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I did  NOT need this today!
1st PlaceI did NOT need this today!
yakatme


Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Nonsense (Advanced Editing VII)
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D IF-ED
Location: Miami, Florida
Date: Oct 5, 2011
Aperture: f/13
ISO: 200
Shutter: 1/80
Galleries: Humorous, Children
Date Uploaded: Oct 5, 2011

www.robertsullivanphotography.com

After a lot of thought about how to create a photo that "makes absolutely no sense" I finally came up with this concept which I believed would fit the challenge description very well. The problem that I immediately faced was how to acquire all of the elements necessary to do this right, and how to properly use my lights to achieve the effect that I was after.

The planning:

I started this thread asking for help with how to achieve the look of photographers like Tim Tadder and Dave Hill. I knew the look that I wanted but I didn't know how to pull it off yet and I asked for help in that thread. I didn't want to exactly copy their style, but studying what they did helped me to better understand what could be done and how. I scrutinized their images to backwards engineer their lighting setup and watched their behind the scenes videos. One poster in the thread suggested that I should be experimenting and developing my own style. Uh, yeah, thanks a lot. That was my intention, but studying the work of these photographers helped me to learn a lot so that I could apply it in my own way. In the end, I don't think that I even came close to copying anybody.

After giving the photo shoot a lot of thought and planning I had a definite image in my mind of what I wanted. Actually, I am amazed at how this entry came out almost exactly how I envisioned it down to some of the smallest details. All of my outtakes were of the same composition, that's how sure I was that I had things in place just as I planned.

Putting it together:

At first I was going to bring in a little girl that I had taken pictures of previously along with her father who is a security guard. The idea was for him to be the police officer. I wanted authenticity though, and besides, he didn't have a police motorcycle and I knew that that was an important element of the detailed image that I had in mind. As I was driving to a local police department a client called to meet with me and I told her that I could swing by because I was on the road anyway. I told her that I was on my way to make a cold call on the police department in the hopes of finding a motorcycle cop who would be willing to participate. She said that she knows one personally who also happens to have a two year old girl. She made the phone call which set this shoot in motion. How lucky to get two for one with this policeman!!! After talking with his wife by phone, it was all set with one stipulation: I had to assure them, in writing, that I would not allow anything in the image that would identify the police department. To my relief, not having any of the departments logos in the image ended up being a little easier than I expected. I expected that her head would block the logo on the fuel tank, his right shoulder was turned away from the camera, and the left was blocked after I asked him to elevate his ticket pad. No problem.

The setup: After using Google Maps and their street view mode I was able to determine how I was going to arrange the subjects and compose my image in their front yard two days before the shoot. I used four lights, three Alienbees powered by the Vagabond Mini lithium battery pack, one SB600, and I set them off using Pocket Wizards. The two lights on the officer were placed at almost 45 degrees behind him, one with a large softbox high and to his right, and one with a 84" umbrella with a white diffuser to his left sitting on the ground (of course, at 84" it was also higher than him). A third Alienbee was in a shoot through umbrella to the girl's left and on the ground, and the SB600 with a reflector attached was to her right and also on the ground. I cranked the power up fairly high to overpower the full daylight that I was shooting in.

The shoot itself: While planning this in my head, I knew that I needed to shoot from down low to achieve the look that I wanted from the girls level and also to create the drama of the intimidating police officer towering over her. I was so low that I had to lay on my side with my head on the ground to see through the viewfinder. One of those 90 degree viewfinder adapters would have come in handy. I spent a fair amount of time testing the light settings with the officer in the picture so that I wouldn't be 'experimenting' while my young model was sitting there. It's a good thing because, as I expected with a toddler, she tired quickly of the process and wanted to go riding the tricycle that I brought with me. Once we started shooting, SHE WAS SO CUTE! She wouldn't stop saying "Cheeeeese" and giving me a big smile. Her father, mother, and I would encourage her not to smile because she is supposed to be sad that she is getting a ticket. Her reply was an indignant "But I don't want to be sad!" It was so funny, but every time that she said that she had a somewhat sad face. To ensure that she no longer smiled her father turned on the motorcycle and she definitely lost the smile then. She then proceeded to turn around to point at the motorcycle and tell her mother that she was scared. In the shot that I used was another stroke of luck: She frowned slightly for just a moment and the picture that I took just happened to capture both of the flashing blue lights on at the same time. In most of the other outtakes only one was captured on at a time.

Post processing: Again, I wanted that somewhat harsh and slightly artificial look that Tim Tadder and Dave Hill are so good at. What I found, thanks to some of the people who posted in my thread, was that their final images are composites of around 30 to 50 images. Obviously, that's outside the advanced editing rules, so I had to do what I could with a single image.

I processed three exposures through HDR in CS5 and then added the middle exposure as a masked layer to tone down the HDR effect in some parts of the image. I did a lot of vibrance, saturation, levels, and brightness/contrast adjustment layers. I duplicated a layer and ran it through Topaz Detail, masked it out and selectively reapplied it to much of the image except for the girl. I wanted the look of the officer to be harsh and intimidating. It certainly helped that he has those bulging muscles.

Making this image without compositing multiple images was extremely difficult. There were a lot of problems to overcome that would have been a lot simpler if I could have shot all of the elements separately and then combined them in post processing. The main problem was achieving the look that I sought with the lights while keeping them out of the picture. I wanted them close and harsh, but that was hard to do and not see them, especially the light high and to the left of the image. I needed to light that side of the officer from that side and behind him, but the motorcycle had to be in the frame and therefore, the light had to farther away from the officer than I would have liked.

Okay, it seems that I've written enough for a book. If I missed something or you have a question, PM me.

Here's the image straight from the camera:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_977656.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_977656.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

And here you can see two of the four lights and get an idea of where I placed them:

' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_978708.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/35000-39999/39184/120/Copyrighted_Image_Reuse_Prohibited_978708.jpg', '/') + 1) . '


Statistics
Place: 1 out of 75
Avg (all users): 7.1240
Avg (commenters): 8.4118
Avg (participants): 6.7436
Avg (non-participants): 7.3049
Views since voting: 5636
Views during voting: 402
Votes: 121
Comments: 48
Favorites: 9 (view)


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AuthorThread
10/15/2011 09:47:04 PM
This is so well executed - love it! Congrats on much deserved blue!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/15/2011 08:14:19 PM
I didn't really consider this "nonsense" since we have serious problems with our local Trike Toddler gang roaring up & down our street. :P

Congrats on the blue. Well earned!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/15/2011 03:16:39 AM
The shot it's self is a real eye-catcher and clearly you had an inspired idea from the very beginning but for me the time and effort that you put into it including your detailed write up you gave are worthy winners also.
Congratulations on the well deserved blue.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 08:09:47 PM
Ha! Hey wow, great job man!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 05:27:02 PM
Nicely done. Reminds me of mpeter's shot from a while back. The cops really have it out for the poor kids! :P
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 04:00:42 PM
Fantastic idea. Fantastic execution. Fantastic shot. Fantastic processing. Fantastic description.

I could see this going big time viral.

Message edited by author 2011-10-14 16:01:18.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 01:11:51 PM
Big congrats and nice reward for all that effort. Glad you took time to yakatUS with that great write-up!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 12:06:48 PM
I think that the expression you got (and I know about shooting toddlers!) is a one-in-a-million perfection. I know you were going for sad, but sad wouldn't have sold this photo so much. THIS expression, the "OH dear, here we go again" look? That's just gold. GOLD.

  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 11:35:05 AM
Congrats on the BLUE!!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 10:26:35 AM
Great job! This is very well done. Congrats on the well deserved blue!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 09:53:44 AM
Originally posted by Cuttooth:

Great image and write up. definitely deserving of the blue.

you did mention in the write up that you had to make sure the police dept's logo was not visible. i know it's not visible in the entry but in your lighting outtake, you can see it on his uniform and bike. not sure if it matters but just wanted to mention it.


Great catch! I'll take care of that. Thanks a lot.
10/14/2011 09:51:35 AM
Great image and write up. definitely deserving of the blue.

you did mention in the write up that you had to make sure the police dept's logo was not visible. i know it's not visible in the entry but in your lighting outtake, you can see it on his uniform and bike. not sure if it matters but just wanted to mention it.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 09:30:17 AM
you are amazing Robert...what a great story, set up and execution (oh, not a good word)....with all the work that went into this is deserved nothing but top bill!!! errrr ticket...lol
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 09:11:54 AM
Way to go Robert! This photograph is fantastic! It still makes me chuckle. =)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 09:08:49 AM
Congrats on the ribbon.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 08:59:56 AM
Excellent!

Fantastic image, and thank you for sharing the story behind it; as well as the process.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 08:20:01 AM
VERY cute! Congratulations on the Blue for a well conceived, executed, and PPed image!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 08:15:39 AM
Good one Robert! Congrats on the shiny new ribbon!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 07:34:52 AM
Yay - you go!!! HUGE congratulations!!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 02:29:45 AM
Super funny! Congrats on the blue!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 01:49:44 AM
Bloody brilliant Rob - go Team go. Congrats on the Blue. This just cracks me up.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 01:29:54 AM
This is great... I was sure you were going for the blue. The idea is perfect and I love the lighting.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 01:14:24 AM
Perfect Robert! Well-deserved blue. Go team! This is a really well-crafted shot.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 01:04:05 AM
Wonderful!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 12:56:54 AM
Good job, Robert. You're getting the look down.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 12:38:07 AM
So well done!..Congrats!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 12:08:11 AM
This is great! Congrats on the blue.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/14/2011 12:04:51 AM
Congratulations! I like the processing here...

Message edited by author 2011-10-14 00:05:06.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
10/13/2011 11:30:22 PM
very funny. 7
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/13/2011 03:31:04 PM
hilarious. the lighting is great too
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/13/2011 02:07:08 AM
Great idea.
And funny..well done!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/12/2011 12:37:17 PM
How cute!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/11/2011 09:34:06 AM
I don't think this is the best fit for the challenge, but I love this shot. So well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/11/2011 09:13:19 AM
LOL! Perfect nonsense...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/10/2011 08:03:26 PM
cute 8
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/10/2011 07:54:13 AM
Love it, as a cop myself I love these type of photos.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/09/2011 07:25:39 PM
WOW I LOVE THIS! This is great!!!! Awesome picture. 10!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/08/2011 08:53:48 PM
This happens around here, though the "driver" is usually about 5 - 8 years older.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/08/2011 06:56:57 PM
The best in the challenge imho - 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/08/2011 04:07:15 PM
Ha! HA!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/08/2011 11:48:34 AM
Awesome
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 04:59:26 PM
Makes sense, I'm afraid. That kid could be smuggling kool-aid or black market care-bears.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 04:46:12 PM
And we should have a winner!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 02:41:42 PM
Wonderfully setup. One of my favorites for this challenge.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 09:04:03 AM
great set up. beautiful colors and background. added bonus: love to see that somebody is still giving eric estrada work.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 12:44:34 AM
Wonderful. 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 12:42:42 AM
Very cute
  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/07/2011 12:17:05 AM
OMG, I so love this, great concept, and the look on your little model is priceless. 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.


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