Image Show “Bar Scene”

Final image- used one of my LR presets and Photoshop

Concept and Composition

This photo was taken at my mentoring workshop in San Francisco Chinatown. Whenever you mix high fashion with an interesting looking liquor bar, it always seems to work. I’m a sucker when I see glass filled with colored liquid. It always makes for a nice background especially if you add some light to it. Fashion ads are filled with images using two opposing yet complimentary models together. I call it the Ying-Yang effect. I figured if I combined all these elements- models and bar, it would look pretty darn compelling.

In regards to composition, I created a triangle with my subjects’ heads meeting at the top of the triangle and then their bodies forming the sides of the triangle. The space separating the two subjects creates a pleasing and flowing effect and it creates diagonals which contrast the vertical beams of the shelves displaying the liquor. It is always important when composing your subjects to make sure heads are not at the same level- place one higher than the other. I contend that stacking heads with one head on top of another in any way will almost always look good.


My initial set up was to have two side lights. I placed two Strobie 130s on each side of my subjects. After looking at the results, I thought it would add some drama to add red light by adding a red gel over my strobes that would not only light my subject but also spray on the unique ceiling pattern which was white and onto the liquor bottles. This would provide a night club feel with the colored light. Furthermore, when you have a lot of distracting elements in the background, if you shine colored light on it, the mono color effect tends to de-clutter the distracting elements by tying them together with a uniform color. One has to be careful using colored light on subjects because this will cause the skin to look discolored and unnatural. To remedy this I used my Killer Video Light with a color temperature of 5600K and shined this from above using my light stick. When using a light source mounted on a boom, we can get the light above the subjects and close without getting in the way of the photographer. I used my radio Tiny Triggers to fire flashes wireless- because it employs a radio signal, strobes can be triggered without a line of sight which is a major advantage over using the TTL system built into the camera and using expensive proprietary strobes.

Post Processing

My typical workflow is to import into Adobe Lightroom and then assign one of my SR LR presets to them. I love presets because compared to Photoshop actions, they are faster. I can see the final results of the preset in seconds verses running an action which may take minutes before I can see the effect. Of course Photoshop is very powerful and you can do more but to get a general idea on how you want to process an image, I like the speed of LR. So as I scroll through the hundred or so presets I custom designed, I finally stop on one that gives me the effect I want. I then fine tune the LR settings to my liking and then import into Photoshop to finish it off. In Photoshop I edit things like- fix skin, reduce hot spots, overlay a color over the entire image, add textures, etc. Below I will show the original image, LR editing and then the final editing done with Photoshop.

I really like the way this image turned out and is one of my favorite images, I hope I was able to give some insight on how I created it. Please share with me your thoughts!!

Original Image

SR Lightroom Preset

Final edit done in Photoshop

January 20, 2011 - 6:21 pm

jenny - I totally love the triangle composition!!!!! Thanks for sharing Scott!!!!

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