Photoflex 7′ OctoDome Photoshoot Demostration

Posted by on Feb 15, 2017 in Behind the Scene, Gear Talk, Tutorials | No Comments


Anyone who works with a camera will tell you that setting up and capturing an image is a form of communication. A single picture or still frame, when done correctly, has the ability to tell a story. As a result, lighting becomes a crucial aspect of this storytelling. It sets the tone of an image and in advertising, the story or tone told by an image is everything.

The other day, I had the privilege of helping out a friend who owns a games facility used for team building exercises. They were looking for some promotional images that really communicated the energy of the space and showed the wide range of the activities they had to offer in a way that caught the eye and captured the imagination. I needed a light modifier that was able to help me better tell a story and that would contribute to executing the wide range of moods that I wanted to convey.

7′ OctoDome

The 7 foot OctoDome from Photoflex was the perfect modifier needed to achieve the different atmospheres and moods I wanted for this shoot. Photoflex is a company dedicated to providing the highest quality lighting equipment. It’s accessories and set-ups are top of the line, and they offer state-of-the-art technologies that help photographers capture that perfect image. With it’s unique, 8-sided shape and narrow profile, the OctoDome is one such technology as it’s designed to be the perfect key light and bathes facial features in bright, soft light. It’s internal baffle eliminates hot spots and it’s designed to give big box light spread in a space-saving soft box. It’s particularly effective when being used with the HalfDome and LightPanel, which were the other pieces of modifying equipment I brought with me for the shoot.

It’s easy for a single person to assemble and easy to set up. It’s dependable and versatile for creating the perfect image under different circumstances and in different environments to relay the exact mood and tone that I’m searching for. The OctoDome excelled at helping me communicate exactly what I wanted to say through the medium of my lens.


The First Setup

The First Setup

The first of the three set-ups was a white backdrop set up that’s often used for corporate or web-based photos. I used the OctoDome as a frontal key light to create a beautiful, even spread of light that was crucial to a clean bright background. In addition to the OctoDome, I used two Photoflex umbrellas to even out the white tone of the background.

Maggie Ng putting make-up on the models.

To capture the nature of the activities, I put the models in a colourful wardrobe that popped cleanly against the white background and helped show the energy and movement associated with the sports. The LitePanel was used in conjunction with the OctoDome to fill in the shadows and even out the image.

©2017 Clifton Li Photography


The Second Setup

The Second Setup

The second set-up set a much moodier and mysterious tone reminiscent of something out of a gritty action film. We changed the OctoDome from a frontal key light to a top light with the addition of a grid to create a harsher shadow. The black background, in combination with the addition of coloured gel added to the medium half-dome at the sides of the back light and the added haze, contributed to the more ‘dangerous’ vibe that would peak the viewers’ interest. I had originally attempted to add a grid to the half dome as well, however I found that the haze didn’t catch enough light due to a limited spread.

But it didn’t work as expected due to lack of light spread, the haze didn’t catch enough light, so I took them off. Sometimes it pays to step back and keep in mind the KISS method – Keep It Simple Stupid! The simpler set-up in this instance proved to be what we needed to give off that post-apocalyptical vibe I was searching for.

Another Perspective of the Second Setup

Models dressed in edgy black leather and with serious emotional expressions (I had told them to think of the hit book/movie series “The Hunger Games” while composing their facial expressions for this shot) completed the look, reflecting the blue edge light and popping their faces in the final image for a crisper look.

©2017 Clifton Li Photography


The Final Setup

The Third Setup

The final set-up, thanks to the good background and location, was the simplest to achieve. The beauty dish helped better define the background bricks and really accentuated the features of the
models, and the OctoDome helped fill in the shadows and lessen the contrast. Using a bare bulb backlight cut out the models from the background, adding depth to the image and making each model stand out.

Another Perspective of the Final Setup

The back light is the brightest part of the photo, and combined with the added shadow on the floor creating a natural vignette, the viewer’s eye is very effectively drawn to the middle of the shot, where the PVP logo is front-and center, surrounded by all the available activities at the facility – crucial to any high quality promo image. It was a fun, clean, even wholesome look that conveyed “fun” and “teamwork”.

©2017 Clifton Li Photography



In the end, both the client and I were thrilled with the images, none of which would have been fully realized without the help of the OctoDome, or any of the other Photoflex products that I used. The high standards they set for their products was totally evident, and their ease of use and the stunning final images have cemented their permanent place in my arsenal. I highly recommend that any photographer serious about their craft head over to their website and check out what they have to offer.

Clients and models reviewing the images.

I know that my upcoming projects, like this one will be all the more spectacular with Photoflex at my back.


Credits

Make-Up Artist: Maggie Ng
Assistant: Brian So

CIL Paint Ad – Penny Project with DDB Canada

Posted by on Sep 7, 2016 in Behind the Scene, Quick Preview | No Comments
Recently, I have been working on some incredible projects. I got this amazing opportunity to work with David Ross and Dean Hamann from DDB Canada to cooperate on an advertisement project for CIL Paint.

The print ad is meant to be a continuation of the TV commercial that was a huge success last year.

The ad concept was to photographically and digitally construct a penny where the Queen was putting on lipstick to show the affordability yet great quality of CIL paints – “Beauty on a small budget”.

Final Ad Layout

Final Ad Layout

I was so enthusiastic about the idea when it was presented to me that I started organizing the photoshoot the same night. Since Canadian pennies are no longer being circulated, it wasn’t easy to find a penny, especially not one that was perfect without any scratches. So I simply bought a collector’s penny that was in mint condition for ten dollars. It was definitely worth it, particularly if it meant that it would save editing time in post-production.

But searching for the coin was not the difficult part, it was imagining the Queen’s attire when she took the photo for the penny. I re-imagined the Queen with some added humor by hiring a curvier model to emphasize the sexiness of the act of applying lipstick.

©2016 Clifton Li

©2016 Clifton Li

For the photoshoot, I used a large Photoflex strobe softbox to give me consistent lighting and to match the lighting of the penny. Photoflex creates softboxes that have quick-release corners making them easy to set-up and tear-down. Their softboxes are made with a DuraCloth fabric that ensures colour neutrality, softened light, and prevents light leaks. The Queen’s image on the penny was softly and evenly lit, which will also make the retouching job a lot easier. The shadows were painstakingly matched to make the ‘Queen’ appear as realistic as possible.

The setup at the studio

The setup at the studio

Dress and the model

Dress and the model

Thank you to David for providing with me this wonderful and fun opportunity and to Photoflex for sponsoring the photoshoot.

Creative Project with Palettera and Ferris Wheel Press

Posted by on Jul 14, 2016 in Behind the Scene, Quick Preview | No Comments
In this blog post, I will be sharing with you my photographic process, from the drawing board to the finished product.

Deborah and Ray, the creative minds behind Palettera Custom Correspondences and good friends of mine, wanted to cooperate on a project that put all of our best talents forward. Palettera has become one of the best custom stationery design companies in the wedding industry and with good reasons. They are a Canadian company that promotes hand-craftsmanship, quality, and originality. They produce beautiful and unique wedding stationery designs in order to make each wedding feel one-of-a-kind. In light of their success, Deborah and Ray started a sister company called Ferris Wheel Press in recent years, which is operated by Ray’s brother, Jimmy.

Concept and Brainstorming

First and foremost, I started with planning out a concept. Since I was so fascinated by the immense quality of the designs, I decided I wanted to depict the illustrations coming to life. I began with meticulously going through their online portfolios to see if there were any pre-existing designs that would be most suitable for this concept. I came upon a card from the Goldfish series and felt it was the perfect candidate for this concept. I then drew a rough draft of my idea and afterwards I started scouting for my future team members.

The sketch used to present my Idea to the team.

The sketch used to present my Idea to the team.

The design that inspired my idea.

The design that inspired my idea.

The position of the fish that I want to recreate in black and gold.

The position of the fish that I want to recreate in black and gold.

Building the Team

Building the team is one of the most important steps because these are the people that will be helping to make the concept become a reality. I worked with the people from Palettera and Ferris Wheel Press in order to obtain the cards that I needed to shoot. They were very nice and created for me a black card with gold illustration to precisely match my concept. From the Plutino Group, I invited Jeanie Lee to be the prop stylist for the project. Jeanie was in charge of sourcing the live goldfish for the photoshoot and for creating the water splashes that would be included in the final shot.

Last but not least, Photoflex provided the light modifiers that helped to give the photoshoot that magic touch and helped to bring everything to life, particularly the goldfish.

Goldfish options from Jeanie.

Goldfish options from Jeanie.

Prop ideas.

Prop ideas.

Shooting the Card

Prior to photographing the goldfish and the water splashes, the card had to be shot. This was done in advance so that I could have time to edit the image in Photoshop. I removed the text that was originally on the card and the placement of the fish had to be altered slightly. The position of the goldfish had to be exact so that the editing of the real goldfish could be seamlessly done so afterwards. I modified the placement of the fish by combining a few images together, however, I had to ensure that the reflection of the light hitting the gold letterpress was consistent throughout the images – this was difficult.

Custom created card.

Custom created card.

Shooting the Fish and Splashes

Once we had the image of the card, then we knew exactly how we needed to position the real goldfish in the photoshoot. This step was the most challenging since they are real fish, they are unpredictable, uncontrollable, and most of all, harm-able – and we didn’t want to harm them. We gently played with them for two hours and after an entire two hours, we only had one usable frame! It’s important to say that no goldfish were mistreated during the photoshoot or play.

We were working hard to push the goldfish to move the way we want.

We were working hard to push the goldfish to move the way we want.

The next piece of the puzzle was to get a good image of the water splashing, the bubbles, and the waves. We kept playing with the water until we captured the perfect shot. We used the Broncolor Scoro in combination with the Photoflex Softbox in order to freeze the movements of the goldfish and the water. This combination gave a brilliant and even light to the scene. While the strobes were quite far away, the Scoro had a 3200-watt power, which gave me just enough light for the depth of field I needed.

About to create bubbles.

About to create bubbles.

Post-Processing

Finally, the post-production work! It was really fun to pick from a variety of splash and bubble images to see which one would work best with the composite image. I photographed all the images against a black background since I knew the final image would have a black background as well. This strategy also helped to save a significant amount of time cropping the bubbles out from the background.

I am incredibly satisfied with the end result and so impressed with everyone’s hard work and contribution. Thanks to Jeanie’s expert skill in handling the fish and creating the water splashes. The photoshoot was much shorter than we all predicted. This project was a great addition to my portfolio since I had no animal-related shoots prior to this and it demonstrated my ability to create the perfect composite image.

The final composition!

The final composition!

Social Media Campaign with Baroque BBQ and DDB Canada

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Quick Preview | No Comments
Summertime is here and that means it’s ribs and barbecue season. Barque BBQ on Roncesvalles Avenue here in Toronto has one of the city’s best smokehouse meats.

Barque BBQ Poster 1

Kyle Waye, who is a junior copywriter at DDB Canada recently contacted me to work on a social media campaign for Barque BBQ. It was the perfect way to prepare myself for the summer season and they had a hilarious concept, so of course I said yes!

The campaign was to promote all-you-can-eat wings on Thursday nights but I feel it’s much more far-reaching than that. It’s an amazing ad in general. Barque and DDB Canada wanted to replicate classic maternity photographs to show off the ‘food baby’ after an all-you-can-eat wings night. We hired a fabulous talent who was very proud of his wonderfully round belly and played the part excellently. A second talent was also brought onto to the shoot to embrace the expecting dad to further exaggerate the feeling of a family portrait. I decided to use a lighting style that would best reflect typical family portraiture, simple, soft, and even.


Kyle making his select with Mood board.

Kyle making his select with Mood board.

Although the shoot was only three hours long, Barque was kind enough to provide catering for the whole crew. The social media campaign is published on Instagram and various other platforms.


Food sponsored by Baroque BBQ.

Food sponsored by Baroque BBQ.

Kyle is doing his magic with the talent.

Kyle is doing his magic with the talent.

IMG_3843



Thank you to Kyle and Barque BBQ for this opportunity and I’d like to confirm that the food is incredible and is definitely worth having a food baby for.

Barque_Print.indd

Barque SocialC

Joanna Makomaski for Risk and Insurance Magazine

Posted by on Jun 2, 2016 in Behind the Scene, Quick Preview | No Comments
Cover of Risk & Insurance Magazine - June 2016 Issue

Cover of Risk & Insurance Magazine – June 2016 Issue

It’s been a while since I last updated my blog but I have been working on some incredible projects. I was extremely enthusiastic to have been contacted by the US based publication, Risk and Insurance Magazine, to photograph the cover for their June 2016 issue. Anne Freedman’s article “The Upside of Risk” talks about the advantages of employing risk managers in organizations with a focus on Joanna Makomaski, president of the Baldwin Global Risk Solutions Inc. Joanna Makomaski is an internationally recognized specialist in enterprise risk management. She recently won the Institute of Risk Management’s prominent Risk Management Professional of the Year award during a 2016 ceremony held in London, England. She also acted as the Vice President of Enterprise Risk Management in the organizing committee for Toronto’s 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games.

Cover Story, P22-23 of June 2016 Issue

Cover Story, P22-23 of June 2016 Issue

Since this was my first US magazine cover, I wanted to particularly demonstrate my skills as a photographer and provide superb quality. I chose to do Joanna’s photoshoot with a Hasselblad H5D – a medium format camera that offers 50 megapixels, incredible sharpness, and colour. And the results were phenomenal. The Hasselblad captured fantastic detail in her hair and clothes. The photoshoot was set in a lavish condo’s party room in downtown Toronto, which had wonderful black and white paisley walls and an enormous window offering tons of natural light.

Me with Hasselblad H5D-50

Me with Hasselblad H5D-50

Phocus Software

Phocus Software

Maggie Ng doing her magic.

Maggie Ng doing her magic.

Thank you to Sue Casper, who was the editor and art director for this project, to Maggie Ng, who was the make-up artist, and to Joanna.


©2016 Clifton Li Photography

©2016 Clifton Li Photography

Glen Griffiths for Dockside Magazine

Posted by on Aug 26, 2015 in Quick Preview | No Comments
Cover of Dockside Muskoka Summer/Fall 2015 Issue

Cover of Dockside Muskoka Summer/Fall 2015 Issue

I was presented with the fantastic opportunity to photograph for Dockside Magazine over the summer. Dockside is a publication that is independently owned and specializes in presenting Muskoka’s best businesses. Featuring interesting articles on cottage life and the outdoors, each issue is hand-delivered to Muskoka’s largest lakes.

The story I shot was about Glen Griffiths, who is the founder of My Outdoor Kitchen. Glen creates incredible outdoor kitchens that are extremely customizable and are convenient to use when entertaining guests. The photoshoot took place on a tremendously hot and sunny day, which made everyone sweat profusely. The glaring sun also made it difficult for Glen to keep his eyes open for a long period of time and I had to set my strobes to full blast to compete with the sun and fill in the shadows.

Fortunately, the shoot went very well and only needed to last for an hour and a half. Be sure to keep an eye out for Glen’s story, which will be featured in the Dockside Muskoka Summer/Fall 2015 issue.

Page 29 of Dockside Muskoka Summer/Fall 2015

Page 29 of Dockside Muskoka Summer/Fall 2015

©2015 Clifton Li Photography

©2015 Clifton Li Photography

Ian Ball for Ryerson Magazine

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Behind the Scene, Meet the Famous | No Comments
They say opportunities present themselves when you least expect it. But what I believe is that through ambition and hard work you can take charge of creating your own opportunities.

Cover of Ryerson Magazine Summer 2014

Cover of Ryerson Magazine Summer 2014

I was given the fantastic opportunity to photograph Ian Ball, who was the preseident of McEwen Mining at the time of the photoshoot, for Ryerson Magazine. Ball admits he was never the perfect student in high school but decided that that needed to change during his time at Ryerson University. I was only given 30 minutes of face time with the “golden boy of mining” and I was anxious to say the least. The shortness of time was a first for me but I was prepared and already had a vision in mind.

I wanted to create an image that reflected Ian as an individual and that would also illustrate his new position within the metal industry. I decided on an aesthetic that was slightly darker, that had a medium contrast, and was dramatic, and that it would be reminiscent of not just the metal industry but also mines themselves.

Ryerson Magazine Summer 2014 P.28

Ryerson Magazine Summer 2014 P.28

©2014 Clifton Li Photography

©2014 Clifton Li Photography

I used a beauty dish as my main light, giving my subject a beautiful, even glow, while the Photoflex medium strip box was used as a backlight, offering a nice edge light. Keeping the grid on the Photoflex prevented light from spilling onto the background, maintaining the moody atmosphere. Although the time allotted only allowed for one lighting setup, the shoot was surprisingly completed with 5 minutes to spare!

Behind the Scene

Behind the Scene

The photoshoot was a great success and Ian was more than pleased. Each person on the team received a McEwen silver coin as a memento to keep (or to auction off to the highest bidder). I especially thank Wendy and Colleen for the wonderful opportunity and art direction.

McEWEN Silver Coin

McEWEN Silver Coin

National Advertising Awards Collaboration

Posted by on May 25, 2014 in Meet the Famous, Quick Preview | One Comment
I am a believer in constantly challenging yourself. In pushing those boundaries, to be that extra bit better than you once were. To learn new things and have new experiences.

I had the opportunity for one such experience when I teamed up with Allen from Y+R and Elizabeth from Leo Burnett to try our hand at the National Advertising Awards. The NAA are all about challenge, the challenge of competition and challenging the status quo. But at the heart of it, they are about innovation and creation.

NAA 2014 Award Entry

NAA 2014 Award Entry

To be able to work on this project was an honor and a privilege, and to everyone who took part, thank you so much. We could not have done this without you. In the photographic industry, and in fact, in most industries, you are ruled by deadlines. The NAA are no different. All entrants are given a month to complete their work, but we started the project with just five days until the deadline for submission. It took some team work, and a lot of caffeine, but we made it through.

The shoot went fantastically. We finished in only 6 hours, a time that, Allen commented, was one of the shortest shoots he’s been on. Despite our best efforts, we were not nominated for an award. However, the category we submitted for, “Crystal Light” did not have a winner, so perhaps we were all just too good. In the end, we are proud of what we produced. Not only did we create a beautiful image, but we also formed new friendships.

Lastly, special thanks to Andrew Hiorth for letting us use his studio, and Thomas D. for digital enhancement.

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