How I got the Shot - '40s Hollywood WWII

Developing the Concept:

In August, 2014 while working on building my '40s Hollywood image portfolio and staging my annual '40s Hollywood Lighting Workshop at the Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum in Mesa, AZ, I was introduced to Olesya Karpova, a beautiful model from Russia. I had been looking for potential content for my now published OCF Lighting Book. I wanted to add another signature image and story into the mix of the content for my book. I had previously created a series of Iconic WWII '40s Hollywood themed images with an American model, Alex Majesty. So with the introduction of Olesya, I was eager to create another Iconic image for the "Escape from Berlin" story in my book. Closely examining my current portfolio and the aircraft at the Air Museum, I felt that I could utilize the P-51 fighter as the backdrop for the vintage Hollywood look and add a bit more drama to the overall look and mood of the scene.

Lighting for the WWII '40s Hollywood Look:

I had previously arranged with Westcott, the lighting company, to provide the speed-light based lighting modifiers, as they would be sponsoring my 2014 '40s Hollywood themed Lighting Workshop. They provided me with several of the now popular Westcott Rapid Boxes to create the film noir lighting needed to establish the right '40s era look.

The first step was to stage the set, that is determine the camera angle and define the position, for our gorgeous model, with a theatrically strong presence in front of the P-51 aircraft.

The Main Light: To create the right look for the main light, a Westcott 26" Octagonal Rapid Box, I set the distance for the main light (approximately 7.5 feet away) to keep the quality of light crisp, with well defined shadows. Then to get the dramatic shadows, I raised the main light to an angle high above Olesya's head (as visible in the bts pull-back photo). The height of the main light allowed me to cast shadows beneath her cheekbones and jawline, with a Rembrandt shadow pattern, giving more definition to her beautiful features. If the main light had been set closer and at a shorter height, there would not have been such a beautiful crispness to her jawline and the overall appearance would have been much less dimensional.

Hair, Makeup and Wardrobe: In order to create an authentic look, we mimicked the '40s era styling for our lovely model. In my book, the story of our heroine, a beautiful young Russian immigrant fleeing Berlin, begins on page 81 with masterfully printed full color images. A fun read filled with a rich technical description and artistic approach.

The love story which began in France, finds our young couple, our Russian immigrant and a young RAF pilot, barely escaping the German Messerschmitts with the help of a Rolls Royce powered P-51 fighter aircraft. Read the full story, with lighting and camera details, as well as many lighting stories and details in my book, "Creative OCF Lighting Techniques for Photographers." Now available on Amazon.

The pull-back photo below shows the placement of the lights with the Westcott Rapid Boxes for the main light and backlight. The umbrella provides the fill light to lightly lift the shadows.

Overhead lights and a skylight were illuminating the P-51 Aircraft, which defined the base exposure value, from which the stage was set to balance the flash illumination levels of the lighting and create a believable lighting scenario for the setting of the scene.

Pull-back photo showing lighting setup