Pilates studio still photo shoot

In a previous post I described a web video and still shoot at the Marathon Pilates Studio with Anissa Pollard, the client, and Karen Cronin of Cronin Creative, who is creating the new website for Anissa.

Anissa was thrilled with the video and the still photography, so last week we returned to the studio to shoot a few more stills. My Scottish blood made me keep the 1000H diffusion paper for the front doors from the last shoot, so rehanging it was a snap. Tests had shown me that diffusion was needed to unify the graphic look of the background, since the sun didn’t quite make it to that set of glass doors, and toward the end of the afternoon, I had to put a light outside them to burn out any detail from creeping shadows.

Since I shoot almost everything with speedlights now, it was quick and simple to set up three lights for the main angle: two edge lights and a key into an umbrella. I use a powerpack from Pixel (Amazon) for each flash that runs eight Eneloop rechargeable AA batteries in addition to the four already in the flash head. I’ve gotten hundreds of flashes from a single set of batteries with no variation in output.

Here’s how the pictures turned out:

_MG_9131_Anissa_teaching_ _MG_9162_Stephanie_teaching

it was important to all of us that we show the studio being popular and full, so stacking up the main subjects with foreground and background action was how I choose to set it up. The room was long and narrow, too, limiting choices. But it was the fact that the doors and glass block entrance were the only the only elements the room had that could be leveraged to create visual interest that pushed the decision. A light, airy mood could be created with that background and high-key lighting — very different from the room unlit:


Shot with my Canon 6D and 70-200 t/4 lens at around 100-124mm, Anissa, Stephanie, and Claire were great, unflagging models. Along with two headshots and two more action shots, we wrapped the photography shoot in 3.5 hours, plenty of time left to enjoy the rest of the first Spring day. Thanks, Anissa!


Shooting a 2 hour DVD in under 12 hours

The above clip is only the open for the teaser. The full teaser is at the bottom of the post.


Last year I produced a DVD for cheese-making master Paula Butler. Paula’s workshops are attended by people from around the globe, and she has won so many awards for her cheeses she decided a DVD would be the be the best way to share her knowledge.

We decided to shoot the two hour (!) DVD in the kitchen on her farm (Standing Stone Farms, in Hendersonville, TN) where she lives with her husband and about twenty goats she raises for milk. This not only saved her money, but more important, it kept her in a location that was comfortable for her, since this is where she holds her workshops as well.

This had to be a one day shoot. That’s all the budget could handle. So I had worked up a schedule for the day that got us in and out in twelve hours. How do you shoot a two hour video in under twelve hours (deducting set-up and wrap time of two and a half hours)? Lots of cameras!

We had four cameras running on Paula at all times. Camera one — straight on, wide, covering her and the workspace. She would be talking to this one. Camera two — a medium shot from the left of camera one for cutaways. Camera three — to the left of cam two, and moving almost all the time on a slider, shifting from any important business on the work surface to Paula’s face. And of course — the overhead of the work area, a view which also shot into the large pots Paula often worked with — camera four. We rigged it on the overhead pot rack:

Yes that pot rack became the built-in grid on which we hung cam 4, our key lite    ( 2×4 kino with diffusion and 1/8 minus green, and a little bounce lite to bring up the BG and light Paula when she went back to the sink once or twice. Thank you, pot rack.

For the pot rack nerds here ( stand proud) here’s a CU:

After a slow start, we got rolling and Paula got into her groove and just got better. She talked about cheese for up to 45 minutes straight without a hitch. And if she had stumbled, we would simply pick it up and get rolling again, using one of the cutaway shots to bridge the stumble. We caught up with the schedule by lunch.

_MG_9346Derek, Sarah, Paula, John

There were six recipes and a few short interstitials about presentation and condiments. Besides me, the crew consisted of Derek, DP, John, 2nd cam operator, and Sarah, who kept a very detailed shooting log for me and the editor’s use later. When shooting something of this complexity, a shooting log is indispensible in the edit room. We used a simple form I made in Word years ago:

   Rob Lindsay Pictures     Date:                                       Script Notes Page #:

Production Title:                                        Format:

Scene #            Take #                       TC in               TC out                             Remarks

There are vertical lines below this in which information about each take is entered. A thick red horizontal line marks the start of each new scene, or in this case, recipe or interstitial. The remarks can be from the director (best, good start, etc.) or the script person re: anything special or important about that take the editor should know. Script notes: don’t leave the shoot without ’em!

While Derek and John ran two of the cameras, I watched the monitor and Paula:


The shoot was strictly scheduled and we got outside on time to shoot the open with Paula and a few of her favorite goats, which seemed to want to eat most of our gear.

The edit was spread across two months with frequent gaps but a looming deadline to get 5000 DVD’s made and delivered for December’s sales season. I would estimate the editor spent about 30 hours on it, including color correction. I was there to get it going, and came back at critical times. He also Dropboxed scenes to me and Paula for notes.

Did I mention she has sold over 3200 DVD’s so far?

Go, Paula!

Cheese Plate_edited_master