Behind the scenes – studio photography

It’s been a busy (but good) few weeks of pro bono work at Pima Animal Care Center (PACC).  I’ve been working with them on their art auction  for the past several sessions but this week we finally wrapped up that work and have moved on to the next project – building a stock photo library.

Ruby

Ruby will now represent PACC animals on promo materials.

As you might imagine, PACC produces a LOT of marketing and fundraising material.  In the past they’ve snapped photos as needed or purchased stock photo licenses to use for these purposes but going forward they will use my photos of their animals for that material. This project will include on location type photos (like I’ve been creating for the last year and a half or so for them) and studio photos.  I’m happy to help as needed of course but especially looking forward to working with ‘highly adoptable’ animals in a studio environment again.

Anyhoo,  I’ve written in the past about how I’ve used external flashes to help eliminate background clutter so I thought you might also enjoy seeing how I create the studio photographs.    The good news is that the conference room I’ve been working in has plenty of space and has doors so there’s little chance of escape – the bad news is that it is in a separate building.  On balance, I think it will work out very well.

Keeping the animals off of the floor helps middle aged photographers keep them where they belong.

Keeping the animals off of the floor helps middle aged photographers keep them where they belong.

Here’s my initial setup minus one light.  You can’t see it from this angle but there is also a strobe more or less in the middle of the scene up on a boom with the light reflected on to the scene with a small umbrella.  As you can see, I set up the platform the animals sit or stand on on top of a pair of tables.  This is important because it allows me the opportunity to move around with the critters while still working ‘down’ at their level.  (You noticed that I almost never use an elevated camera position, right?).  I also have softboxes at 45 degree angles on either side of the seamless.  This is important for keeping the light even over the entire scene.  This isn’t the most dramatic lighting I could use, but makes it easy to ensure the animals are well lit no matter where they move to on the platform.

Here you can see me working with a pair of 5 week old kittens.  When kittens are this young, they don't really play like they do when they are older.  I'm waving my arm in big sweeping movements to get their attention because the babies tend to miss the more subtle cues.   Also, notice how well my back in illuminated?  That's because of the strobe behind me.

Here you can see me working with a pair of 5 week old kittens. When kittens are this young, they don’t really play like they do when they are older. I’m waving my arm in big sweeping movements to get their attention because the babies tend to miss the more subtle cues. Also, notice how well my back in illuminated? That’s because of the strobe behind me.

M_Kloth_2465

Here you can get a better idea about how the softboxes work with the animals. The little transmitter on top of my camera triggers the strobes to fire when the camera is ready. You can see some important elements of the shoot in the frame too – cleaner so I can clean the area between animals, a big box of props, a drink, and more.

Pretty cool, right?

This is the final result for one of the two kittens on the table in the photos above.

This is the final result for one of the two kittens on the table in the photos above.

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