Two Chaps photoshoot in a barn!
If you've been following Havelock Photography then you can't have missed the Two Chaps photoshoot!
Two Chaps are affordable car reviewers on YouTube, and they do awesome, detailed reviews of cars that your average man off the street may actually buy, rather than swanky fast cars that, let's face it, you and I probably won't ever get a chance to own... booo.
The Two Chaps are called Andy and Rich, and they are great guys. We had a lot of fun on the shoot! They came to me a few weeks before the shoot and we started talking about how I could create some images which would make their page look professional and grab that oh-so-short attention of visitors to their channel.
Andy and Rich have created a great brand for themselves, they know who they are, they know what they're doing and they know who they're trying to appeal to. That made my job sooo much easier!
The thought process for the images was this - we've got one chance to catch the eye of a passing clicker, so we need at least one image which is striking, immediately tangible and obvious what it says and what it means, and captures everything which Two Chaps is about.
What is Two Chaps about? It's affordable, generally second hand cars. It's Rich and Andy. It's funny. It's knowledgable. It's aimed at people who know a few things, but not everything, about cars.
(some behind the scenes images here courtesy of Tom Hobbs and his surprisingly good Olympus EM1, check the photo descriptions to see whose images are whose. But generally the fisheye ones are Tom's. Thanks TOM!)
So, first things first, the image as a whole. We decided to go for a fairly stereotypical, perhaps a bit of a cliche - three cars angled inwards, the Two Chaps standing in front of them. So often we work to avoid cliches, but when you've got less than five seconds to hook someone, a cliche is exactly what you need. It's an image the eye is expecting, so the viewer doesn't have to spend time trying to figure out what they're looking at. They accept the image as a whole and are drawn in by the detail. So, don't fear cliches, but be aware of why you're using them when you use them!
Next we needed to sort the details... what should the cars be? The Two Chaps suggested trying to get hold of some fancy cars for the shoot, but that wouldn't be what they're about. However, we did need three cars, and as there are Two Chaps, the centre car was going to visible between them, so it could do with being something a bit interesting. In steps Tom Hobbs, colleague of Rich and Andy, and owner of a purple 1983 mini ( I think that's the right age, could be wrong... it was certainly a late model, original shape mini).
We used Andy's BMW 320d and Rich's mk1 Ford Fiesta as the two other cars. They have already featured in the Two Chaps reviews, so they're known to the fans.
Next we needed a location. We could have done it outside, but I wanted to do better. I spent a quite pleasant afternoon driving around the countryside outside Bristol, looking for a barn. Loads of farms have empty barns, right? Well I found one anyway! And a quick chat with the owner and we were all set for a shoot two days later. And what a location it turned out to be... I was a bit giddy after I found it, I knew it was going to look amazing.
I'm not going to get too techy in this blog post, but the photographers amongst you will realise of course that the wonderful rows of skylights in this barn are all very well, but to make them show up I needed to keep the strobes on low power, otherwise I was going to beat down the light coming from the roof. That made things slightly trickier, but we can work with slightly tricky! Anything up to "absolutely impossible" is fine with us, and even "absolutely impossible" needs scrutinising before we give up on it!
We set up with the three cars. I think everyone enjoyed the novelty of driving into and around a barn. Plus we did a bit of formation driving for the drone footage and some precision driving to get the cars aligned precisely. It's more difficult than you might think!
Four strobes initially - two with softboxes at the front to light the two guys, two unmodified strobes really high, at the fullest reach of the C-stands on either side to give me a rim light on the guys and catch the cars as well.
Initial results were good:
You'll notice that the mini is gleaming nicely there. But where is that light coming from?? You may ask... If you are asking that then it's a good spot! Of course the four lights left the mini a bit dark and forlorn in the middle of the shot, but that's a very difficult thing to fix! I needed to get a light onto it without throwing any more light onto the tow guys, and without putting a light in the middle of the frame behind the car.
Solution? An assistant with strong arms! The light on the mini is a strobe with a snoot being pointed straight at the bonnet on the end of a long pole, being held up and over the heads of the two guys in the foreground. Clever eh?
The scene was set... the photo was nicely composed, and nicely lit. I was happy. But it needed something else. Something to make it really zing!
Enter smoke grenades!
We set off a few smoke grenades, the first one told us which way the air was moving in the barn. I had been concerned before the shoot that if there was a good breeze that day, the open ends of the barn would funnel the breeze and create a wind tunnel, whisking away all my smoke before it had a chance to settle. But my worries were unfounded, there was little wind that day.
However, there was still air movement in the barn. And oddly, after setting off the first grenade, we discovered it was moving not only down the barn, but also right to left in the barn. It took five or six smoke grenades before we got it right. And in fact, the smoke from each one didn't really clear straight away, so after a few we started to get a really nice mist throughout.
The main photo we were aiming for was a wide shot. We got the smoke just right, and went for it:
Now, this is where my slightly obsessive, perfectionist side started to itch a little. It's a great photo, I like it. But it's not quite right yet. We've got that same problem again - the centre of the frame isn't getting enough light. I can't light it behind because the lights will be visible in the image. I could put a light on a big C-stand right in the centre at the back, and then photoshop it out later, but I always believe you should do everything in your power to get your image perfect on the day, and leave as little as possible to chance later. Because once the shoot's over, it's over. Plus photoshopping with smoke wafting is tricky. Too risky. I needed to fix it.
So we got out a fifth strobe, and place it on the floor behind the mini, pointing up into the air somewhere above the mini. And it worked perfectly:
And there we have it. The image we set out to capture. See the difference between that and the one above? If you look at them side by side you can clearly see where the strobe behind the mini is doing its job. It's just picking up the smoke in the air in the centre of the frame. Perfect!
So that was that. The Two Chaps photoshoot. We all had a lot of fun. And just to reward you for reading this far... here's a video which the Two Chaps have cut as a trailer for their channel, using the drone footage and some of the images:
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