Dec 21, 2010

Santa letter section cover

It is Santa letter time at newspapers across the nation, and of course we needed some fun cover art for the special section.

Our super-awesome graphic artist Jan is always up for a creative challenge, so I took some shots of my wife's favorite holiday decoration... a whimsical flying santa figure. Collaborating with other creative people is one of the most fun and gratifying things in this line of work.

I first shot Santa a few years ago and used him on some Christmas cards. It was when I had first discovered Strobist and was playing with off-camera lighting. In this case a pair of cheap clamp-lamps.
flying santa

After mocking up a cover, this pic was just too dark and flat, so I did a quick re-shoot. I wanted to keep the head-on angle but add a shadow of Santa below him for some depth. Also, I have more light toys now, so it was a chance to play.

First up, the Santa is on a dark wooden base, so creating the shadow in the right spot was an issue. Even with the plan of cutting out the base, the shadow fell too far to one side for the look we wanted.
Santa Section-1754

Creating the shadow is an Elinchrom bxri500 monolight with a 10 degree grid all the way up at the 9' ceiling. The key light on Santa is the same light with a 20 degree grid up close.

To get the shadow in the right place, I poked the stand through the paper... Also, I did not have enough flagging material or time to get everything perfect in one shot (and it was being 'shopped anyway) so I turned off the key light for a good shadow exposure..
Santa Section-1764

Turned the key back on for an exposure of Santa himself.. The overhead is still on as well. If not, the shadow looks very out of place when you put the two shots together.
Santa Section-1767

Jan chose to use a more processed version of Santa and put it all together to make our cover..

That is just a screen shot of the Indesign doc, but you get the idea. I look forward to seeing the final version on big newsprint.

Don J.

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