Sunday, 10 January 2010

Photoshoot for Christmas 2010 marketing

Bressingham's Snow Queen (taken on previous visit)
After my first Christmas visit I knew that I could achieve some much better images with the use of flash lighting. In my mind's eye I pictured the Snow Queen in her sleigh with the background washed in blue light to give the image a cold tone. Given the very low light levels inside it would be virtually impossible to shoot the Snow Queen without the use of flash. The image here was taken on that visit and was the sort of style that I wanted to achieve today.

Studio flash would mean light stands, expensive flash heads and trailing cables - not something that I could set up during public opening, so on my previous visit I had asked Christine the Duty Manager (and Snow Queen) when everything would be taken down to see if there was a window of opportunity to do a photoshoot. Fortunately Christine and some others were scheduled to do some trackwork on Sunday 10th ahead of the displays being dismantled on Monday, and she was happy to don her costume again especially for me.

One of my two impromptu models
Well, that was the plan. Thanks to the continuing cold weather the planned trackwork was cancelled and Christine did not come in. Not to be dissuaded I invoked Plan B and we popped next door to Blooms Garden Centre and asked a suitable family if they would like to stand in. Many thanks to the family for their assistance at such short notice and I hope that you enjoy visiting Bressingham throughout the coming year.

Lighting setup
For the technically minded here is a setup shot of the lighting and a list of equipment: Elinchrom BX400 fitted with 100x70cm softbox (left), Elinchrom BX400 fired through a translucent white umbrella (middle), Elinchrom Classic 500 with 21cm reflector and LEE 118 and 144 coloured gels (background).

A glimpse through Santa's window
The other scene that I knew I wanted to do something with was Santa's Grotto. Although I wouldn't be able to get Santa in the image (this year) I couldn't let all the hard work in constructing the grotto pass without trying to capture it. Whilst the family in front of you are seeing Santa, your children get a taste of the magic by peeping through Santa's window - so I wanted to recreate this feeling of a snatched glimpse into Santa's front room. With the fireplace dominating the room I wanted to depict the scene as warm and inviting, so I used a flash with yellow and orange gels to light the room from inside creating a warm glow. From outside I shot another flash through the white umbrella to light the wall and window giving a balance between inside and outside, and then dragged the shutter way down to burn in the coals of the fire. The result is I hope a warm and inviting glance into Santa's front room.

Santa's Grotto
With the "outside looking in" shot created, the next task was to capture Santa's Grotto from within. As much as I wanted Santa sitting in his rocking chair it simply wasn't going to happen (this time), so I decided to include the empty rocking chair to lend a sense of expectation. I fired the gelled flash through the window from the outside this time and dragged the shutter down to burn in the ambient light. The intention here was to use the burst of flash to create a sense of warmth and cosiness again.

Toy & Model shop, Walmington on Sea
With three scenes done I loaded the kit back into the car and set about shooting some more of the Christmas lights. Being empty meant that I could get some angles that I couldn't when it was open.

With some advance planning, I hope that towards the end of this year I can achieve another series of shots, this time including Santa. When I joined as a volunteer at the very end of November, all of the staff were very busy working towards the Christmas 2009 event which was opening in five days' time, so accommodating me at the last minute wasn't practical.

Given the weeks of effort that go into Bressingham's Christmas events (preparations start once the season ends in October), it seems a shame that at least some of this effort isn't captured for posterity and well as for future marketing, so I am glad to have helped where I could.

What can I turn my hand to next? Ahead of February's half term week opening there's plenty of trackwork to be done, and I'm sure that there's still a lot of work still to do on The Gallopers before the 2010 season kicks off proper on 27th March. Whatever I help with I am certain that it will be something different for me and that I'll make some new friends.

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