Advanced Studio Practice 2A: Shoot: “Like a Deer caught in the Headlights” (Test shoot)

30th October 2014

Location – Thackley Woods

The aim here was to do a ‘mock up’ test shoot of the phrase ‘Like a Deer caught in the Headlights’, and the idea I had for it. I used myself in this, just because I needed to test the lighting and see if using literal headlights would work, to be able to expose the model and the background equally. It was late at night so it was extremely dark and there were no street lights around. This was a literal interpretation of the phrase, so I just wanted to photograph, with the camera on the car bonnet, looking down the road, with the headlights on, and with the ‘Deer’ facing the side but looking at the camera with a shocked/terrified expression.

The location (it was around 9pm at night):


At first I tried out a situation/set up as if the car had ‘swerved off the road and into the woods’ to see how this looked:


The lighting worked here quite well because the background (fence) was ‘closer’ to the light so I didn’t have to try and bump up the settings as much. I liked this concept of the car swerving off but I also wanted to try it on the road and see how it came out…


At first I had full beam on with the headlights, however this was so bright that it bleached out my face and it was difficult to get the effect I desired. I had to edit them afterwards (^ as you can see with image 2 & 4 above) to take the midtones up using Levels and Dodge my face/shoulders to make them darker. So I tried just usual headlight settings and the light was more focussed, which then didn’t light my face as I hoped… (image 1 below)

IW9B4349-01RESIZED IW9B4358-01RESIZED < This moving image was an idea I had as I was leaving, of maybe slightly zooming in as I’m shooting for next time, to give the impression that the car is moving towards the Deer, to make more sense with the context of the phrase.

In the end I decided to do a long exposure of the background then edit the two types of images together to create the effect I wanted…


Next time I shoot this I want to maybe use a speed lite to flash the background to see if this balances the light better and the Deer can be put in context with the location bec0ming visible. If this doesn’t work I will try just selecting/editing the background and making it lighter (if it is works). This shoot has helped me understand the location I want to photograph in for this concept and it’s conditions. It has provided a further understanding of how to create the shot and concept I am wanting to portray. Next time I will also have done the make up for the Deer so maybe the face wont look so bleached out.

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