Where can you find a realistic knights outfit that won’t drain your budget? If you live in a big city such as LA or Chicago you can visit a prop store. Unfortunately for me, in quiet Melbourne Florida special stores like these don’t exist.
I searched the net and didn’t find what I was looking for. I turned to a buddy that participates in Medieval reenactments. I told him what I was looking for and the following week we began shooting. This is how I got the shot.
Quick settings overview
- Nikon D700
- Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens
- Shot at
- 1/125 sec shutter
- ISO 200.
I knew I wanted a gritty 300 style look so I opted for harsh light.
- Using two strip banks and a beauty dish gave me the light I was looking for.
- Grids were added to the strip banks to focus the light and reduce light spill on the background.
- Adding a 1-stop diffusion panel on a Rapid Box beauty dish from Westcott to soften and spread the key light.
Light to subject distance was crucial to achieve a proper f-stop we were looking for. All three speed lights were set to 1/4 power and moved into position until our light meter read f/8.For this style of post-processing, keeping a consistent f/8 worked best.
Next, we took a few test shots focusing on posing and camera position. Once we felt comfortable we started ripping frames.
Up & Rolling
We broke the shoot down into a few sets. After each set of images, we stopped and reviewed the photos. We either accepted the set and moved on or made adjustments and re shot.
We realized early on images without full armor didn’t look as good as those with full armor. By tethering to a laptop, we caught potential mistakes.
Along the way I asked questions and started to build a story. The guys told me later how dead on I was with the story.
For the younger knight Brandon, I told him he’s a new knight, excited to go into battle. He feels confident. So confident he’s bordering on being overconfident. He’s putting his faith in his armor and he needs the latest and greatest armor to win battles.
The older knight Greg, has been in battle before. I told him to imagine he left the battlefield years ago. He put his armor away and took to a quiet life of farming. He’s entering the battlefield again because his King needs him. This time around, he has less armor and more skill. He knows exactly what he needs and doesn’t want to waste energy traveling with gear that will slow him down. He laughs at Brandon’s youth and inexperience.
During the shoot, I told them to act out the story. The guys did a great job! I find that giving my characters “stories” helps bring their emotions to life.
Enter the Fog
The very last part of the shoot, we used a fog machine. We back-lit the fog using a speed light and applied a blue gel. This was saved for the end of the shoot. Once you start a fog machine, it can take a long time to clear things out.
We wanted to make sure we got our safe shots out of the way first before we began to experiment, especially with fog. If we started with the fog concept, we would have only been able to snap a few shots until the fog filled the room. This would have caused a dull smoke cast on the knight. Once we had the shots we were looking for, we shot a few with just the fog. This gave us an option in post to be creative.
To finish the look, we ran an over-sharpening preset in Lightroom, highlighted parts of the scene using the adjustment brushes and cropped for impacted. The goal here was to really bring out the texture and details.
What Would I Do Differently?
Its always important to learn from each shoot. Here are a few things I would want to try or improve on for the next shoot:
- Shoot in a larger room or use our 18% grey walls as a background. I found myself fighting for a good position while I shot causing me not to shoot as much. Plus, I found it hard to try different poses. A larger room or maybe a 70-200mm lens would have helped.
- Develop several different poses, some fighting some ceremonial.
- Change the lighting for a group shot
- Add a Fair Maiden or a Queen in the scene.
Please leave comments below on this article and what you’d like to see in the future. Let me know if you’d like me to cover any other aspects of this (or future) shoots. Thanks for reading!
Currently he is teaching workshops, writing for Photofocus and creating tutorials for various plug-in companies and for the Vanelli and Friends series.
You can find out more about Vanelli at www.VanelliandFriends.com
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