DON'T MISS: Italian conceptual portrait photographer Sara Lando is coming to the US to teach in Atlanta (8/16) and Baltimore (8/23). Highly recommended.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dave Hill Verizon BTS

L.A. photographer / Photoshop stud Dave Hill has been cranking on the behind-the-scenes videos lately. Lots of new stuff on his site, including this one from one of his trademark composites for a Verizon ad.

Lots to glean in this 5-min segment if you are willing to look closely. And I can't imagine there are too many people are shooting components for national print ads in their living rooms, either. I always love the garage band ethic Dave brings to his high-level work.

Oh, and he calls Paul Buff out on the (non) wind-tested flash mount, too. Final pic and links to more, after the jump.

Granted, it's a Photoshopped composite, which will for some reason get a lot of the purists' panties in a bunch.

But the sheer number of elements (including instruments shot fisheye) is pretty crazy. I would have thought all of those wanged-out instruments were something more tech than that…

Dave has lots more new portfolio work and BTS videos up on his site. Definitely worth a visit.


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Blogger brian faini said...

We might call out Paul but I think he can forgive Dave because he has aided his sales quite nicely.

April 23, 2010 3:49 PM  
Blogger brian faini said...

We might call out Paul on his lights but he can forgive Dave for the boost in sales he has provided.

April 23, 2010 3:51 PM  
Blogger MrRiceGuy said...

I've seen other Dave Hill BTS videos (including one with a water gun fight in front of a club). Why does he shoot outside instead of in a studio? He's obviously getting some ambient contribution from the sun (particularly because he uses a scrim), but he also seems to provide rim light with the small softbox on the boom. It just seems he'd have more control over the environment (i.e., no wind, etc.) in the studio. Also, this isn't really a strobist question, but in making these composite shots, isn't it easier to shoot on a green screen? As an aside, totally agree w/ the gripe re PCB hardware (including the non-beefiness of the thumb screw).

April 23, 2010 4:00 PM  
Blogger Leo said...

Dave Hill is very talented. An amazing photographer?, I wouldn't say so. He takes great pictures...but where he really shines is post (and I don't mean that in a bad way.

April 23, 2010 10:15 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

What I want to know, is how he gets his composite rough so fast.

April 23, 2010 10:15 PM  
Blogger Captain Kimo said...

Love Dave's stuff. I guess since I'm a post guy myself.

April 23, 2010 10:32 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

never really been a fan of his, but eh, that's just me...

April 24, 2010 12:14 AM  
Blogger Phat Baby Photographer said...

Like MrRiceGuy, I'm impressed he could do the post for a national ad campaign (i.e. clean and top notch) without the green screen. Awesome end product.

April 24, 2010 12:27 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

Green screen is only reasonable for movie production. In doing photoshop composites its better to go with an outdoor setting. this way you wont notice a crooked edge on imperfect cutouts.

April 24, 2010 9:19 AM  
Blogger NotYourAvgJoe said...

Anyone know how he accomplishes that almost cartoon / edgy look? Is he using aftermarket filters to do this?

April 24, 2010 12:54 PM  
Blogger tjrohyans said...

Like Paul, I'm not a huge fan of this type of work either, but I still find it impressive. I have no where near the post skills that this requires.

April 24, 2010 3:22 PM  
Blogger m said...

Eureka! looks like he found the Dave Hill Look!

April 24, 2010 3:26 PM  
Blogger Brent said...

Considering the stylized look of the final composite that diverged significantly from the photographic source, wouldn't it be easier to just paint an image like this or do it as a Maya render? That way there would be no wind issues, no models to pay, and unlimited creative options.

April 24, 2010 5:58 PM  
Blogger kacey said...

Little known fact?
Dave Hill used to be a employee of Paul Buff back in the day before he became famous.

April 25, 2010 4:35 AM  
Blogger kacey said...

Little known fact?
Dave Hill used to be a employee of Paul Buff back in the day before he became famous.

April 25, 2010 4:37 AM  
Blogger Jim said...


Could someone explain why Dave was complaining about the Buff mount on his Octabox? I'm not familiar with that gear (I own Alien Bees strobes, but not that modifier), and I couldn't figure out what the problem was. Thanks!

April 25, 2010 11:55 AM  
Blogger CCTV Geek said...

Forgive me for a slightly OT question here. Does anyone else find that Dave Hill's website serves lots of blank or half-downloaded images and the BTS video links do nothing but launch blank windows? It has done for months now. Most frustrating. Has anyone seen and solved these issues, please?

April 25, 2010 1:05 PM  
Blogger CCTV Geek said...

Forgive me for a slightly OT question here. Does anyone else find that Dave Hill's website serves lots of blank or half-downloaded images and the BTS video links do nothing but launch blank windows? It has done for months now. Most frustrating. Has anyone seen and solved these issues, please?

April 25, 2010 1:05 PM  
Blogger MrRiceGuy said...

@Jim -- I understood Hill's crew to be complaining about two different aspects. First, the didn't think the WL clips were strong enough to hold the Photoflex Octa, and had to manually strap it on for outdoor use. Second, they were separately complaining about the "won't support the weight" aspect of the thumbscrew that tightens on a stand's stud. They said they added a "set screw," but I couldn't see what they did.

@Jan -- I don't really understand your comment (probably because I never do cut outs). Isn't it harder to do a cut out against a non-uniform background (like the one with the blonde runner)?

April 26, 2010 1:19 AM  
Blogger Eric Duminil said...


It might be easier to cut out your subject if you shoot against a green background. You'll make the magic wand happy if you have a clear distinction between your subject and the background!

The only problem is that if you only manage to cut out 99% of the green pixels, the remaining 1% will scream once you try to blend your subject onto another background.
Depending on the picture, it might be impossible to achieve a perfect selection.

OTOH, if you shoot against a background that has a comparable texture to your final one, it really isn't a problem if you don't achieve perfect selection.

You could even leave 20 pixels around your subject, it might not even show if you feather the selection or change the blending mode.

Hair will look like hair, and since viewers usually look for compositing right at the frontier between subject and background, they won't notice anything!

April 26, 2010 9:52 AM  
Blogger Jim said...

A note to MrRiceGuy:
Thanks for the observation about the WL mount. I haven't used a Photoflex Octa, but I'm surprised that anyone would rely on any manufacturer's modifier mounts to hold a "sail" that large, especially in unpredictable outdoor conditions. It makes more sense to mount large boxes like that directly on a stand, or a tilting stand adapter, and then hang the much smaller light off the box. The WL mounts are strong enough to support the weight of the light if mounted that way.

April 26, 2010 9:58 AM  
Blogger Eduardo said...

@Leo I think you are misjudging his work, Dave Hill shoots in Illustration/Comic book concept or style and for this his way of compositing, lighting and post processing are a perfect match open a popular comic book and compare his work to the framing, posing, composing, lighting, etc.

This is why other shooters trying to imitate him can't do it because there's no concept to unify the satellite elements (lighting, posing, moods, styling, post processing, etc. are all linked to the concept of the photo).

Variety is a great thing there are all kind of shooters for all kind of projects, the thing is that those who can link concept to the rest of things that make a photo a good photo is what gets them the job (regardless of the amount of photoshop or the lack of it).

April 26, 2010 2:42 PM  
Blogger MrRiceGuy said...

@Erick Duminhil -- thanks for the explanation.

@Jim -- agree w/ you. Another solution that I use is to attach a drop-don pin off when I'm booming a large soft box. There's very little torque on the stud that way.

April 26, 2010 3:37 PM  
Blogger stan chung said...

Granted, it's a Photoshopped composite
It's also a nice illustration sort of picture. The colours are really like an illustration so he shouldn't be too pinched if isn't called photography. LOL Using photos to achieve the illustration is more like it. Photo-illustration!

That said I'm a fan and the post is in no way quick as suggested by some of the flickr groups or himself!
Really has a airbrush hyper realistic quality to it.

April 26, 2010 10:58 PM  
Blogger Ryan S. said...

The photo work is really solid by itself, but I can't imagine spending that much time in front of the computer. Maybe one day I will, but right now I'd like to stay away from that much post. Not because I don't like and appreciate the end product; I just don't want to have to do it.

April 27, 2010 9:40 PM  
Blogger Tom said...

Funny he brought up the WL mount. I have 2 x WLx1600's and neither can even support the weight of the 30" x 60" paul buff foldable softboxes without slipping and tilting forward until it's facing towards the ground. They sent me additional metal washers(instead of the stock plastic ones) and both mounts still do the same thing.

The 'solution' I heard is to remove the entire mount and install it backwards so any excessive weight will just tighten, instead of loosen and tilt further forward.

May 02, 2010 2:42 PM  

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