Two weeks ago, I received a message from one of my fellow photographers Kelso, who told me that the folks over at Les Artisans D’azure were extremely interested in working with me. I’ve always been a huge medieval buff so I made some time in my crazy schedule and squeezed in a quick visit. When I got there, it was like being a kid in a toy store… I was running around having the time of my life checking out everything they had to offer. By the time I left the store, we had already set a shoot date, found ourselves an awesome location to shoot at as well as developed a vague story. By the evening, after a couple facebook shout-outs, we were at 20 models.
A couple days later, I had assembled my assistants, makeup and video crew. A week later, we had horses confirmed. A couple days after that,LL Lozeau agreed to sponsor about 40,000$ worth of profoto flashes for my shoot. A couple days before the shoot, we were at 55 confirmed participants… Things were going amazingly smoothly…
The day before the photoshoot was a whole different matter… weather forecast announced -3 degrees the day before with snow, hail, 30km/hr winds and general unhappiness all around!!! Myself and a couple others set out to camp out the night before to get in some location scouting and planning and had a merry campfire in the wind, hail and more. Of course, no signal at the medieval village supplied by L’Atelier du Loisir meant that we had no idea how many people were actually going to show up the day of the shoot so we kept fingers crossed while huddling under the blankets.
I was pleasantly surprised to see over 80% of the people that had committed actually showed up under the cold rain to join us for this amazing photoshoot. We had the most amazing committed models trudging and shivering through rain and mud just to take a couple epic photographs.
We had four solid concepts that we wanted to develop
The idea was to composite an image where our heroes were surrounded by a horde of evil minions, Diablo III style. We had two guys jumping from the sides of the building that were shot separately. Yes, there was real fire in the photo! It’s kinda hard to make a proper lighting diagram but this is about what it looked like. The flashes were placed on the second floor of the building pointing downwards to create some sort of “spotlight” effect on our central figures while the speedlights were used as kickers. Of course, as with all shoots involving a whole bunch of people, it’s hard to get everything right all at once!! There are many things I would personally enjoy seeing fixed but… there’s always next time 🙂
We wanted to create a sort of “banner shot” where the heroes were running away, escaping from this tavern of doom through these massive barn doors. We had the smoke machine rigged right in front of the heroes so that it would come bleeding out into the open. to light the rear scene, I simply placed to bare monoblocks inside the building pointing downwards, allowing the smoke to take care of diffusing the light. From the front, a simple baby octobox+ monobloc to add a little kick to our main characters. By this time, the rain had pretty much trickled down to nothing more than a drizzle which gave me the liberty to actually place the flashes outside the barn!
The idea was to have an our heroes charging through our horde of evil minions but unfortunately the horses didn’t turn out quite as cooperative as we had hoped. Also, it would seem that galloping requires a certain level of experience that our armoured heroes didn’t have so we had to settle for a dusty battle scene. At this point in time, the weather suddenly decided to cooperate (relatively) and we were suddenly showered with radian beams of sun… really not cool when you don’t have the power to overpower the sun!! Although I had a set of Pro-8a lying around, I didn’t have anything close to a 6000W generator required to power the dinky devices so they sat in their case alone and forgotten. I compensated by placing the flashes strategically around our heroes and settled for softening the shadows. We had the smoke machine behind our riders which really helped to diffuse both the harsh sunlight and our flashes.
Nothing very fancy here, just a couple large modifiers all around our heroes to make them pop out a little (as high as they could go, 45 degrees downwards… max power!!)
By the time we hit our fourth concept, the sun had finally hidden behind the clouds and I could finally overpower the sun to shoot this group photo. This time around, all elements were actually present (yes, we had people crawling over the roof!). I wanted to try something a little different so I actually shot the whole thing in four seperate shots to create a group panorama. Exploiting the fact that profotos at full power require 7 seconds of retouch time, I shot the subjects farther away first so that they’d be properly exposed and wouldn’t expose the heroes closer to us! We had a second profoto equiped with a softbox hanging out of a second floor window to highlight our friendly necromancer. I asked my good friend and retoucher Chester Van Bommel – one of the subjects that we’ll be shooting in our Von Wong does Europe tour – to help me put the whole shot together since I was actually running quite short on editing time!!
And that’s how the epic photoshoot went. There are a couple other shots that I would like to edit but I’m simply out of time with the whole Europtrip coming together.
For those of you who are interested in learning not just about lighting setups but HOW you put together a mass photoshoot, check out the write-up I did for UDI over at DIYPhotography
Oh and by the way, special thanks to our heroic videographer for putting the BTS video! Laurence Turcotte-Fraser
Costume Design: Les Artisans d’Azure
Samuel Tremblay Gagnon
Marc André Thibault
L’Atelier du Loisir
LL Lozeau – Profoto flashes
Jessica Renahan, Lisa-Marie Charron, Patricia Lapointe
Hair: Jazz Hairstylist, Manuelle Lessard
Assist: Allison B., Jessika Chiasson, Nadia Zheng
BTS Photography: Claude Campagna Lupien, Monique Guillbault
Video: Laurence Turcotte-Fraser, Sael Simard