A Very Cohehead Christmas

Veitch’s 2020 Christmas card

I first met Tanya & Rich when they hosted The Philadelphia Beekeepers Guild’s annual picnic. Not only do we share beekeeping but chicken keeping as well.  We also share an appreciation of science fiction & fantasy. This is the second year I have conspired with the Veitch family to photograph their Christmas card.

I Want to Believe:

Just so happens a flying saucer had recently landed in their front yard. Rich designed and built the saucer for an X Files themed birthday party for his youngest daughter. The birthday cake was an alien autopsy! Strangers pull into their driveway asking if their kids could get a closer look at the saucer. In reality I think the parents are just as curious. I asked Rich where he had found the plans, his response was “What plans?”

A Conehead Christmas was Rich’s idea, a spin off of the alien / flying saucer theme. Latex Coneheads were order from the internet but the costumes including the high collared, velvet cloaks were handmade. Creativity runs deep in the Veitch household.

Lighting Considerations: Non gear heads can skip this part, just scroll down and look for more pretty pictures.

Since I would be shooting outdoors, on a windy day, I opted to use a beauty dish with a diffusor as the main light rather than an umbrella or soft box. As I needed to fly the main light high above my subjects I placed the light on an Ultimate Stand for it’s wide footprint then added a sandbag for safety. Ultimate stands are made of oversized aluminum and are mostly used to hold speakers at music venues.

Fill light was provided by a Bowens ring flash at camera level. “Hey, the 80’s called and they want their ring flash back!” Something to consider when using a ring flash is that it will imprint a circle in your subject’s retinas, like characters burned into the phosphor of an old CRT monitor. This affliction is temporary, but contact your optomitrist if symptoms last more than 48 hours.  Ring flashes are good fill lights when used on camera axis and in this case, helped to accentuate detail in the velvet robes.

Both the main and fill light shared a Dynalite 2000ws pack. An Alien Bee with standard reflector was place behind and to the left of the subjects as a rim light.  The underside of the saucer was lit with a Dynalite 1000ws pack and one head fitted with barndoors to control spill. Lastly I placed a 1000 ws  Dynalite with an NE-1 bare bulb inside the saucer to light up the acrylic dome. I’m an available light photographer, as in every light available. Powering all these lights was no problem as Rich had extension cords everywhere having strung enough Christmas lights to rival The Griswold’s. 

Coneheads inside saucer

For the shot inside the saucer I used the ring flash as the main light and left the NE-1 to fill the inside of the saucer. I don’t get the chance to use either of these lighting tools often so it was fun to use them together. A bit of Photoshop was needed to blend in the Coneheads. I Can’t wait to hear what they come up with next year. 

                                         Wishing everyone mass quantities this holiday season!

                                                   Below is their Goth themed photo from last year. 

2019 Goth Christmas card

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