How'd they do that?

Discussion in 'Sports' started by rascal64, May 3, 2017.

  1. I saw this banner example come up in an MPIX ad, the LINK is here. I tried finding the photog with not much luck.
    My question...Is this a composite shot or a single shot? It is hard for me to tell with the angle and size. I absolutely love the quality here and would like to create a shot with a similar feel.

    Moderator Note: Image removed - link inserted.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  2. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    To my eye the Photographer used a U/Wide Angle Lens at a Low Elevation and bumped in a bit of Flash Fill.

    Camera position is offset to Camera Right relative to the centre of the Group of Boys.

    I think the boys at Camera Right are at a further distance away from the Fence, than the Boys at Camera Left.

    I think it is one shot and not a composite.


    Also I think the "visual effect" of the U/WA Lens used to make the shot of the Group of Boys in the Banner, is exacerbated by the Camera Viewpoint used to make the Photograph of the Banner on the Cycle Fence. I assume that was done intentionally by the person(s) directing the Advertising Photography for MPIX. This effect should not be confused with what the visual effect of the Banner will be, when the Banner is viewed front on at 90 degrees.

    ronlane likes this.
  3. Thanks for the responses. I spoke with another photog friend of mine who suggested at least 3 flashes to really define the kids, the gear etc. This helps...should be a fun project. Thanks!
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Not sure if you mean you would NEED to use three flash units to make a better shot or if you mean that three flash units were used for that shot . . .

    For that shot - the Flash Fill is very heavy at Camera Right and at Camera Left.

    The lad second from the end at Camera Right has much flash burn on his L Arm and that flash burn is quite similar to the flash burn on the lad at the extreme Camera Left.

    Makes me think that the Boys are in a slight Horseshoe configuration and the Flash is Off Camera, located ON AXIS and 90 degrees to the centre of the group, but the Camera Position (as already mentioned) is offset to Camera Right relative to the centre of the Group of Boys.

    From the shadows the Flash is positioned slightly higher than the Camera's Elevation.

    Using an U/WA lens, it would be easy to position one powerful "Speedlite" type Flash Unit on a stand withing the Maximum Flash Working Distance for Flash as Fill on a slightly cloudy day: where we'd expect the Ambient Exposure to be in accord with EV = 14~15.

    I don't see any apparent evidence that there is more than one Flash Unit used for that image: to my eye, the shadows certainly do not imply that.

  5. Thank you William...I see that heavy burn on the boys arm. Strange that there is no such thing on the boy to his right. Looks then that the heavy definition is in post editing?
  6. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, I was thinking about that. I think you are correct. I think that the Boy at extreme right has a darker, more olive-toned skin, too - just by comparing their faces,

  7. Looks like shadows on boys on right from a light to the right, boys on left from a light on the left. My guess, 2 lights. Note the individual shots below the group shot all have main light at left with identical shadows on camera right on the faces.
  8. Thanks Bob and William. The individuals I can see the lighting pretty easily. I was most interested in the feel of the group shot. So, you guys don't think there is any light behind bringing them off the bg and making the equipment pop?
  9. There is separation between the boys and the background because the flash/ shutter speed controlled difference in the brightness of the subject and background making the subjects brighter. Pulls the eye to the subjects. In several cases the gloves are closer to the lights, hence brighter due to the inverse square law with light falling off over distance. I see no evidence of kickers as in my profile image. Also note the hand coming forward holding the ball shows marked perspective exaggeration, so probably was shooting with a wide angle lens up close. Possibly because had to keep the flashes in close because of low power and/or power loss from modifiers. Possibly having difficulty keeping aperture small enough for enough depth of field to keep the semicircular arrangement with hands and gear forward in some cases as well as the fence behind sharp. This could have pushed the limits of lights especially if using speed lights with umbrellas eating a stop or two of light.
  10. Thank you Bob! I think you have taken care of some of the issues I might face with your response. Great info. Now I need to put this thing together!
  11. I started off agreeing with William that it was done in a single shot with a single light, subjects in an inverted 'U' or 'V' formation, and shot from low - roughly waist level. Except that I couldn't see a wide lens in this.

    But the more I looked, the more things didn't add up.

    I doubted a wide lens because 1) why aren't the extreme sides seeming to tilt inwards? (Ok, could be a rising-front camera OR perspective-corrected after the fact.) 2) Why don't the heads at far left and right appear elongated? So I presumed a slightly wide lens at best. But still I presumed it was a single shot, with the strong perspective-effect mainly due to the low camera angle combined with the v-arrangement of the group.

    Having said this, Bob comments, "Also note the hand coming forward holding the ball shows marked perspective exaggeration..." Certainly I concur with this - that player was shot from fairly close up. Presumably this sort of thing is why William "sees" a U/wide lens in use? But... again my objections - why no sign of such artifacts on the far left and right?

    Additionally, if one examines the "perspective situation" more carefully, it can be seen that any of the players have a normal-looking appearance when viewed directly from their front, which doesn't happen with a wide lens. Although this is a key thing in my understanding, I won't argue this point on - the couple of times I've done so it's been a proverbial "waste of my breath."

    Anyway, the incongruities of perspective, combined with several other inconsistencies lead me to believe that this is actually a composite. I'm fairly certain of this.

    By the way, if I were going for a somewhat similar look, I'd probably try it in a single shot, much as has been described, but using only a slightly wide lens. (My main reason for this is as a time saver; if I were also doing individual-player shots for sale then I'd consider doing it as a composite .)
  12. I have several comments to add with respect to the lighting/shadows, and the question of whether this is a single shot or a composite.

    At first, assuming that it's a single shot, I was bothered by the difference in shadows between the jerseys and pants. The jerseys have few shadows, but the pants have many dark shadows. So, if the light source is coming from some distance, near the camera, I wondered, how can every fold or ripple in the fabric of the pants produce such deep shadows? It seems like the light should have been able to get into those shadows.

    But... those shadows can be explained IF the light is close to each subject. If a moderate-sized softbox were, say about five feet from each subject, and centered at about subject eye level, this is about what I'd expect. Obvious that softbox has to be high enough that the bills of the caps can be shadowed. At the same time, having the light fairly close will allow the pants to show shadows at every slight fold of the fabric, whereas the jerseys are relatively shadow-free.

    Since no softboxes are showing in the group photo, my assumption is that the photo is a composite. If every individual were photographed from fairly close, with light somewhat above the camera, and then all put together in a composite, I think this explains the odd things about the lighting.

    There is one other note on the lighting. In several places, I think it's likely that a person "in front" should have left a shadow on someone else. Yet I don't see any such shadowing. One example - the catcher on the far right (with black chest protector) likely should have a shadow from the elbow of the player in front of him, yet no shadow is apparent.

    Anyway, these observations further support the case for the banner photo being a composite.
  13. Hi Bill, this was an interesting question and if I could have gotten it large enough to see the eyes and catch lights would have been more sure of what I was seeing.Usually the w/a distortion can easily be corrected in photoshop. Note the camera position is in front of the players at camera right. Those players are much larger than the players at camera left. I am guessing the semi circle helps a bit for those on the left end. Again, the kind of perspective distortion I would expect from a w/a lens. The face shadows make me think he had the strobes in front of the end players. Bottom line for me, this is not what I would do. I would have the camera in the center of the group, probably a 50 or 35mm lens if need be, A 5 or 6 foot umbrella above and right behind me. On the individual shots below the group shot, I would have preferred to see a separation light from the RR because the dark shadow blends into the dark background. If he's taking a dozen shots in that set up, it doesn't take that long to set up a kicker in addition to a main and fill. Speaking of which, would have liked some fill for the facial shadows as they are a bit too dramatic for my tastes for youth baseball. Just me. A group shot like this isn't a studio shot, and I don't believe most photographers are paid to produce one.
  14. Hi Bob, no, I disagree. The first thing I did was to load the image up and undo the distortion of the banner. That is it appeared as though I'm looking at it head-on.

    Once I did this, the head sizes, left vs right, are pretty symmetrical. (Ignore the far right catcher, as he DOES appear a little closer.)

    You said, "Note the camera position is in front of the players at camera right." I presume you say this simply because it looks that way to you. The odd thing is, that once I "normalized" the image distortion, everyone in it looks like the camera had been directly in front of them. Whereas in a normal photo it is often possible to find one viewing position that gives a realistic-looking view. But in this, every person in the group has their own such position.

    It's a good scheme for a banner, because the viewer can stand anywhere, and it still looks "right."

    If we were discussing this in the local bar, I'd be willing to give good odds on a bet that it's a composite, then even get a Facebook account to ask the photographer(s), Harris Butcher Imaging, from Pittsburg, Kansas.
  15. I never thought this would generate such a discussion. I did try to find the photog on Facebook. Though there is an account, there is no website and only one photo. Basically, the page consists of a bunch of quotes from satisfied clients. I would much rather shoot this as a single shot. Hopefully I can achieve the look with that. You guys have pointed out quite a few flaws in the image that I hope to avoid. My main objective is to try to capture the very unstructured, high contrast,moody, ragamuffin, almost album cover look (Those are the only words I can think to describe what I am seeing). And I don't want to have to battle the shadows that players may cast on each other. I am hoping to achieve it with 2 speedlites (One at each end) and using the built in flash at a fairly low setting to trigger the speedlites and provide some fill for the centre players. Also shooting late afternoon, early evening. Then some editing focusing on contrast, some dodge/burn for details. What do you think?
  16. Hi, if you put a speedlite at each end I think you'll end up with lots of crossed shadows as well as the center people going dark (they're farthest from the flashes). Personally, what I'd try is to use both of your speedlites directly over the camera, using the largest diffuser you have. Put one light higher than the bills of their caps so as to get a little shadowing underneath it; keep the second light high enough that you don't light up the underside their chins or noses. (A single tall, skinny light would be better, eliminating the double shadow, but might as well try to work with what you already have.)

    When you arrange the group, try to keep them equidistant from the lights, meaning in a rough semicircle around the lights. This, combining with the diffusers, will guarantee that all the subjects are evenly lit.

    I think this is about the closest you'll get, but I suspect you may have trouble getting enough light to overpower the ambient, as well as getting enough depth-of-field.

    Definitely do some experiments ahead of time. It could be worked out on paper, but if you can find a couple of warm bodies around your home, it's probably quicker to do a few quick n dirty tests. (You can even do all the modeling yourself by using the self-timer and standing in premarked places.)

    Best of luck.
  17. Thank you Bill. I actually went back to their Facebook page and it looks like it is much more filled in than last time I visited. I messaged them. It looks like they do a lot of green screen work, so probably a composite as suspected. Though I will try to do something old shot.
  18. To everyone who contributed to this thread, I actually found out quite a few details. I messaged the photographer and got some great responses. He even posted some editing on instagram. So it is a composite, but you have all given me great info to try to get a similar feel with one shot.
    Thank you to everyone.
    Instagram post by Herb Harris • Apr 10, 2016 at 8:04pm UTC
    William Michael likes this.
  19. Rascal64, thanks for the update; it's nice (at least for me <grin>) to get the definitive answer.

    BTW, I think a lot of the "moody look" is a result of the angle of the lighting, which you won't be able to do in a single shot, at least not without your lighting gear being in the shot.

    Best wishes on your attempts.
  20. Great question. Reverse engineering can be a challenge. Was a tough call. Found the web site and I have emailed the photographer, let's see if we get a response.

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