How You Shot It: Dramatic Royal Enfield Motorcycle Portrait
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Today’s image is from 27 year old Adam McKay, who has been shooting for 10 years, professionally for 4. His dream is to become a commercial photographer and cinematographer. See his work on 500px, his website, Facebook and Instagram.
This photo was created out of equal parts opportunity and boredom. My friend Grant and I had been talking about making some dramatic images for the last year, but we were finding that life was always getting in the way.
His brother Adam (the model) suggested we do a shoot with him and his lovely Royal Enfield Motorcycle. We jumped on the opportunity. We had the subject(s) and now we needed a location. Grant suggested we use his grandmother’s old garage. I loved the idea and off we went.
The day of the shoot, I brought all my kit. A couple DSLRS, a ton of lenses, lights, smoke machine. After we cleaned up a little bit, we brought the bike in and started making exposures, checking ambient levels, thinking about lens choices. I realized that what I wanted, but more importantly didn’t have, was a 35mm lens.
This plus my knowing I was going to need to kill some ambient light, led me to the decision to use the “little camera that could” for the entire shoot. The Fuji X100s.
We placed the bike where it is in the final image right from the start. Initially, we were planning on having a light come in through the window and act as backlight for the machine, but found this setup to be much more effective.
The first light we put up was an Alien Bee 800 with beauty dish. I am fairly certain it was diffused. It was on a light stand that brought the light up and into the rafters in front and above the bike. Initially, we found there was too much spill happening on the ground, so we used a 5in1 reflector disk as a flag to cut the light that was hitting the floor.
The light on the bike was good and we knew we had it where we needed it. The problem now was that the background and model were hiding in darkness and due to the higher shutter speed used, the ambient was not lighting him the way it was looking to our eye.
The second light came in the form of the Lumopro 160 speedlight. I believe it was set to about 1/8 power and zoomed in about half way. The light was naked outside the window. I had Grant holding the light at first as we tried to get it in just the right spot that the edge of the light would hit the background as well as his face. Once we had that, we put it on a stand and the lighting was finished.
Coming from film, I love haze. It can be a bit cliche, but I believe used correctly, it adds something wonderful to an image, I also knew with the light blasting through the window outside we were going to get a great lightbeam coming through the window. It was helped a great deal by how many air leaks there were in the garage. Happy little accident. The smoke coming out of his mouth was real, he was actually just smoking the cigar. Albeit a little harder than normal.
A lot of what you see in the image was already in the garage. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The bottle of Sailor Jerry’s in the background was the idea and addition of the model, as was the jacket and the toolbox. The toolbox was found in the basement and actually full of woodworking tools, but it just fit.
Camera: Fuji X100s
Lens: 23mm F2
Shutter Speed: 1000/s
Alien Bee 800
Paul C Buff White Beauty dish with diffusion
Ebay 5in1 reflector (used as a flag)
Not a whole lot. Due to my absolute inefficiency in Photoshop and love of cinematography, I tend to try and get everything right in the camera. Granted, there is always going to be some tweaking needed in some form or another, but for the most part I try my best to not need to open Photoshop. In this case, it was just to remove a logo on a battery and the rest was all done in Lightroom.
In Lightroom, there were the usual contrast/exposure/colour adjustments. As well as local exposure, contrast, clarity adjustments to accentuate certain elements. (i.e. Clarity on the bike, smoke, model). I actually created the light from the headlight with the exposure brush as well as the flame on the tip of the cigar. The dodge and burn look was created with a clarity brush/contrast brush. Overall, I spent under an hour in post. To finish, there was slight noise reduction, sharpening and grain added.
The Final Image
About the “How to Shoot It” Series
This educational series highlights amazing images from our writers as well as our community. The goal is to not only feature inspirational work but to provide valuable education for our photography community. If you would like to submit your work, please click here for more info on writing for SLR Lounge.