This Finn O'Hara Shoot Probably will not Fit in the Conference Room.

[UPDATE]: Finn answered a couple of Q's from the comments. First, no Zamboni because of all of the wires. It just was not practical. Nor were other more manual methods of smoothing the ice.

And those of you who suspected another concurrent shoot were dead on. Video was happening on the other side of the black drapes. So, for all of the insane production, it was actually a pretty economical allocation of resources -- all things considered.

Holy crap.

I am at a loss for words after looking at the scale of production involved in this Finn O'Hara shoot of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

You see work by guys like this all of the time, but you rarely get a good look behind the scenes. And granted, he did end up shooting 53 (correction, 35) people. So when you amortize out a "civic works"-size set, it actually starts to make sense.

But still. Just … wow.

[UPATE, 10/4/10 -- Check out Finn's blog for lots more pics from this shoot.]



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Blogger Kevin said...

I'd expect nothing less from a Canuck :)

This may be an naive question, but why go to the efforts of creating the backdrop practically (with physical materials), instead of compositing the player and backdrop afterwards?

November 04, 2009 12:10 AM  
Blogger Ian Paterson said...

Pretty standard corporate entertainment setup, not seeing anything too unusual.

November 04, 2009 12:17 AM  
Blogger Phat Baby Photographer said...

Yeah, that's slightly more complex than my typical two light setup, but still easier then dealing with a fussy toddler :)

November 04, 2009 12:30 AM  
Blogger sohil said...

Sadly, those pics do not do any justice to that kind of production. Cost aside, the subjects seem so bored and uninteresting.

I have no doubt a seasoned strobist could have done it as well, if not better.

November 04, 2009 1:01 AM  
Blogger Ed Verosky said...

I wonder if this could have been done with a background projection rather than a complete build-out?

November 04, 2009 1:03 AM  
Blogger Ameed said...

The result for sure is amazing, thanks for sharing ..
P.S, The song in this clip really sucks.

November 04, 2009 1:04 AM  
Blogger swamptech said...

Sick post!
little long. but pretty neat!
great results.

November 04, 2009 1:14 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

D40x and an SB600? That would be a foolish question. So how do I do this with a D700 and 2 SB900s? I kid, I kid.

November 04, 2009 1:18 AM  
Blogger Jane said...

All that work with preparation and then leave out the Zamboni to smoothe up the ice for the shoot?
The ice in the pictures look awful.

November 04, 2009 1:34 AM  
Blogger KevinKevin said...

The results are nice, very nice. I see at least 6 people in the video, and it probably took several hours. On the other hand, what do you gain by doing all of this work vs. 1 photographer, 1 simple white backdrop + Photoshop + a few hours on the computer? Yes we're talking about editing 53 people, but once you get the workflow going in Photoshop, it's pretty fast.

November 04, 2009 1:57 AM  
Blogger K Brown said...

Just a tad overdone....perhaps?

There are easier ways to get the same results, "probably" a little more economical too.

November 04, 2009 1:57 AM  
Blogger Q-Czar said...

Actually, the video says 35 people were photographed :)

Cool nonetheless! The photos look good. Only thing I would have done differently then the photographer was had a different colour backdrop as to help separate the players from it.

November 04, 2009 2:51 AM  
Blogger Swordtail said...

way too elborate. 5 speedlites could have done it!

November 04, 2009 2:58 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

WOW! Again!

When I read the title and saw the set, I thought "I'll look forward to see if what he achieves out of this huge production is also achievable with my limited resources and photoShop!"

Well at the end I think it is achievable on the cheap, so I feel better, But I wish I could get paid for such a project!

I strive for that!

November 04, 2009 3:12 AM  
Blogger Benji said...

awesome. just awesome. wonder what the production budget of this was though...

November 04, 2009 3:16 AM  
Blogger Norton Zanini said...

You Can't do that with one sb-600 son. are you Kidding me!!? You'll need 5 and a tripod.

November 04, 2009 3:34 AM  
Blogger JWS said...

Impressive setup, but I have to say the end result with the heavily shadowed eyes doesn't impress me much.

November 04, 2009 3:49 AM  
Blogger Jon H said...

Anyway a speedlight can get this team a win?

November 04, 2009 4:08 AM  
Blogger djaef said...

OK, so how do I do this with a 5D, three PWs and a 580EX and an SB26? ;)

November 04, 2009 4:28 AM  
Blogger djaef said...

Wow, I see what you mean. But it was only 35 players. So now can I bring out my SB26 and gel pack?

November 04, 2009 4:48 AM  
Blogger Street said...

How cool!

I wonder how large the budget was on this, there are a significant number of people working to set thig gigantic thing up. Not to mention later when they have to tear it down....

So. How can i do this ona D40X + Sb600 on a DIY budget? ;)


November 04, 2009 5:30 AM  
Blogger Stephen23 said...

er..ummm nice exercise in manpower which is no bad thing in these recessionist days, but has anyone heard of green screen and er...ummm photoshop?

November 04, 2009 5:36 AM  
OpenID r0me0red said...

I don't mean to devalue the production at all, but to me, it seems a bit like overkill to me. I mean, wouldn't this photographer save a whooooollle lot of money by shooting the players on seamless and making the background in post then compositing them in?

And how do I do this with a D40x and an sb 600???

November 04, 2009 5:38 AM  
Blogger Rockhopper said...

good shoot, however you have demonstrated that you can get images as good as this on a simple set up,

Always look for a background that you can photograph that will stand out on its own.

look round the factory, grounds, stadium for a background that supports the model job,hobby occupation.

Shoot with a long lens to compress background voila a great image.

You dont need vast production budget to do great photography.

A large blank wall with a logo projected on it could have been just as good.

Love the time lapse though,

Cheers Dave for posting,


November 04, 2009 6:25 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

the amount of time spent on the MAPLE LEAF alone. wouldn't it be easier to just project the backgroung :)

November 04, 2009 6:56 AM  
Blogger Nald said...

wow indeed on the production used. but the background can easily be done in photoshop...

November 04, 2009 6:59 AM  
Blogger Cati said...

Amazingly huge. And don't worry, I'm not pretending I can do that with my D70 + SB600. At all. Mostly because I think my head would explode if I had to direct a shot like this.
I'm still reading through Lighting 101 :D

November 04, 2009 7:01 AM  
Blogger craig said...

So how do I do this with a D40x and some vivitar 285s????? I'm to cheap for a SB-600. Crazy set up time. Outcome looked great.

November 04, 2009 7:16 AM  
Blogger A. Schaef said...

Okay, how about a D40 and TWO Sb-600s?

November 04, 2009 7:27 AM  
Blogger David said...

FWIW, that song's been stuck in my head since I saw the video. Love it.

November 04, 2009 7:52 AM  
Blogger e.e.nixon said...

Is it just me? These Vimeo (and increasingly YouTube) clips are terrible to watch because of the jitter and jump. I gather there may be an issue because they are HD? Why anyone would think high definition is value added on the web, seen via a computer monitor or a mobile phone is a large perplexing problem to me -- particularly embedded in another page.

Wouldn't it be better to post a standard definition version for the rest of us, a la Stobist ideology, and offer the option of going HD via a button or a jump to another site? If people are soliciting your band width for promoting their work, you do have a bit of leverage in asking for the format of content that's best for the most subscribers.

Thanks for thinking about this.


November 04, 2009 8:21 AM  
Blogger Matt Wynne said...

Where did you find this? Great post, It is nice to see that some people out there are still willing to pay for a production. For all those that think photoshop would have been the simple answer, try doing it....this one def needed to be built. Thanks for the post.

Boston Photographer | MWynne

November 04, 2009 8:22 AM  
Blogger ty said...

wouldn't it be cheaper to Photoshop that background.

November 04, 2009 8:41 AM  
Blogger JS said...

Finn, thanks so much for the behind the scenes timelapse.

See what happens when you graciously let people peek behind the curtain? "Why did you do this? Why didn't you do that? Haven't you ever heard of chromakey laser cartography with a Lightroom faux tilt-shift HDR action?"

Take it in stride, brother. That's what the Leafs would do.

November 04, 2009 9:05 AM  
Blogger aaronactive said...

I don't think you could get it as epic any other way. Theres just something grand about it all when you see the images at the end..has good impact I think which gives you the sense of scale.

Yes, you could have done it 'cheaper'..but I think if we saw the full res images we'd know why it done the way it was.po

November 04, 2009 9:06 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

Considering the Leafs have only one a single game this year, this is a real win for them.

Wicked shoot.

November 04, 2009 9:10 AM  
Blogger fpajonk said...

Looks to me that someone has to employ lots of people. Not matter what.

Strobist kind of make think a little too critical about the work of other, I guess.

Would be a cool assignment to reproduce the shot as a composite. Black backdrop and 3 white cardboards, scissors, and you should be in the game.

November 04, 2009 9:14 AM  
Blogger ClovenLife said...

I'm just impressed that he found that large of a crew who could work in ice skates

November 04, 2009 9:31 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

i agree that this is a bit overdone. the maple leaf part aside, the shots turned out nicely for sure. i disagree with sohil that to the subjects "seem so bored and unininteresting." these are hockey players. it's their job to look intimidating and not smile.

November 04, 2009 9:50 AM  
Blogger Patrick Blake said...

Just imagine what kind of setup a team with more than 1 win could come up with!

Go Sens!

Oh yeah, the set-up was cool, too :)

November 04, 2009 10:38 AM  
Blogger heidi said...

Way over the top, as noted before this could have been done just as well with high quality studio shots of the subjects and compositing in the (many varied hues and coloured)background.
Excessive waste of money. (for the most part)

November 04, 2009 10:45 AM  
Blogger kracker said...

I share the views of a lot of the above comments and can't see the point of all the set-up for the end result. Admittedly his pictures are very good, but I think Finn O'Hara could have achieved an identical result with just the maple leaf backdrop and three strobes.
As an experiment, I threw together a composite picture using an existing photo taken with two strobes and a clipart backdrop processed in PS:

Not a great picture, but it only took 45 minutes and no money!

Not commented before, but I love your site David.

November 04, 2009 10:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

Welcome to Day here in the Strobist comments section...

November 04, 2009 11:24 AM  
Blogger Lyndon said...

Great photos and amazing production! I like the idea of doing it big as opposed to creating the look in Photoshop.

Now if only the Leafs could win some games! I think they're 1-7 for the season and in the basement of the Northeast division....

November 04, 2009 11:51 AM  
Blogger Sodabowski said...

Yeah, I can do that with my 400D, ebay remotes, SB-28, and Photoshop 7 copy. And a little Cinema4D to create the background. Three days work for 1 guy, no coffee needed (milk please).

I mean, seriously.

November 04, 2009 12:04 PM  
Blogger David said...

Ha. Bill Millios calls out the poo-poo'ers:

November 04, 2009 12:14 PM  
Blogger Keith said...

Something that is getting overlooked here is when someone hires a pro because the pro has the experience, the big name, etc.. the one who hired them will be looking for proof of their big name and big experience. If this guy showed up with 5 speedlights, some white paper, and no assistants.. they probably would have asked for his id because they wouldn't believe it's really who they hired for $$$.

Goes to show, that even when you are your own boss, you still gotta play the games.

November 04, 2009 12:33 PM  
Blogger RD said...

First, working with photoshop is super duper boring compared to making a real life set!

Second, I don't think it would look as good if you had to do 35 shots in 24 hours.

Third, I agree about the poses, some hard stops with flying ice or some slapshots would have been great, but maybe they did all those kinds of shots with a different setup.

November 04, 2009 12:34 PM  
Blogger captaindash said...

Of course it could be done for cheaper, but you have to justify your expenses. If you average 25% profits from your shoots, you want 25% of the biggest total you can. It's just like unions and corporate budgeting in general; it's all about spending every dime you get in your budget so you can ask for at least as much next time. Kudos to him for 'getting away with it'. I'd do it too, in a heartbeat. Think how fun that would be. And to all the people who say he should've photoshopped it: would you have said no to the opportunity to put on the production?

November 04, 2009 12:49 PM  
Blogger George said...

All that work for a crappy last place hockey team...

November 04, 2009 1:16 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

I'm amused, even shocked at some of the comments by people. I'm slightly surprised I haven't read: "Why couldn't you just do that in miniature?" or "Could I do this with my Kodak single use camera?"

Who cares how they did it. It was an impressive setup regardless. The pictures are great and I'm sure the video does them no justice. And you would do the same thing if you had that option. (Why go small when you have access to the money and means to go over the top?)

November 04, 2009 1:21 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

anyone know what software is being used here to stitch the stills together into the time lapse?

seems easy to switch up the tempo...

November 04, 2009 1:22 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

You could just as easily use a green screen for that maple leaf background. Or as others have mentioned, a simple projection. I really think it was overkill for the number of people required to set all of that up.

November 04, 2009 1:33 PM  
Blogger Pat Morrissey said...

How come those little guys move so fast? Is they on ice-skates?

November 04, 2009 2:12 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

A production of that size insures no mistakes and no extra Photoshop time - -fixing pictures.

The scale of the backdrop frees the photographer's field of view. Close-ups, long shots, video (for web and TV) can all be captured at one time.
I've never been blessed with an assignment like that, but that's how I would do it.

November 04, 2009 2:24 PM  
Blogger SBell Photography said...

It's a little like the restaurant that serves you waaaaay too much food. Seems unnecessary to the point that it's almost off putting. And I can only imagine how expensive that was to do.

November 04, 2009 2:27 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

I think this wins the "What's in YOUR kit?" bragging rights.

November 04, 2009 2:54 PM  
Blogger Myron said...

After all that busyness in the video getting almost to the actual lighting setup, I didn't see the "wide shot" of the actual lighting setup. Looks like some lights for the back and a big boom beauty dish type set up for the top light. I also saw a bi-fold reflector or screen although it looked like it might be behind the camera.

What is your reverse engineering lighting analysis?

November 04, 2009 3:11 PM  
Blogger Myron said...

interesting comments but i am thinking that the Team staff did all the major setup not the photog and his crew---they do all that stuff, and more, at least twice for each game

November 04, 2009 3:16 PM  
Blogger portergraph said...

I agree with Marc.

Perhaps they wanted actual photographs and not digital imagery. There probably wasn't much for post-production work as it was all taken care of in pre-production.

November 04, 2009 3:22 PM  
Blogger Jon Brooke said...

I'm underawed.

Like the music though - for those who didn't notice, it's LCD Soundsystem. I'd not heard of them before, but the rest of their stuff (on Myspace) is great too.

November 04, 2009 3:58 PM  
Blogger David said...

Just a quick PSA:

I have chosen not to moderate a few comments of photographers whining about Finn O'Hara's photos and/or techniques because they forgot to include links to their own awesomer portfolios.

Talk is cheap.


November 04, 2009 3:59 PM  
Blogger KE Photo said...

No big deal I do this every day with my 1971 Pentax K1000 and the little flash that came from Sears with it.

Thanks for posting the video and I am also glad he created the video. I liked the end images and thought the use of the Maple Leaf in the background was awesome.

November 04, 2009 4:18 PM  
Blogger tfangel said...

To those wondering why such a big production, ego. Not that it's a bad thing, but the ego of the owners, players, fans, photographer, etc. Isn't there a saying somewhere something like "go big or go home"? ;)
I'd love to do a shoot like this if only to say i had, and would love those results.

November 04, 2009 5:28 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

That production was much more impressive than the Leafs, as a team, have been.

November 04, 2009 5:32 PM  
Blogger Finn said...

Wow, holy crap indeed! Thanks to everyone for their comments and questions.
Unfortunately, it looks like I've jumped the gun on promoting the final material, as my client is now hoping to launch the campaign at a later date.
Therefore I'll be taking this version down shortly, and uploading a new version of the time lapse. David, please reach me via email so that I can give you the new Vimeo link if you're interested.
I hope you all enjoyed the sneak peek, and be sure to email me directly if you have any questions regarding the production.

November 04, 2009 5:55 PM  
Blogger Rob said...

I would bet at least half the readers who posted negative comments don't even know how to use the gear Finn used to make the photos.

I think there should be a new BootCamp assignment to see what these negative nancies can produce with their two SB-600's and photoshop.

I say great video Finn!

November 04, 2009 7:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Histed said...

This feels like when I was young in theatre: interesting to note that the lighting looks like how I'd have lit it years ago. It looks completely trivial from a theatrical perspective. I think sometimes the way you approach a problem depends on your comfort zone. If theater or "conference" work is your thing: this is easy, and straightforward. I note that they used big drapes to create a backdrop: I remember having it pointed out to me by a wise designer: nothing is easier or cheaper to fill space. That's why you do it. don't be fooled by the physical scale: that really is easy. The flying kit again is standard stuff: if anything over specced for this job, but hell you use what you've got. Like photogs using big flash heads: when they could sometimes just as easily use a white card and bounce the light. Heh, it's what they are comfortable with. :)

Really nice to have things mixed up, well done David day after day to provoke thought. Seeing how people work is always refershing.

Well done to them for a professional job, and thanks too to allow us to watch them at work.

November 04, 2009 7:03 PM  
Blogger VT said...

Finn - awesome work! If only the Leafs could look as good during a game as they do in your photos. Yes, I'm a long suffering Leaf fan, paying for my past sins...*sigh*

And for all of you complaining about the production values - you've never spent weeks putting together a deliverable of hundreds of images and videos with photoshopped backgrounds on a tight deadline, have you?

It was probably cheaper building up the full set than paying photoshop dweebs for hundreds of man-hours of work. Plus the results always looks fake when compared to the real thing.

November 04, 2009 7:05 PM  
Blogger Spencer said...

I'm just sitting here wondering why Finn just didn't do everything with Little People stand-ins and then graft childrens' drawings of their faces on to their bodies and composite the whole thing in Microsoft Paint? These comments are killing me.

Why do this? Why not?? Just enjoy, eh?

November 04, 2009 7:40 PM  
Blogger DerekW said...

OK, the Maple Leaf's player's salaries for 2009 is about $60,500,000...
Divide that by 365 days and that's about $165,00 PER DAY (let's pretend they work 7 days a week), or about $4700 a day for EACH those 35 guys..... This "production" was just a drop in the bucket.
Well done Finn

November 04, 2009 8:33 PM  
Blogger Barry Sherbeck said...

Call me cynical, or old, or something... but all this work put into a timelapse video, and no inclusion of the actual PHOTOS produced from the actual shoot???

Come on. Include 15 seconds of actual photographs created after all this work?

It's not about the process, it's about the results. Pictures. Photographs. I went to Finnman's blog, same thing. Clip of the timelapse, no links to any actual photos.

Cool timelapse, but... so wut.

All sex, and no love?

November 04, 2009 8:44 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

With regards to my original post (at the top) - I was referring to cost effectiveness. The results are amazing - far better than I could hope to accomplish.

However, considering that it housed a video crew on the other side, the cost seems justified for the project.

Well done Finn.

November 04, 2009 8:56 PM  
Blogger David said...

(Smacks forehead)

Umm, Barry... did you read all of those words above the video?

November 04, 2009 9:34 PM  
Blogger Barry Sherbeck said...

Sorry DH, I did in fact MISS those words. "...the original video -- with the final images included -- had to be pulled..."

(Smacks forehead; not for the first time; there's some evidence of this.)

How do clients get all this clout, anyway? Don't tell me. The whole money thing?

November 04, 2009 9:58 PM  
Blogger David said...

re the clients: As JoeyL puts it, "Cross my palm with silver and I'll do anything you want."

FWIW, it is their campaign. They paid for it, and have the rights to debut it. An embargo for the photog until that point is standard practice.

November 04, 2009 10:24 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Looks like it would have been great fun.
Some of the the results are available on his main site here:

i like the way the marks on the ice fall off into blackness before the background.

November 05, 2009 6:14 AM  
Blogger Jon said...

You can see some of the final images here:

looks like it would have been a lot of fun :)

November 05, 2009 6:16 AM  
Blogger Sodabowski said...

Which is exactly why such a huge setup was needed, be it overkill or not. Plus it gives work and money to all the guys who actually set things up for the shoot.

(Seems like a few peeps here took my previous comment too seriously. I was kidding about the cheap way this could be done)

November 05, 2009 9:24 AM  
OpenID whirlwindphotography said...

Wow, very cool. I play hockey every week at that arena so its very cool to see big projects like that happen so close to home!

November 05, 2009 10:36 PM  
Blogger Charlie Thiel said...

Aw, I could do that with my dad's old polaroid, a shoebox diorama, a small candle, and a bunch of plastic army men painted to look like hockey players!

November 06, 2009 10:46 AM  
Blogger Matthew said...

To all the poo-pooers out there...

Digitally pasting everything in isn't the answer to everything. There comes a time and place where using the actual backdrop makes things... *gasp*... easier!

Not to mention you need mad skills like Fin, too.

Oh, and David - I can understand why you were surprised at the scale of this... you newspaper guys are easily impressed :p

November 06, 2009 12:09 PM  
Blogger Big Blogger said...

This is a great post. I can't believe that they went to all of that trouble to build it out. Crazy!!

Cabbage Soup Diet

November 08, 2009 3:25 PM  
Blogger avenaim said...

I would love the opportunity to shoot larger scale productions. It was very cool to see a client putting out budget dollars for a cinematic style shoot. And that is what I enjoyed about the scale of the production, the fact that it was organic and not 'done in post' while I'm sure it still had it's share.

Very well done!

Jerry Avenaim
Jerry Avenaim Photography Blog

Jerry Avenaim Photography Website

November 14, 2009 2:08 PM  
Blogger jim said...

Looking at productions like that intimidates the heck out of me. It seems at that point, you're more of a production manager than a photographer.


November 15, 2009 1:05 PM  

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