Constructing a Runway Set

Every sense Jim, published his article on Shooting in Small Spaces, we have had several letters requesting more. I’m personally a studio snob. I love large rooms with high ceilings, but occasionally I am forced to shoot in smaller rooms myself. One winter I was driven out of my studio by some construction in an adjacent unit and forced to shoot in my living room for several months. I thought this might go well with the small studio subject.

A lot of you have been asking about my runway work and how to approach the fashion world about shooting on their runways. I’m thrilled you like my Runway work and the girls will be too!  To be quite honest, the Runway was an accident, an optical illusion. I had a shoot I had hoped to rush through a couple of looks, so I setup two shots in advance.

I started off with a ¼” x 4’ x 8’ panel from the Home Depot. I laid it on the floor, overlapping the backdrop by approximately 2 feet and proceeding off the backdrop into the room.  I taped a 3’ wide piece of silver window insulation to the center of the white panel.  I had intended to use the ripple, reflective effect for an art shot and then remove it for my second look.

Once I was happy with the light, I showed my model the image on the cameras LCD. She went crazy, exclaiming it looked much better than any of her runway shots in her port. To add the final touch I moved the backdrop strobes in a bit, so that they would be included in the shot.

To enhance the elevated illusion, even more I added a graduate (black/clear) shadow effect to each side of my white panel board in Photoshop. That was the only Photoshop required :)

The reflective window film has long sense worn out. I was not as happy with it as I am the carpet remnant that I am using now.  My next project will be to line the edges of my runway with white Christmas tree lights..  Be creative and have fun!!

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    • Exactly Chris,
      That is probably why I did not include my setting on this tutorial. I haven’t gone back and read many of these tutorials in sometime. But I believe I do not include “exact exposure data” on any shot. I may hint around from time to time too give starting points, but there are way to many variables involved to just start copy/pasting my aperture/ISO/Shutter settings.. As a quick example. I was shooting at f-8 in my living room. The ceilings are at 7’8″ and painted white. I tend to get a lot of ceiling reflection, especially with taller subjects. My main studio has unfinished plywood ceilings at 16 feet. I do not tend to see reflections off it at all… There are other variables as well, Personal taste: I have a good friend who prefers to wide open at f-2.8 or larger if when possible.

      My lighting setup advice is this: Buy the very best lights you can afford and be real. Then the best flash meter you can afford!

      I have a good friend who harasses me all the time over this. He could only afford a cheap eBay 3 light set for $250. He did not buy a flash meter, he uses his histogram in the camera. I believe he is using a Canon 7D, but that’s irreverent, they all have histograms and that can work with degrees of success.
      So his cheapie set will not put out consistent light. I saw it very as much as 4 full stops…. Junk… Sometimes the white balance is off, usually the output varies and I should add Greatly… He still feels he should be able to achieve the same results I do with my AB1600’s – or my lighting guru gets with his 2000watt Normans… I finally told him you cannot compare a Cadillac with a skateboard…. Hey, they both have 4 wheels and room for a passenger. You get what you pay for!!!

      I own 6, Alien Bees 1600’s and I love them! I bought a Dynalight 3 head rig, right out of college and it lasted 30 years of moderately heavy use. It never failed me, well, until I blew it up shooting too fast for too long. LOL I have used Normans, Speedtrons, Broncolor and they are all excellent systems. I HIGHLY Recommend them all. Alien Bees 1600’s are the least expensive strobes I recommend. Period..

    • Hi Tim,
      I generally shoot between f-8 to f-11 at ISO 100 (always) depending on the mood I am hoping too achieve. This is the sharpest area of my favorite lens and where I obtain the very best results. Because of an “issue” with my camera I shoot at a shutter speed of 125th of a second.

      In these particular examples my main was f-8, (a 22″ beauty dish) my hair light has f-11 and gridded with a 10 degree grid. My fill light was f-5.6 (a 9″X 34″ stripbox)
      Hope this helps

  3. Olli Warelius says:

    I think other web site proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and great user friendly style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert at this stuff!

  4. Fulgenzio Siciliano says:

    Hello there! you make this look so simple Dave. This is an awesome site and I love your writing and photography. cheers

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