Image Breakdown: Breaking Bad Meth Lab

With the start of releasing images from my Breaking Bad inspired series I want to share the breakdown of what all went in to these images. So today we start with the first image in the series. Also Spoilers for the show Breaking Bad may be ahead so read ahead at your own risk (and watch the show if you haven't, its great).


The idea for this series was inspired by the release of the limited edition Breaking Bad Vodka. The goal was to take each of the bottles and create an imagine inspired by locations in the show. This would be a challenge since the show takes place on sound stages and locations in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and I am a commercial photographer in Orlando, Florida.

For the first image of the series the idea was to show  off the bottle in the Super Meth Lab. Not knowing of any local Super meth labs I had to get creative so I contact a local brewery and got the okay to come on in for an hour to use their brewery as the location for the shoot. So with the right angle and lens I was able to get a tight shot that had a similar ascetic that the show had. 


Space and time were tight, but planning ahead aloud me to set up and shoot quickly

The day of the shoot I knew I would only have 1 hour to load in gear, shoot, and pack everything up. On top of that space was tight which I had planned ahead for with a location scout the week before. I already knew the general idea of the angle I wanted to shoot from and a general idea on how I was going to light the bottle. I used a total of 3 strobe and 1 speedlight for the whole shoot. The first strobe was my key light coming in from camera right behind the bottle. This  lit up the machinery along with the bottle. I then used a silver bounce card on the other side of the bottle to reflect light back into the bottle to show off the crevasses in the design. The second strobe was shot into the ceiling to act as my fill light throughout the room.

Lastly a speed light with a 10 degree grid was used to throw some light on the front labels of the bottle. The image contained multiple exposures so I could composite parts of them together in post. This was a large time saver due to having to move around the small space and make adjustments. Another large helpful factor was shooting tethered to my Surface Pro. The Surface pro was great for this as its a fully functional computer the size of a large tablet. I simply rigged it up to the tripod and spun it around so I could see what I was shooting since there was no room to stand behind the tripod. Plus with calibrating the screen on the surface I was able to see what my image would look like when I went to edit it in photoshop.


This image consisted of a few images that where later combined in photoshop. A break down of the steps I took in photoshop can be seen below. Along with fixing a few reflections on the bottle, I added in a fly which you might remember from a certain episode to the show. After a few contrast and saturation adjustments I finished off the image with a LUT. LUTs are look up tables used often in the video industry to adjust a cameras colors to match a certain standard. I often use them to bring my flat log video files (which retain more detail) to a more pleasing starting point, but they are also often used to match old film stocks. So I did some research on the film stock used in Breaking bad and found the matching LUT, did some minor adjustments to its strength and that leaves us with the finished image.