photoshop.  I wanted the portrait with the headphones in the lower left corner of the image.  I looked for a portrait that I had taken in the past to use as a stand in.  I then had to learn how to create "conversation bubbles" in Photoshop.  They had to be transparent so I could insert the rock star image into the large bubble. I used another photo to test the bubble concept and then created the various masks I'd need to ensure everything fell into place.

Before Bruce arrived, I tested the lighting for two scenarios.  The first was a simple portrait set up with even lighting for the image wearing headphones.  I set up a softbox for the main light at a 45° angle to camera left and a white foam core board 90° to camera right.  I also added two lights shining on a white background to ensure the portrait shot would blend in with the white background of the Photoshop file.

I also worked on the "rock star lighting" in advance.  I wanted colored lights coming from the back like you would see on stage during a concert.  I put a blue gel on one light and a red gel on another and aimed them where Bruce would be standing.  I put a small round softbox high above the scene from the front right to give some hard light from the front.  The test shots looked good, but not really a concert atmosphere.  So I busted out my smoke machine - for the second assignment in a row - and took the necessary precautions to ensure the smoke alarm didn't go off again.  The smoke combined with the colored lights gave the perfect look.  So I opened the windows and rolled up the backdrop to clear the smoke out of the studio before Bruce arrived. 

Bruce showed up with two guitars, a t-shirt and leather jacket, tattoos, and long hair.  The perfect rock star.  This was going to be fun.  I got the camera ready and turned the strobes on while he got his guitars out.  We went with the headphone portrait first, because once the smoke machine was fired up, it made shooting anything afterward close to impossible. 

I then moved the lights into position for the rock scene.  Once Bruce got into position, I realized his black t-shirt and black leather jacket were blending into the background.  I repurposed the light with the softbox to give some side lighting to his jacket and give a bit of separation from the background.  We did some test shots before starting the smoke machine.  I learned from Bruce that a Haze machine puts a nice hanging fog in the air, whereas a smoke machine was a bit more billowy and tougher to keep in place.  Not sure I'll be running out and buying a Haze machine, but it's good to know!   Here are a few from "pre-smoke machine."

Once we were ready, I added some smoke to the scene and took a bunch of photos.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

I prefer the images with the smoke - I think the give a more concert-like feel

I prefer the images with the smoke - I think the give a more concert-like feel

In addition to working in a band, Bruce reviews guitars for musicplayers.com.  He had a guitar he was reviewing with him, so he asked if I wouldn't mind shooting a few images of the guitar to use with his on-line review.  Twelve months ago this exercise would've taken me three hours, but with all the practice I've had in this 52 week project shooting objects with different surfaces, I knew exactly what to do.  I grabbed one of my softboxes, set it up to the side of the guitar and shot away.  I shot it both on a white and black background.  After Bruce left, I realized I probably should've put a white card to the right of the guitar on black and a light on the background, but it looks okay.  The product shots are below:

P52 Assignment 41-187-Edit.jpg

The next day, I narrowed down all the images from the portraits and the rock star scene and started to play with them in Photoshop.  Here are two of the finalists:

Next week's assignment is architectural photography.  There aren't any particularly stunning buildings around, so I am considering bringing my camera and tripod with me to work one day next week and capturing a building in New York!