An incredibly talented event designer and friend, Niki Boles, contacted me about bringing to life a pirate ship set she built for a play. The goal was to composite the shoot into the ocean. Composting is a tool I use often in my work. The most important step in making a believable image is the lighting. It is important to have the light be motivated by elements in the image and background you are compositing in. There are really three light sources in the image, the moon, the ocean, and the candle. I consider reﬂected light to be a light source, in this case, the ocean.
I used a 1x4 gridded soft box on a Siros L 800 pointed up from the ground onto the ship and the sails. I gelled it blue to simulate the light bouncing oﬀ of the water. Next, I setup two lights on the back wall pointed back at the subject and set. I commonly use lights in this position to make the subject look like they are being aﬀected by the environment. I used a 5 foot Octabox in the position of where the moon is in the image and a beauty dish on the opposite side of the ship pointing back at the camera. Together, they created a rim light. The key light was a diﬀused umbrella with a Move 1200 head gelled to full CTO (Color Temp Orange). This light simulated light from the candle. I wanted a strong contrast in light temperature from the blue of the background to orange of the main light. I borrowed this technique from painters whom commonly use warm colors to bring objects forward and cooler colors to push objects back in paintings.
The next step was compositing in the background. I won’t go through every detail on how to do it, but I will give a couple tips. Matching color and tone is very important. One common mistake is making the background too bright or too dark in comparison to the subject. Notice how dark the background is in this image. The ocean is barely visible, even though I spent a lot of time creating the background image, the mood of the image is more important than showing oﬀ the work I did on the background. Another tip is to add foreground elements in the composite. In this case, I added ocean spray to create more depth.
I wanted to reinforce how vital broncolor`s new battery powered Siros L 800 and S 400 are in shoots like this. All of my lights were 10 to 20 feet in the air and I had full control over all of them with broncolor’s app on my Iphone. In the past I would have also had to bring hundreds of feet of extension cords to get this done. Amazing innovation that had made broncolor stand out.