Lighting a Band in the Mountains
Guest writer Brandon Cawood is the owner and head photographer at Flash Light Productions. He primarily shoot weddings as well as commercial and product photography. He spent most of his teens and early 20′s playing in bands and touring the country. After he became a photographer, naturally one of his favorite type of shoots is band promos.
Back in December the band Last Act Standing from Ellijay, GA booked me for a shoot. After talking to the band for a couple of weeks and discussing our options, they decided they wanted a bright sunny natural looking promo shots. I love shooting natural light. I also love using strobes and shaping the light the way I want. When I packed up my gear to make the two hour drive I decided to just throw my strobes in my truck “just incase”. As I was drive through the mountains of North Georgia the weather started looking more and more gloomy. The higher I went up the mountain the thicker and thicker the fog was getting. At one point I could barely see ten feet ahead of me. It started to become very apparent that the nice sunny and warm shoot they had in mind was not going to happen on this particular day. I finally met up with the band and followed them even farther up the mountain until we reached our destination for the shoot. I discussed with them my thoughts on how we should go about the shoot since the weather wasn’t cooperating, and they agreed to allow me creative control. I didn’t have my partner Whitney with me, but the band was cool enough to help me lug my gear up an enormous hill to where we take the photos.
After looking around I decided to set the band up in front of these spooky looking trees. All the leaves had already fallen off so it made for an especially dark and creepy looking atmosphere. I positioned my strobes the way i wanted them. Next I under exposed the background a little to give it a dark eerie look, positioned the band where I wanted them, and shot away! The fog actually turned out to be very beneficial in giving the final images more of that eerie look I was going for. Thank you mother nature!
As far as equipment goes, I was shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II and using Paul C. Buff Einstein strobes. Often times I will shoot one band member at a time and composite them together, but for this shoot I decided just to bump up the f-stop and shoot everyone together. The final product turned out pretty sharp so I was pleased that I went this route. It allow me to play with angles and not worry about shooting with a tripod. I put together two light diagrams showing my two different lighting set ups. Feel free to visit my site and check out some more of my work! Any comments or questions are welcome.