Posted on June 18th, 2015

Winchester To Paris

During 2014 I was approached to capture a number of images for a team of young men who were running from Winchester, Uk to Paris, France to raise money for cancer research. They asked for individual images and a group image to be used as advertising for the event and that could be used online on the teams Facebook group page. There we no real limitations over the look of the images other than needing to be able to have text put over them.

Initial thoughts

When Josh first came to me with this project he did not have much of an idea of how the images would look however he wanted studio photos a little like images I took for the Transmedia project.

From this we were then able to discuss ideas about how the images would look. As this project was for cancer research we discussed how images for the charity had been taken before and the approach we would take. In the past cancer research images have been taken using a: pulling together, happy or caring approach using soft lighting, bright warm colours and models smiling like the image from the cancer research website.

Despite this Cancer Charities have a second approach that suits this project far better. The other approach is “FIGHT CANCER” and we decided to focus more on the fact that cancer is an enemy and we need to fight back hard. For this, hard lights, high contrast and powerful images are used. This also tends to be a style used for athletes so for this project the two elements of fighting cancer and athleticism would combine to create powerful images of the team ready to fight cancer.

One of my main challenges for this image would be the lighting, all studio photos are made using lighting far more than any other photographic techniques. For this image a technique called depth threw lighting would be vital, this is where shadows and highlights in the image are used to give the image depth. This means the Flash HAS to be off camera. Using the flash on camera means that the light is coming from the same direction as the camera removing shadows and flattening the image.

For sports images depth threw lighting can be used to the extreme like images by world renowned athlete photographer Joel Grimes who uses studio images and compositing to create powerful dramatic images.

Lighting Setup

Once we had found the style I was then able to work out how to light the image strangely this lighting is far closer to the lighting used for product images over traditional studio photography. In this setup I would use 2 lights as rim lights and one as a key light. Rim lights, light the side of the image to create the glow seen in Joel Grimes image and the key light lights the centre of the face. In order to create an effective rim light the light has to be collimated this is where the light is forced to travel in the same direction and the width of the beam created does not change width from source to subject. On the light modification scale this is midway between focused light where all the light is focused onto one point and defused light where light is scattered and spread-out. To achieve collimated light a honeycomb grid is added to the light as a modifier however because the beam of light on the subject will be the same size as the source it requires a large honeycombed grid over a large soft box. This created my first problem as I required 2 large soft boxes and 2 large grids one for each side rim light. Despite having large soft boxes I do not have girds to fit them this is why my rim light is not as hard as the rim light in images Joel Grimes is able to achieve. The rim lights are positioned slightly behind the subject pointing back towards to subject as shown below so they just light the edges of the subject. Because the lights are pointing slightly towards to camera as well, stray light enters the camera and creates lens flair. Despite this being a creative tool for some images this is unwanted for this style. To stop this, blackout card has to be placed on the soft box to work as a lens hood. The final light is called a fill light or key light this light is used to light the centre of the subject and for this image is placed in front and slightly above them subject. This light has too soft to not create unwanted shadows under the eyes to achieve this I used a large shoot threw umbrella. An advantage to using an umbrella for this is that it also creates a nice round specular highlight in the eye of the subject this looks far more natural than a square one created by a soft box.

How the lights affects the image

The image below show how each light affects the image. Each light has being coloured the red showing the left rim light, green is the right rim light and yellow showing the key light.

Shooting the Images

I then took each of the images we required. Because the backgrounds were going to be removed I did not have to worry too much about composition however I had to ensure that I allowed enough of the body to be seen. I also opted to take all the individual shots and then composite those into a group image. This stops any issues lighting all models at the same time.

Photoshop compositing and editing

Each image then has the background removed. This is done using the new refine edge tools in Photoshop.

The images were then layered into a group shot.

I then added a background, which is one of my stock images, ready for the colour correction and text to be added.


The techniques I used were a good way to add drama to the images however if I was to take this image again I would use more fill light and use less wide soft boxes and add honey comb grids. The response for this image has been really positive and members to the student union staff have enquired about me taking photos of the University teams.

The team with the image under the Eiffel Tower, Paris after completing the challenge. Well Done Guys!

Leave a Reply