Before The Coffee » Photography

The Fight

The creation of this image began at the studio when a friend, Colin Foster attending the Hallmark Institute of Photography needed to get some shots for his final portfolio submission. Colin wanted to shoot a fight scene similar to many on the internet. I was concerned about copying the work of others but Colin explained that students often replicate poses and lighting setups as part of the learning process. Colin and I shot the same models in the boxing scene but we both added our own backgrounds. Here is Colin’s version

I got my daughters to come by for a few hours. The make up artist was Aimee Dorsey from Model Mayhem and her passion is gruesome-ness.

They were shot separately with both acting the part of being hit, then the hitter. Colin and I took turns shooting them.

D3, ISO 200, F13, 1/200sec.  24-70mm at 70mm

While on vacation in South Carolina I visited the pier in Garden City and felt it had many of the qualities I wanted for the fight scene. Lighting with depth, dark areas and great symmetry and perspective. This shot was taken about 5:30am during a time when only people fishing are allowed on the pier.

I set up on the empty pier and shot 5 images at 1EV spacing. I ended up blending in the single -1EV image with the HDR because Kara and Brooke were shot with a black background and a dark pier scene was needed to avoid problems blending the flying hair.

D3, ISO800, 0EV=F10, .6sec. 24-70mm at 48mm, tripod

Tyler and Becca modeled the next night on the pier to add to the fight scene. The job was for Tyler to look surprised as Becca alerted him to the fight. It was kind of a “hey look at that” moment. Notice that she’s pointing and grabbing his arm at about the same time he notices the action. I chose a specific spot based on the lighting, then during breaks in the crowd they would walk forward and strike their poses. The girl in the white skirt was fully visible in one of the shots so I included her in the final image.

D3, ISO 4000, F2.2, 1/60sec. handheld, 50mm (fixed)

The next night I walked the pier with my 50mm lens and even on a D3 it’s small enough to be stealth. I shot fishermen doing their thing on the pier. I was hoping to get someone bringing in a big one but that never happened. I left the pier about midnight. The fisherman’s bucket was white and I used Hue/saturation to colorize it close to the hand wraps.

D3, ISO 4000, F4.5, 1/13sec. handheld, 50mm (fixed)

The final image is a composite of 4 images for the people, 2 of fish plus the HDR image. Total of 11 images.

  • Mike Palmer - July 30, 2008 - 9:40 am

    FLAWLESS PERFECTION!!! Great work!ReplyCancel

  • oneshotbeyond - July 30, 2008 - 4:01 pm

    interesting concept here. Lovely HDR Processing and thanks for the details behind your shoot. What good sports the girls were-must have been a lot of fun!ReplyCancel

  • Jen - July 31, 2008 - 4:02 pm

    WOW! You blew me away with this one!

    1st of all – your daughters are beautiful (even with the bloody make-up). 🙂

    I know I’d like to sit with you to see the making of one of these in photoshop!! So impressive and pbviously it takes a lot of steps to get this final product which I so admire!
    I’m so happy you explain it all but I still think (even with my crazy love of HDR, etc) that I would have a hard time getting a photo to look like this.

    The part I kept re-reading and trying to understand was: “I ended up blending in the single -1EV image with the HDR because Kara and Brooke were shot with a black background and a dark pier scene was needed to avoid problems blending the flying hair.” I understand that you blended the -1EV image with the HDR you created but I’m still trying to understand how you got rid of the black background? Did you erase that part out of the layer? I ask because the whispy hair blowing is perfect over the pier background that you blended…

    I’ve done many multiple exposures (layering images) but there are overlaps I have issues sometimes. Would love to hear more details when you have time. 🙂

    Hi Jen,
    The basic rule of thumb when you intend to cut-out a subject and place them in a different scene is to shoot them in front of a background that is similar in brightness and color to the target background. The reason is that the pixels close to the edge of the subject blend into the background, it’s not a hard edge but a soft one. The background color actually becomes part of the subject very close to the edge. As a result, when you cut-out the subject, including shades of the background color is unavoidable. However in some cases you can cut out inside of the shaded area but a single hair is thin and doesn’t allow cutting inside. Remember, it’s not a hard edge but a gradation.

    It’s not uncommon to shoot the subject and not have the target background photographed or even visualized. In that case, I suggest shooting the subject in front of a variety of colors like black, white, 50% gray etc. When you finally get your target background you’ll have a variety of images to work with. Blending hair can be the most difficult so I tend to give that the highest priority when matching.

    To briefly state my cut-out method: First I do a rough cut-out close to the subject that always includes some of the background. Second: I drag the subject onto the target background and position it. Third: I move along the subject edge and look at how the target background and subject match. If they match then I erase on a mask with black close but not including the subject. If they don’t match I select inside of the subject, feather the selection then erase on the mask. This will create a blend from the target background to the subject. For example if the target background has blue in the area, the subject will also have a gradation of blue at the edge. It may only be a few pixels but it’s an important few pixels.

    I typically work on zoom levels from 300% – 500% which makes for a time consuming blend of the subject with the target background.

    Good Luck ReplyCancel

  • meleah rebeccah - August 3, 2008 - 10:45 am

    wow. I am impressed!!ReplyCancel

  • JRP - August 3, 2008 - 12:23 pm

    You’re so kind to write this up for me. After reading this it looks like I am on the right track with how I thought I should tackle something like this but you’ve given me quite a few pointers to look into to make cutting out easier. I definitely have to become better with masks and definitely need to get much closer to the subject with zooming in as you’ve mentioned when I erase.

    This is so well done. I need to try something like this soon and when & if I accomplish something even remotely close to what you have here I will certainly share the link.

    Thanks again Ferrell.

    Excellent work as always!ReplyCancel

  • jen rinaldi photography - August 3, 2008 - 12:26 pm

    oops…i left my last comment w/ the wrong email address. Just wanted to make sure you know it was me (which I’m sure you did). 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Vista - August 6, 2008 - 1:04 am

    You didn’t tell me you posted this. It’s so amazing! Its not just the cutouts and the perfectly blended images (ALL 11 OF THEM!!!), but the lighting is so amazingly perfect. The angles and where it falls. I love how the eye fills in the light at the lower right of the screen simply because of the repetition of the previous lights. Everything flows flawlessly. I like this version much better than Colin’s, simply because its much more believable. Amazing, not surprising. It must’ve taken hours! A well deserved, BRAVO! Oh, and the girls are gorgeous, both of them.ReplyCancel

  • meleah rebeccah - August 11, 2008 - 12:22 pm

    Ive added you to my blogroll. These are way too cool to pass up!ReplyCancel

  • Anna - August 4, 2011 - 3:25 am

    God damnit. This looks like a still from a movie. Way to go Ferrell. Once again.

    Gorgeous models.ReplyCancel

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