Friday, February 5, 2016

Breitling Sabre Ad - From Start To Finish

 Commercial photography and ad creation are particularly appealing to me. It is the ideal situation for turning one's imagination loose in the creation of the various puzzle pieces that comprise the final image. Most of the time, my part in an an ad begins and ends with the images, usually of a person or persons, but sometimes my portion of the process includes backgrounds. Seldom do I ever become involved with text, graphics, logos, or the composition of the final ad.

But just because I am not paid to be involved in the creation of the final copy for an ad doesn't mean that I can't do so for my own amusement. So, I recently took a page from Breitling's ad campaigns that feature cool aircraft, expensive watches, and outdoor scenes and put together my own version of a Breitling ad that included all of the bells and whistles.

Above is the ad I created. I started out by searching for a place where I could photograph the coolest of the cool in aircraft. After some searching, I was invited to shoot the aircraft housed at the Valiant Air Command in Titusville, Florida and after arriving I decided to shoot a classic North American F-85 Sabre. The folks at the facility gave me free rein to set up  lights and shoot, and using several Nikon SB-800 strobes placed out of my sight line and triggered remotely, I was able to light up the Sabre the way I wanted.

Using the quick selection tool in Photoshop and the refine edge feature, I was able to cut the Sabre out from the background, saving it for later insertion into a different background.
I then turned my attention to finding that perfect background. I tried several different scenes but I ultimately opted for the simplicity of a silhouetted mountain scene at sunset. I thought the colors would work well with some tweaking and the sun peeking through a break in the clouds would allow me to add shafts of light shining down on the Sabre.  The way the image faded to almost black along the bottom was also conducive to expanding the canvas with black where the ad's text would ultimately reside.

Next up was my pilot. I wanted a Top Gun kind of look so I posed a model as shown (L) with a wrist exposed. That is where I would later add the Breitling watch that was going to be featured in the ad.

I also wanted the pilot image to have a moody look to it.  so I gave it my best shot through lighting. The key light (left part of the face as you're looking at it) was metered at f11 while the fill light (on my right) was metered at f4 to create a dramatic shadow on the left side of the pilot's face. I used a snoot on both lights to limit the light spill and that created a nice light drop-off/shadow as you go from the face to the body. Once again, using the quick selection tool in Photoshop and using the refine edge feature, I cut out the pilot from the image and saved it for later insertion into the background.

With some of my puzzle pieces falling into place it was time to drop the Sabre into the background. Through various layers, I adjusted the shadows below the fuselage to blend the Sabre into the background with the hopes of making it look less like a dropped in cutout and more like a Sabre actually photographed on site. 

Some additional refinements of the shadows below the fuselage blended the Sabre into the scene even better and allowed me to begin the process of working in some shafts of light shining down on the Sabre. At first, I through I would have light shafts coming from both sides of the Sabre but in the end decided on having them coming just from where the sun peeks out through the clouds. The light shafts were created in separate layers with the Dodge tool in Photoshop and then positioned as I saw fit. In the image below, I had added the light shafts but had not re-positioned all of them on the right side of the image.

It was time to add the third puzzle piece, the pilot. With the Sabre on the right side of the image, the only logical place to insert him was on the left. When I did that, I had a nagging feeling that it just didn't look right knowing that I still had other puzzle pieces to add in the form of text, the Breitling logo, and an image of the watch to name a few things. So as an experiment, I flipped the image horizontally.

For some reason, this orientation just looked better to me notwithstanding the lettering that was now reversed. That wasn't a big deal as I had planned on removing the "U.S. Air Force Skyblazers" and replace it with Breitling lettering and logo.

First, the "U.S. Air Force Skyblazers" lettering was removed, as was the pilot's name that appeared just below the jet's canopy ....

The Breitling logo was added as well as the "Breitling" text, all of which had to manipulated with the Transform-Warp feature in the Photoshop Edit drop down menu so the perspective would appear natural on the side of the Sabre. The pilot's name was copied, reversed, manipulated for perspective, and pasted just below the canopy. I forgot to do this to the rudder numbers at this point but eventually did so. I also added Breitling's "1884" text below the Breitling text before finalizing the image.

I moved the light shafts into place as if they were coming from the sun, warmed the color a bit, and softened/blurred them. I then enlarged the canvas below the image with a black addition and blended it in to the image. As an afterthought, I removed the Top Gun patch from the pilot's flight suit. Later on, I added the Breitling yellow logo as a patch on his left arm.

Now it was time to add more puzzle pieces, i.e. the watch, the Breitling logo, and the ad's text. I had to add the watch not only at the bottom of the image but also on the pilot's wrist. Doing so required cutting out the watch image from its background, flipping it upside down, and manipulating the perspective so it would look right on the pilot's left wrist

I did some research on the F-86 Sabre so I could compose the text in the add. I also read a bunch of Breitling's marketing literature on the watches and came up with the following. The slogan "Aviation is in its DNA: came to me at the last minute and I thought it fit perfectly - short, sweet, and if I may say so, catchy:

Merging everything into place, moving things around, and playing with the size of the various puzzle pieces gave way to the final image.

My version of what a Breitling ad would look like. Now if only Breitling would hire me to actually shoot one of their ads....


Bob Pelkey said...


Johan said...

Excellent final ad Mike! Thanks for stepping through the stages of completion and your thought processes

Blogger said...

Dexclusive is selling authentic brand name watches, with some watches offered with a 75% discount.