Light Painted Pin-Up at Classic Garage

I had the pleasure of trying out a new photography technique I’ve been wanting to play with.  I knew it had to have an almost surreal look to it, and a classic location was a must.  So the first step was to put together a team for creating this look.  Up came one of my favorite models for trying out new things – the infamous Amy Sherman! She’s modeled for me several times in the past and pulls off some amazing All-American pin-up looks.  She was the perfect model for this job.

Next, we sough out an epic location.  That’s where Brad from Classic Garage Automobile Restoration in Coeur D’Alene ID came in. He specializes in restoring old and classic vehicles.  His shop was large and featured a ton of classic cars for us to play with.  This guys seriously knows his stuff when it comes to classic cars.  We had a little bit of a late start as there were just so many cool, unique, and unusual things to look at. I felt like a kid in a candy shop.

BTS of Pin-Up Light Painting by Chris Wooley

This is what the light painting process looked like. My holding a boom with the gridded softbox attached.

We finally found the perfect place to shoot.  I loved the old Texaco sign and the shop from this angle.  The cars in various states of repair were also quite stunning.   I found the angle I wanted to shoot at and started setting up the equipment.  The camera was locked on a tripod (so the camera didn’t move during the process) and the zoom and focus were locked, too. Any movement of the camera would ruin the shot.

Classic Pin-Up Car Garage by Chris Wooley Spokane

Composite of 30 photographs of the shop. Each area was lit separately and then combined in post production.

Now for the process.  This is a modified version of light painting.  I set out to “paint” the background with a 24″ gridded softbox that was triggered wirelessly by the camera.  So the background and car were painted one flash at a time.  Overall, the shop composite was a total of about 30 images, each compiled together in photoshop.    Total shoot time was about 25 minutes to get everything painted.

Here is a picture of just the garage (without the model).  This is the final shop composite.

After the main shop was light painted, we could start photographing Amy on and around the car.  Because the background would be a composite, I didn’t have to worry much about any other lights besides those that were on Amy.  I used the same softbox that I did the light painting with as my main light.  I used the natural room ambiance for a fill light (there was a large garage door partway open behind me that let in lots of light).  I then used a gridded flash as a kicker/accent light.  This helped “pop” Amy from the background and give it a little bit more of a 3D effect in the final image.

The nice thing about this process is that we can try as many different poses and lighting styles as we like.  The final image will be composited into the “shop” scene with very simple masking (the background will look the same, so it is just minor masks in photoshop that separate the model from the background.

Here’s a look at three images dropped into the background.

Pin-Up in Shop

Amy in a swing dress on the car.

Classic Pin-Up by Chris Wooley Spokane

Brad from Classic Garage and Amy the Pin-Up Model

Classic Pin-Up by Chris Wooley Spokane

Amy in a Rockabilly outfit