How to shoot a Wizard!

I recently had the pleasure of shooting a design called “Impasse” for Threadless.com. The shirt features a wizard in some of sort of standoff with a knight. I had a pretty fun idea as far as the lighting was concerned: I wanted to use a speedlight to illuminate the top of the wizard’s “staff”.¬†Unfortunately it’s winter in Chicago and the Bristol renaissance fair doesn’t start up until summer, so tracking down a genuine wizard’s staff would prove difficult. I opted instead to go with a good old-fashioned boom-arm.¬†

The next step was to find a suitable location for the shoot. There’s an underpass nearby work that’s very reminiscent of a cave which I’ve been using to shoot bear-related tees lately. I’m not a huge Lord of the rings fan, but I do remember seeing the animated version of the hobbit when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure there’s a scene where Gandolf is hanging out with Bilbo Baggins in a cave, so it seemed like a pretty good fit.

 

The next step was designing the lighting:

Seeing as wizards are typically portrayed as beings with supernatural capabilities, I thought it was only right to make the lighting sort of epic. I kept thinking of the song “The Wizard” by Black Sabbath and wanted to really bring him to life. On account of us shooting outside in the cold, it was also important to be able to set up very quickly before my models get too cold! I ended up bringing my Alien bees portable power pack (which totally rules and everyone should have imo), a 30” octa with grid, and 2 strobes. The octa would serve as the key-light while one of the strobes would be part of the wizard’s staff. The last remaining strobe was used for a little bit of rim-light on the non-staff arm of the wizard. I pictured the final image to be sort of ethereal, so spent a few frames trying to really coax some lens flare out of the strobe on the wizard’s staff by varying the angle and power output of the strobe.

A little photoshop work later, and it was ready to serve up to the internet!….

 

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