on location lighting

All posts tagged on location lighting


There’s just about 2 weeks until the start of the new year…have you ordered your calendar yet? The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar and Weekly Planner are on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.

Even though the year may be winding down we still have plenty of months left in the calendar to show you posts about. Let’s continue now behind the scenes of the 2015 #Disneybound Calendar and Planner.

After 4 articles I’m sure a few of you out there are tired of hearing my voice so for this blog post we’re going to have a special guest blogger giving you a new perspective on creating one of our calendar scenes. That special guest is none other than one of our talented Hair and Makeup Artists, Rica Mendes of Rica The Artist.

A student of the Paul Mitchell Academy in Danbury, CT Rica has lent her services far and wide across Connecticut and New York. Her work has even been featured by Covergirl. Rica provided her expert hair and makeup services for our March and October scenes in the calendar.

So for this post I will narrate our behind the scenes journey as usual and Rica will jump in to wake you all up again after I’ve put you to sleep.

The princess inspiration for our next scene hails all the way from Scotland. The movie with it’s lush landscape, exciting medieval tournaments and themes of pre-determined destiny was a huge hit with families. One of the most memorable sequences is during the opening credits when the main protagonist princess rides through the country side on her beautiful horse Angus.

We immediately thought it would be really cool if we could incorporate a horse into our calendar scene. As with all scenes in this calendar scheduling was a true beast.

We first had to find a horse stable that would allow us to shoot at, a model with red hair, a horse that didn’t mind it’s photo being taken, and to top it all off, our Production Stylist Sam was unavailable due to a prior commitment so that meant we also had to find a hair/makeup artist as well.

Turns out that finding a shooting location was pretty easy. After contacting multiple horse stables I got a call back from Scott Tarter owner of the Twin Lakes Farm riding academy in Westchester. He was very excited about our project as he had 2 cute little girls who not only loved horses, but Disney as well!

twinlakessign

He graciously gave me a tour of his top-notch facility and I knew we had found the perfect place to shoot. It didn’t hurt that he had close to 100 horses for us to choose from for our scene.

The other pieces didn’t fall into place quite so easily. Over the course of trying to schedule our shoot we went through 3 different models and 2 different makeup artists trying to find the perfect fit and scheduling. Clearly locating the perfect redhead model was going to be tough. However, things were getting just a little bit easier as we finally found our hair/makeup artist.

I’ll let Rica explain it in her own words:

“One afternoon I was minding my own business when my phone rang. A photographer was in a desperate situation – his stylist, the talented Sam D, had a prior commitment, and he needed someone who could fill in for those two scenes of his calendar shoot. Though I had done several photo shoots before, I hadn’t done anything that I knew would be so high profile yet. Of course, I approached the call confidently and professionally, but when I heard the concept, I’m not sure that I could hide my excitement.”

I could tell she was very excited about it, one of the reasons I knew she’d make a great fit for our team.

This would be a thrilling opportunity for any budding stylist and makeup artist, but the bigger challenge was to make sure the hair and makeup styling didn’t look out of place and fit the standard set by the amazing artist for whom I was substituting!

With our hair and makeup needs secured all we needed now was a model for Rica to work her magic on. The answer came as most answers do from my very smart wife Jena. She put us in touch with a friend of hers and that’s how we came to meet our lovely model Sarah. Just look at her beautiful red hair!

Our princess Sarah

Our princess

We arrived at Twin Lakes on the morning of September 20th. The stable was very active at that time with riding lessons and practices in addition to the normal activities of caring for the horses. We’d have to work around all of that in order to get our shot.

I showed Rica where she’d be working and her and Sarah got started with hair and makeup. She was cool, calm, collected and professional as ever. Little did I know that her nerves were doing a number on her insides.

I was a trained actress, and one of the first things you learn is to never work with children or animals. I’d previously conquered the first curse by using my daughter as a model in the last, but animals? This shoot was going to take place at a horse stable – fortunately an animal for which I have fest affection – but I also knew how fussy and stubborn they could be. The other fun part? I had to style hair and makeup at an unknown location – indoors or outdoors? Windy or calm?

Rica works her magic

Rica works her magic

Turns out Rica was right to be nervous. But not for hair and makeup, she should’ve been nervous for us setting up to take the photo.

As Rica worked her magic, my wife Jena and I began scouting the are for the perfect place to set up. The horses were naturally curious as to what was going on, even poking their heads out to see what these strange people were doing.

All was going well until it came time to open up the lighting umbrellas. Now I’m no stranger to horses, I had ridden back in summer camp when I was little, but I never did try to take a photograph of one.

We learned very quickly that horses do not like shiny umbrellas. It immediately became clear that our standard lighting setup was just not going to work at this location and we’d need something much more minimal and compact so as not to cause any disruption.

Peekinghorses

We changed locations to take advantage of the natural morning sunlight and I supplemented it with a speedlight attached to the top of my camera.

Rica was finishing up with Sarah and feeling a lot better about the shoot…of course she wasn’t seeing what was going on when we were setting up the lights.

The gods were with us all – the weather turned out to be perfect! And, though outdoors, the deck was ample enough I could set up for both hair and makeup complete with easy access to electricity for my Paul Mitchell tools. Despite one stubborn section of hair that refused to cooperate, I managed to create a mane of loose and lovely ringlets and curls.

If I have one word of advice for any makeup artists out there it is do not underestimate the importance of face sheets before an event. Knowing your game plan in advance, and planning out your steps of application can be a lifesaver.

FacialSheetRedhead-small

Princess Facial Sheet

Despite nerves kicking in as I heard antsy horses and riders and the set up for the shot getting closer and closer, I was able to smoothly execute the vision I promised Scott like a paint-by-numbers project. Fortunately, the results were far more polished.

Having finished setting up for the shot we were all pleasantly surprised when Rica and Sarah walked around the corner. Sarah was the embodiment of our princess inspiration, Rica did a great job!

Sarah and Welsh Pony Toys R Us

Sarah and Welsh Pony Toys R Us

The wonderful staff at Twin Lakes brought us over a beautiful 16 year old Welsh Pony named “Toys R Us”. Not only was he a great looking pony but had a sweet natured temperament as well.

We started shooting and “Toys” as he sometimes likes to be called decided that the grass behind us was a lot more exciting than posing for pictures. On more than one occasion he would suddenly start walking around in a circle so he could get at the grass.

Toys marches to the beat of his own drum

Toys marches to the beat of his own drum

Sarah channeled her inner horse trainer, the sun finally peaked out from behind the clouds and Toys R Us looked up just long enough for us to grab the perfect shot! We were all glad when the photo shoot finally came to an end, especially the horses.

We nailed it!

We nailed it!

Want to see the finished shot? You’ll just have to buy your own calendar or planner to check it out! The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar and Planner are on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order. Can you guess which princess and movie inspired Sarah’s wardrobe?

A very special thank you to our hair/makeup artist Rica Mendes of Rica The Artist, Scott Tarter and the whole staff at Twin Lakes Farm, and of course Toys R Us the Pony, without whom this scene would not have been possible!

Twin Lakes Farm is located at 960B California Road in Bronxville, NY, 914 – 961 – 2192. If you have an interest in horses definitely give them a call about any of their fine riding programs and horse shows.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several magazines and newspapers. In addition, his work can be seen on tour in various exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios

When we decided that our #Disneybound calendar would draw inspiration from the princess characters, naturally we knew that Disney’s newest princess film would have to be given extra special attention. I think you know the film I’m referring to. It takes place in Norway in the ice and snow and is so huge that it stars not one, but two Disney princesses.

Yes…that’s right, it’s Lilo & Stitch! Just kidding, join us now as we continue behind the scenes of the 2015 #Disneybound Calendar…

The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar and Weekly Planner are on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.

As I said before this scene was going to be big so we pulled out all the stops for this one. As you know from our other blog posts most of our scenes are very small production wise. We usually shoot with just myself, the model and our stylist with a single light or two. Not this time.

This one was a huge production. Not only did we have a large lighting and prop setup but we also had a full production team on site as well. Our 2 models Vonka and Jessica, myself, our Production Stylist Samantha Dugan, our set builder Jena Dengrove, and my assistant, Photographer Tatiana Robinson to document everything and assist with our lighting setup.

There was lots to coordinate and do, but boy did we have a good time!

In keeping with our theme of modernizing the princess characters our calendar drew inspiration from, we thought it would be a cool idea if we chose a setting that would occur after the end of the film. Once all the ice and snow cleared out and the nice weather returned where might our characters go to have some fun?

Why the beach of course! We choose a lovely little beach in Fairfield, CT to shoot our scene. In fact it’s the same beach that our August scene was photographed at last year for our Nature calendar. For those who don’t know much about Connecticut beaches almost all of them are located on the Long Island Sound, not the ocean and most of them make it very difficult for non-residents to get in during the summer months.

Our set for the day - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Our set for the day – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

We scheduled our shoot in mid-September. Well after labor day so we’d have easy access and hopefully less crowds. We pulled right up, staked out the perfect spot and got to work. Sure the few people who were enjoying a nice afternoon on the beach were a little surprised when we showed up and started scouting out an area.

I’m sure they had no idea what we were doing, but very soon it all became clear. Sam got to work on hair and makeup for our models, Tatiana and I started setting up lights, and my wife Jena started on building us a “snowman” made out of sand. I think she may have felt like she drew the short straw.

In case you’ve never tried it before, the first step in building a “sandman” is to create a big mound of sand. This is easier said than done. You see sand is not quite like snow and when it starts to dry out, it also starts to crumble. Well then your “sandman” very quickly begins to turn into sand avalanches.

I pitched in to help Jena as our sand mound started to grow.

It begins with a mound of sand - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

It begins with a mound of sand – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

We needed lots of water to keep the sand moist. This excited me greatly as you can see.

Look Ma I carried the water - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Look Ma I carried the water – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

The sand mound kept getting larger and larger.

More sand! More sand! - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

More sand! More sand! – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Meanwhile, our Production Stylist Sam was applying makeup to Vonka our model expertly transforming her into a princess fit to rule the beach.

Sam applies Vonka's makeup - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Sam applies Vonka’s makeup – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Sam applies Vonka's makeup - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Sam applies Vonka’s makeup – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Vonka the Princess - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Vonka the Princess – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Jena constantly needed more sand and water for her project and I was all too happy to help. Though I think I may have gotten a little carried away with the shovel. Before too long our “sandman” really started to take shape.

©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

By now Sam had now moved on to our other model Jessica’s makeup. The beach was about to be filled with princesses.

Sam applies Jessica's makeup - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Sam applies Jessica’s makeup – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Sam applies Jessica's makeup

Sam applies Jessica’s makeup

Princess Jessica - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Princess Jessica – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Tatiana and I started to set up the lights. I think it was at this point that the other patrons on the beach realized it was a photo shoot that we were doing and not some form of strange sand therapy.

Now where did I put that...? - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Now where did I put that…? – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Shooting late in the afternoon allowed us to use the sun coming from the direction of the water as nice natural backlighting, but we needed strong lights from the front to balance out the sunlight.

For our lighting setup we decided to go with 2 of our trusty Einstein’s manufactured by Paul C Buff. We outfitted them with two 64″ Soft Silver PLM Umbrellas also from Paul C Buff. The PLM Umbrellas give a very flattering look to the light for our models while still maintaining a bit of a hard edge as if the scene was lit fully by sunlight.

Setting up the lights - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Setting up the lights – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

It was somewhat windy on the beach that day and we made sure to bury the bottom of the light stands in some sand and also added 20lb weights to each stand to prevent the lights from getting blown over.

With our lighting ready, our set built, and our props secure we were ready to bring on the models. Not wanting to offend any of the CT natives Jena made sure that Vonka wouldn’t have any wardrobe malfunctions.

Jena secures Vonka's bikini top - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Jena secures Vonka’s bikini top – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

A few last minute directions and we were ready to start shooting.

A little to the left... - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

A little to the left… – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Did I mention that this was Jessica’s first time modeling? Naturally she was a little nervous, so we had a little sing along of “Let It Go”, that put her right at ease.

Karaoke on the beach - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Karaoke on the beach – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

We shot a few photos and then stopped to check out the images. Have you ever tried to look at an electronic screen on a bright and sunny beach? Yeah, doesn’t work so well. So Sam took her scarf and made us an awesome impromptu “dark room” to review  our images.

Darkroom on the beach! - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Darkroom on the beach! – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Jena wanted in on the fun too and it started to get a little crowded in there. We’ll have to talk to Sam about adding on an extra room.

I can't see! - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

I can’t see! – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

We continued shooting, trying different poses to get the shot just right.

©Tatiana  Flowers-Robinson

©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

At some point Sam decided to try her Russian grandmother impression…is there nothing that scarf can’t do?

Impressions on the beach - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Impressions on the beach – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Finally we got the shot we were looking for…not bad if I do say so myself.

Nailed it! - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Nailed it! – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Jena thought she might try some photography…step 1 remove the lens cap!

Why is everything so dark? - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Why is everything so dark? – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Of course our models wanted to see what we captured as well.

Oh yeah...we nailed it! - ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

Oh yeah…we nailed it! – ©Tatiana Flowers-Robinson

As I started to wrap up and put the equipment away I overheard some sort of a commotion. It seems that our “sandman” got out of line and insulted our model Vonka. Well she wasn’t going to stand for that and threatened to destroy him! Jessica begged Vonka not to destroy her companion as she loved our little “sandman” and grew quite attached to him.

Please don't destroy my friend!

Please don’t destroy my friend!

As the battle became heated Jessica dropped to her knees and pleaded with Vonka one last time. “Don’t destroy him…he didn’t mean it!”.

"I'm begging you...no...dont!"

“I’m begging you…no…dont!”

But alas it was too late with one swift kick Jessica’s little buddy was no more.

Too late...

Too late…

All that remained was his carrot nose, the lasting legacy of her fallen friend.

"I'll miss you!"

“I’ll miss you!”

Special thank you to our entire team for pulling off such an expansive shoot and making it tons of fun along the way. Our Production Stylist Samantha Dugan for her hair and makeup expertise, Photographer Tatiana Flowers-Robinson for some awesome behind-the-scenes photos, our beautiful and talented models Vonka and Jessica for channeling their inner princess and convincing everyone they were sisters, and Jena Dengrove for her fine sand working skills.

Want to see the finished photo? It’s quite spectacular but you’ll just have to buy your own calendar or planner to get one! The 2015 #Disneybound Calendar and Weekly Planner are on sale now at the Dengrove Studios website, click here to order.

Scott Dengrove is a professional photographer from the NYC area. Scott’s work has been featured in many national photography competitions and published in several magazines and newspapers. In addition, his work can be seen on tour in various exhibits at Cosi® restaurants in New York and Connecticut and a traveling exhibit entitled “America: Coast to Coast”. For more information, and to see more of Scott’s work visit his website at www.dengrovestudios.com and connect with him on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dengrovestudios follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dengrovestudios