It's a yacht, NOT a boat. Before you get on any yacht, take off your shoes and don't refer to it as a BOAT. You'll be walking the plank sooner than walking the deck. Not my rules, but all the yachty types'!
Earlier this year I was commissioned to shoot Wedderwill Wine Estate's Sauvignon Blanc 07 (one of the highlights of my wine drinking year - try and get your hands on some!) on this yacht, moored in the V&A marina. For the sake of privacy of the owner, I'll not divulge the yacht's name. What I'll say of that shoot is that SPF30 cream is essential when shooting in high summer on a yacht. My arms and legs normally have a full stop reflection value in a shot, afterwards I had a 3000K warming effect on all shots. See insert image.
Well, to keep the idea and spirit of the ads the same, I was recently commissioned to do the follow-up shoot. The Cab shot was to be done inside the yacht with the same model - Wolfgang - who also doubles as the companies Marketing Director! The idea is for the red wine to have a more wintery feel. Well, as luck would have it, it was a balmy 25 deg, but being inside the cabin it didn't matter.
Here however, the logistics were different. I was stuck in a space about 4m2 in size with a bottle, a model and a cabin to try and get in the shot with adequate depth and lighting. My trusty strobist set-up, in this case a 580EX II, 420EX, 2 small Amity's and 2 perspex diffusers were the main pieces of photographic gear. Oh, and my camera (see my camera bag listing in the Shifting Gear section). A tripod was out of the question due to space, so it was all hand-held and flash-lit baby.
In the wide shot above you'll see Pam (Pam Westaway Public Relations) holding up a reflector/diffuser, for the simple reason that it's better if your client gets involved! ;) No, we were strapped for space and couldn't rely on a bottle to hold it up. Perspex tends to be heavy for its size, much like glass. We needed the bottle to be elevated, and for that we had to raid the yacht's mini-bar, to find adequate sized soda tins. These were used to get some elevation on the bottle. What you can't see - if you could this sentence would be obsolete - is the myriad of reflection coming from cabin at my back. I was sitting in one of the bunks, rather awkwardly, to get the framing right. This left me and all the sailing paraphenalia reflecting in the bottle. I used my 5-in-1 reflector on black to cover everything behind me. I also used a white reflector behind the perspex one on the right to bounce my 580EX II with Gary Fong Lighsphere II with a soft dome back through the perspex.
To light Wolfgang I used the 420EX directed at the wooden staircase, to give a warm reflection and avoid hard light. The little Amity's were used to lift the shadows in the bunk on the left and as a shadow filler overall.The rest of the shot was merely composition and getting the model settled. We did a couple of variations and then one or 2 other set-ups as well, but it is very restricting in such a small space. I ended up shooting some details of the yacht's interior for use in the final layouts of the ad. Important to note on the "final" shot, is that it isn't in fact the final final. The image shown here is pre-post production, where softening the reflections, and all the usual cosmetics still needs to be done. Is is the most amazing bottle shot ever? No. But in the circumstances provided, we faired really well. Bottles with gold foiled labels are seldom plain sailing, anyways.
Even though the logistics might've been complicated, doing projects such as these really inspire me and ignite a bit of an engineering desire in me. Don't you just love "building" something from scratch, until it suits your desires? Well, building pictures are no different.
Wolfgang Loeper - Marketing Director, Model, Photo enthusiast
Pam Westaway - PR, allround light gaffer and good company
Me: Photographer and soda-drinker