Atmosphere Inside

Red spells Danger

Meet my alter-ego: DCI Breach!

Detective Chief Inspector Breach is inspired by kick-arse middle-aged  female actors who play women detectives in British TV thrillers. I imagined this as a movie poster for a new murder mystery series. I wanted to convey the idea of a crime scene being surveyed by the hero detective and I wanted it to feel like an outside location even though it was created and shot inside. 

This is what my set-up looked like:

Timelapse video of the shoot, 1 frame per second.

Camera Settings

Focal Length • 85 mm

Speed 1/100

f 4

ISO 100


1 x strobe (screen left) with red gel and softbox

1 x strobe with blue gel and octabox

1 x speedlite (screen far-right) with red gel. 

The gel colors of blue and red were selected to provide a notion of the lights on an American cop car. I confess this doesn't quite fit with the back story of the British Inspector, because British police cars are more about blue lights than red ones, but you'll just have to imagine our DCI is hot on the heels of an International criminal mastermind and has travelled to the US to collaborate with her counterparts on the American force in the process of her current investigation. 

Showing the Lighting Set-up:

Red Spells Danger Lighting

Depth & Atmosphere

Paying attention to the details

• To provide a sense of depth I set up the "DANGER" tape on different planes so that the focus and scale would change due to perspective. 

• To give the impression the DCI is the authority in the shot, surveying the scene from a position of safety, I made sure that she was not in the Danger Zone. This was achieved by sandwiching her between the two separate cordoned-off areas. Note that the foreground area tape is installed so the viewer sees it written backwards. This suggests that it is he audience themselves who is in the danger zone, not our protagonist. 

• I used a smoke machine to fill the background with a small amount of fog designed to create atmosphere and depth. 

• Clothing – I wore a practical outdoor coat of the type I might imagine a detective would wear in dark colors so as not to distract from the overall color story. 

• Makeup – I purposely did not wear any. This is meant to feel like a hard working woman who is confident in her middle-aged self and is too busy working to care what she looks like.

• Expression – I was thinking movie poster grandeur, but I wanted to convey a sense of control and authority in my demeanor.  I wanted it to feel to the audience as if I was perusing the scene before me. I didn't want an overly dramatic expression opting more for a sense of 'taking all the information in'. Cool and calm like any good detective. 

• Standing room only – although shot sitting down due to physical constraints of the location and background, the final image was designed to feel like the protagonist was standing. 

SOOC versus Photoshop: Before and After Edit

  • SOOC Red Spells Danger
  • Red spells Danger

Post Production

In the editing phase I cropped the image tighter and I increased the contrast as well as tweaking the blue tones to be more blue, less purple. I removed a few stray hairs and minor blemishes. I blurred the foreground Danger tape slightly to increase the sense of depth further and I sharpened the eyes, nose and mouth. 

So what do you reckon? Would you watch this series on Netflix?!!

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