Three Canadians Walk Into A Bar…

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Even though I’ve lived in New York since 1982, if someone asks me where I’m from I immediately say, “Edmonton!”, so when Terri Belley…the Art Director at Avenue Magazine…asked me to shoot a feature on another ex-Edmontonian, actress Catherine Mary Stewart, I jumped at the chance. I mean, this was the hot chick from “Night of the Comet”, “The Last Starfighter” and who can forget…“Weekend at Bernie’s”!!! And designer Michael Kaye…another native son of Edmonton now calling New York home…was gonna be providing the fashions.

But then reality kicked in. Avenue ain’t Vanity Fair, and as such, the production budget was very tight, so we decided to shoot everything at Michael’s design studio. The only problem, he just moved in and when I went by to take a look at what we might have to work with, the place was still under construction. Even so, there were a few things that caught my eye…

These mirrors…

A Knoll Egg Chair…

A wall of dress forms…

And something all Canucks have on their walls…a really cool mounted head!

Michael assured me the studio would be completed in time for the shoot, and a few weeks later Kaz and I hauled a thousand pounds of gear uptown and went to work, starting with those mirrors…


Well, that sucked…gotta get that color balance right…


Much better. Let’s do it…

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

And here’s how it looked in the magazine…


Now…the dress forms…


Way too much ring light and too little drama…gotta bring in the Mini-Octa…



Catherine Mary Stewart

So good, it ended up on the cover…


Michael had a black pony area rug on the floor that I thought would look good from above…


The high angle was great, but the day bed wasn’t working, so we went with the Egg Chair instead…

Catherine Mary Stewart

And as the only horizontal I shot all day, it fit right in as the opener for the story…


Since I had been to the studio on the scout, Michael had added some shelves that showed off his collection of fashion illustrations on either side of the Antelope head. Catherine was going to wear one of his signature Tartan dresses that he designed especially for her, and I originally thought it might look good with a stark ringlight effect…


But it came off like a Terry Richardson rip-of and was too different from everything else we were doing, so I brought back the drama with a spotlight on her…

Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart


We had already shot a lot, but Michael had one more gown he wanted to include and although we had pretty much shot every angle of his studio, after wracking our brains for one more idea we thought it might be fun to offset the stunning beaded dress against a haphazard pile of chairs…


Works for me!

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye


After a very long day in a very small studio, we were three very tired Canadians! And the June issue of Avenue magazine is on the stands now!

Catherine Mary Stewart & Michael Kaye

Catherine Mary Stewart


16 thoughts on “Three Canadians Walk Into A Bar…

  1. Are you gelled CTB on the ring in the mirror shots, or CTO on the octa and white bal is pushing the ring blue, or I suppose cross gelled on both? Dramatic difference from “well that sucked” to properly color bal’d. lol’d at the TR ripoff comment. I much prefer the dramatic light.

    Good eyes…it’s a full CTO on the Octa. Much easier than cutting circular gels for the ringlight (they get smoked if you’re shooting at 2400 w/s too!). BT

  2. Boo-ful… even that shot of the chairs by themselves looks gorgeous. I’m not understanding the color balance tho’ (sorry, duh) … white bal on camera is tungsten or flash? octa is full cto blue and ring is nekkid?
    what what? thanks, damn ugly, ‘preciate it.

    Here’s the thing…if you look at that first shot of Kaz against the mirrors, it’s about as ‘normal’ as it gets. I hate normal. And as a lotta guys are quick to point out, I LOVE blue! So if I add a full CTO on the mini-Octa and leave the ringlight clear, when I do a white balance…or at least bring the color back to some kind of range where it’s not looking too orange…then anything NOT lit by the Octa is gonna shift towards the blue end of things. So instead of a boring white wall, I get a cool bluish cast, but the subject stays in a nice, warm light. BT

  3. i just wanna say again, i’m a big fan! not the one who makes strong wind..
    i’m following for a while now on the agenda of the color correction and i just wonder, why do you take reading of color checker if you later ignore it. i mean, i took your shot with the checker and opened it in PS, and fixed it with levels with a single click on the grey square… this what turned out:
    of course i understand that you’re making your images YOUR OWN.. i’m just trying to crack the thought process.
    does it matter if you first get the correct exposure and then change it to your own, or just open it in LR (or what ever you’re using) with default settings and then play with it?

    loving this post!

    I always shoot a MacBeth card for a couple of reasons. First, I can do a gray balance to see what normal will look like. This is important in case I want to make a ‘normal’ layer that I can selectively erase from as I do my various color shifts. Secondly, by shooting a full color card instead of just a grey card, When do start spinning the dials and mess up the color, I can see what it does to ALL colors. BT

  4. I can’t believe you’re an ex-Edmontonian too! That’s awesome! I’ve been a long time reader, and really enjoy all of your behind-the-scenes posts. Thanks for the insights.

  5. First of all, thank you for posting this.
    Now, on the picture that made the cover, what was the ratio between the ringflash and the octa? I’m assuming you used the ringflash as the main light here.

    Actually, no…the Mini-Octa is the main light by a big margin. The ringlight is still there…you can see the halo around her head on the wall behind her…but it’s about 2 stops lower than the Octa. And as with the shot we did against the mirrors, the Octa had a Half CTO on it and the ringlight was bare…that gave the white wall and the shadows the blue cast. BT

  6. Very well executed, Brad. I like the ideas the most. Shows how one can make a good picture if there’s a good idea utilizing the available environment. The execution is brilliant. Congratulations.

  7. So, speaking of hauling a kilopound of gear… how does damnugly pack for the road? I’m trying to find a solution for how to make a Ranger AS Speed pack and head travel nice with a few other (2-3 depending) monolights. The elinchrom cases are craptastic.

    Tenba cases…lots and lots of Tenba cases! Here is a quick breakdown…

    2 – Extra-Deep Air Case Topload (4 Profoto Acute Packs, 5 Heads, 2 Ringlights)
    1 – Air Case Topload 4×5/Medium Light Case (2 Elinchrom 2000 w/s Packs, 4 Heads)
    2 – Extra Large Attache Air Case (6 Elinchrom 500w/s monolites)
    1 – Tripak 75 Case (Large Avenger Boom Stand, Chimera Banks)
    1 – Tripak 1030 Case (Stands & Banks/Umbrellas)
    1 – Tripak 51 Case (Ghetto-Flo Lights)
    1 – 48″ Tripod/Grip Case

    And we have many, many more non-Tenba cases as well! BT

  8. Very cool shots. And, I like your creativity with the set you were dealt with. What camera and lens? And processed in LR?

    That egg crate chair is a nice shot, CTO on the mini-octa there? Thanks!

    Everything was shot with the Hasselblad H1/Leaf Aptus 75 with either the 50mm or the 80mm, and processed in Leaf Capture. I have never used Lightroom. Leaf files with Leaf Capture, Canon files in the Photoshop Raw converter.

    As for the egg chair shot, yeah, it’s the mini-octa with a full CT as a main light, the bare ringlight on-camera and a couple of 1200w/s heads with full CTB gels aimed directly at the black rug. BT

  9. Hey Brad, great stuff! On the ring light, when do you decide to go with the “beauty dish” attachment vs. bare ring light? I’ve got the dish attachment but never seem to make use of it. Looks like you’re using it here….

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