Behind the scenes with the Cucciolo Matto

The Cucciolo Matto shoot will go down as one of my favorite shoots with Analog to date.  There have been some good ones, like the ’49 Indian I wrote about last time, but as far as picture quality, refinement, and pure location-bliss this shoot takes the cake.  If you are like me, you are a dog lover.  Puppies especially tweak my heart strings and the little pitbull puppy, “Pearl”, who posed so well for us for this shoot is no exception.

Loading the Cucciolo is a single-person, no ramp needed job unlike every other build we’ve ever done.  The lighting equipment for shooting inside a very dark barn, however, is not.  Using a studio lighting kit with an overhead boom and soft box is how we are able to fully control lighting on Pearl the puppy (and the Ducati).  Tony has gotten pretty good at helping me put together and generally run this lighting kit which is great, because it is a lot of tweaking and adjusting to get it just right.

The barn was found through a friend who owns this property just over the Wisconsin border.  We wanted to shoot in a location with a rustic vibe to it, preferably with wooden floors.  Location is key for these feature shoots.  We want good light and a pretty neutral or not busy background.  I liked the idea of shooting the bike in front of the hay bails with the wooden floors underneath the bike so we worked on cleaning up the space a bit.

After we cleaned out the barn, the space came alive.  In this shot you can clearly see our overhead strip light.  Mixed with a little bit of ambient light from the barn and the little bit of light peaking through the barn walls, I think it made for a pretty cool location.  Often times at these shoots we want to make one location look like it is several locations.  While this is clearly still a barn, it is different than the shot with the hay in the background which keeps the photo set visually interesting.  Just as with the ’49 Indian shoot, we move the bike into these different setups and aim for getting as much content to share with our fans as possible.

So here’s the shot that stole my heart.  While I liked some of the others where Pearl’s human was not in frame, I really liked her look in this shot.  So I combined this shot with a shot of just the bike and lined the photos up in order to remove the owner from the final composition.  Typically in a set of 150 photos like this, I try not to take on too much intense Photoshop work based on the sheer quantity of images.  However, for this shot it was important to remove the guy from the frame and showcase just the dog and the bike.

At the end of the day, seeing the edited photo set, possibly seeing the photos on Bike Exif and people’s comments on the pictures makes doing these high production value feature shoots worth it.  I never leave a shoot happy with what I’ve done – that comes later when I work with the photos in Lightroom and verify that I did not screw up.  This time, however, I knew we had a winner even before I started editing the photos.

What’s your favorite Cucciolo shot?


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