A Zombie and her Pet.

I had this Idea in my head for a while now about doing a zombie shoot with my friends and family, Luckily we got use of an old farm workshop about eight miles just outside of Glasgow. The place was old, dirty.. and to be honest I don’t think anyone had been in there for around thirty years but that just made it all the more fitting for the ideas I had in my head.

For this article I’m going to be sharing one of the shots we did there and show frame by frame how the lighting was built until I got to the look I wanted.

First of all the Lighting  kit used for this shot was four smartflash 200 strobes, three 60cm softboxs, a standard reflector with grid, four light stands, a generator, a smoke machine and a whole bunch of friends and family (it was a fun zombie shoot day after all).

Starting off with no Lights.

As you can see, we have a blank canvas to work with.  One of the main features I wanted  in the shot was light coming through the window on the left.  As I was using smoke I knew that it would lead to a nice effect.

Adding the first light. (smartflash 200 with 60cm soft box)

I placed my first light outside the old workshop and aimed it through the window.  As you can see this gave us a really nice effect, like there was moonlight glistening into the room.  It’s a really nice shot on its own,  but overall it’s really dark and if I was to add my zombies into this scene setup they would have gotten a little lost.

 Adding the second light. (smartflash 200 with standard reflector and grid.)

Since none of my zombies were ready yet (they were having a snack) I decided to use the old chair to test my lighting on.  As you can see the gridded strobe really did a good job of highlighting a subject in the frame.  Without a grid on the strobe, the light would have spread across the frame lighting everything  and this was not the effect I wanted.  I thought this would be a great time to place one of my zombies into the scene and see how it was shaping up.

Adding our zombie. (Dawn)

 I liked this a lot,  but the right hand side of the frame was still a little too dark, I knew there were some nice details in the scene that were just not showing yet, so I decided to add another light.

Adding another light. (smartflash 200 with 60cm softbox)

This was much better, even though we went a little nuts with the smoke here, you can see that adding the other softbox to the back right of the frame has really opened up some of the background detail as well as giving a nice edge/rim light to the subject.  I really like this frame and do plan to edit it later, but the other zombie was now ready so let’s add him in to see what happens.

 Adding the other zombie (William)

Ok, it seems like the gridded strobe doesn’t have enough coverage to light both zombies,  I could have gotten around this by moving the light back (there wasn’t the space) or changing the grid (I only had this one), so I decided to get another softbox on the left to kick a little more light into the scene.

 Adding the last Light. (smartflash 200 with 60cm softbox)

That’s more like it, that extra light brought some details into the shadow areas of the smaller zombie giving a nice overall look.  This frame ended up being the one I liked the most and spent a little bit of time retouching it to get the final image.

Shot with a pentax K5 :  iso 80, 26mm, f6.3, 1/180

Special thanks to :

My step daughter Dawn for being a zombie
William Cruickshank’s for being the big zombie
Pamela Monaghan for doing the make-up
James Cuzin for assisting
Bewing Auto Centre for a loan of the generator
S&M Lighting for a loan of the smoke machine

Everyone else who helped on the day.. thank you.