In an earlier post I wrote the failed attempt with Sian to recreate the images of Mayer George that involved shadows and light on models. By the end of the shoot we had concluded that the shapes had been projected onto the model using a data projector rather than a gobo on the studio lights.
Sian was willing to give it a second go so I designed a series of shapes in photoshop. We had a lot of fun with the shoot along with a few challenges, with the first of them getting the images to display.
I work on a Mac but have an older laptop that I recently updated to Windows 10. That was the one to be connected to the data projector. I do not know why Microsoft insist on making things harder to do when they update their software, but that is exactly what they. Try as we may we could not get the screen to display the image full screen without toolbars. In the end I went back to the mac and using Fotomajico created a quicktime movie of the images. That at least I could display as I wanted it.
The second challenge was to get the image into a portrait orientation rather the natural landscape. The answer was to put the projector on its side but this meant holding it rather than having it on a stand. So once again I was like a one-armed paperhanger with the projector in my right arm and firing the camera with my left.
The results this time were much better than the first attempt however we still had the issue that the image was spilling from the model onto the backdrop. This does not occur in the ones that I was trying to replicate.
I have therefore come to the conclusion that images were produced by having the model go into a position in front of the projector and then the shadows are drawn so that they only fall on the model.
Those who have looked through this blog will realise that water tends to play a major part in my outdoor natural light shoots. The issue that you run into though is finding a place that is safe for the model as well as not too public so that you can try out options without offending people.
Now the weather in the Wellington region is not really conducive to outdoor swimming pools so it is not that easy to find one. However just before Christmas i saw an ad for a kids paddling pool that was 1.6m long, 600mm wide and 400mm deep. It sounded like it would be perfect as you could shoot full length in relative safety, and at only $20 was pretty cheap.
I had not actually planned any shoots with the pool when i was contacted me by Rebekkah (who I had shot before) who wanted to do a water shoot with Kristara (who I have shot on a number of occasions). They wanted the water to be cloudy so that it was only an implied nude as well as there being flowers in the water.
I filled the pool up two days before the shoot in the hope that the sun would have a chance to warm the water because I knew that in unheated water there is a very definite amount of time before the goosebumps start growing on top of other goosebumps.
We had had a really dry January so it was a little bit of a downer that it was planning to rain on the day of the shoot. We decided to proceed because the girls were going to get wet anyway and I knew that shooting with overcast conditions was actually better for the colours and light control than a clear blue shy day.
Now the pool holds over 500 litres of water so I was really not sure what to add to get the desired milky effect. Google was absolutely no use as it kept bringing me to examples of using a slow shutter speed to make moving water appear milky. In the end the suggestion was that simply add milk, but how much was the question. I bought a three litre bottle of full cream milk and just before the shoot starting to add it. Just over a litre produced the desired effect.
Both girls were wearing black which when we went to fuller length showed up to well so I suggested that they be removed and replaced with Grape leaves which covered very well.
Rebekkah had also seen some shots of water running down a face so we tried that. Getting the correct amount of water flow and the angle of the head was a bit of trial and effort and it is not something you can do without an assistant.
Kristara and I had planned a nude shoot in the past which never quite timed right so before she froze I shot a full length in the water.
You may have noticed no pool edges in the images. Basically they were removed in photoshop.
I am really pleased with the way that the pool performed and the models appear happy with the finished results.
Sometimes the best way forward, is to admit that what you are doing has gone of the rails, and the best way to fix it is to start again.
This was certainly the case when I started out to build the composite of the Art Class together. In Part One of this blog post I went through how the image was shot and that because a number of models had been unable to make it, I had to shoot it as a composite and assemble it in Photoshop.
I selected the best images in lightroom and starting with the elements closest to the viewer, combined them as layers in photoshop masking out what I wanted to show through. After an hour I has a reasonable first cut. In order to save space I had only copied in the part of the element that I wanted rather than leaving a full layer.
I had an issue with shadows on the wall but other than that the image looked ok. The problem was that I did not want the viewer to immediately see that they were only two artists. Despite the fact that they had changed hair styles it was too obvious.
With Sian (redhead) adding a couple of extra tattoos and changing her hair colour made sufficient difference. But nothing I did really worked with Kylie so at that point I contacted Renee (who has been sick on the day) to see if she was available to shoot.
Once I had that image and tried to incorporate it the composite started to fall apart.
I could not get the light to look consistent across the image and elements were not lining up. I also realised that I had cropped off the heels and needed to enlarge the canvas at the bottom and rebuild the missing part of the heel. Then I discovered that some of the elements on the layers that I had discarded was actually needed. After 45 minutes of struggling and getting nowhere fast I decided that the best approach was to scrap it and start again.
This time I started with the empty room which I enlarged slightly at the bottom so that I had space to deal with the missing heel. I placed the girls at the back first, balanced the exposure and then moved forward. Admittedly incorporated Renee into the image was the hardest element as she was not shot in the same environment and some more work is still needed there, as the feet are not there yet. Unfortunately feet are the hardest part of a composite to get right, and the usual techinques (not showing them, or making the area around them very dark) are not available to me.
Given that I have plenty of time before I have to exhibit the image I am sure that I will get it looking right by then. If you want to learn more about composites then the best resource I have found are the videos produced by Aaron Nace at www.phlearn.com
Sometimes the time between getting an idea and actually executing it can be a long interval. About two years ago when my wife was doing art school and bringing home lots of drawings from her “life studies” classes, I got the idea to create a satirical image based on a class. In that I wanted to revert the roles whereby the model was clothed and all the class were nude.
I never really took it further than a concept but this year I decided that I needed to actually bring it to life as I am planning on submitting it for an exhibition next year. So I booked a studio and posted a casting call as well as contacting a number of models who had taken part in the body painting competitions. I also thought it would be more satirical if the model was male, as most life art models are female.
By the end of casting I has six models selected as artists and a male model, and everything seemed to be going to plan.
As often happens that plan went out the window when the male model and two female models became unavailable, then one got sick and then on the day two didn’t show. So having gone from being able to do the whole shoot in a single image I had a male model (Jacob) and two female artists (Sian and Kylie). This was going to change the way that the image was put together.
Below are a series of images and explanations of the various shots that made up the final image.
The first priority was to determine what f-stop would give me sufficient depth of field (DOF) to ensure that my model and artists were in sufficient focus. Generally the DOF runs from one third in front, and two thirds behind the focus point. In the case of my image that focus point was to be on the male model.
With the camera set on the tripod i estimated that f9 would be a good starting point, and with the help of a willing volunteer we shot two images. The camera was set to Aperture priority and the lights were not turned on at this stage.
My guess was correct and so we now turned the lights on and made sure that the exposure was at f9 where the front easels were positioned.
Knowing that shoot had now become a composite the first image taken was of an empty room that would enable me to use as a base.
At this stage the lighting was from two lights fitting with 1 metre soft boxes positioned at 45 degrees to the camera. You can see the lighting by the shadows cast.
Having only two models, and sox easels meant that they would be shot three times. I started with the right hand side of the image. At this stage Jacob was only in position to give the girls a reference point.
I then moved the girls to the other side and repositioned a light so that it was providing f9 at the point where Jacob was standing so that from this series i Would select one for Jacob.
We then moved Jacob out of the way, and moved both lights forward and metered the rear easels to f9 and shot the girls at the back of the room.
I then positioned a light back on the central spot and had Jacob strike a pose. I took the camera off the tripod and moved to a position behind each easel and shot what the artist standing there would have seen.
I thought that I had everything I needed for the image but as I was working through the composite (which will be in part 2) I realised that an element was not working. I decided that I needed a third model in the shot so I contacted Renee (who was the sick one) and a fortnight after the original shoot she came round home and we shot her.
Getting the angles, and the distance right was the hardest part of the set up here.
In part two I will go into putting the image together.
The genesis for this workshop came out of the blue when I received an email from an American model Brynn Cook who was visiting New Zealand and basically funding part of her trip by doing shoots on the weekend. Now I do not normally pay for models, but Brynn was stunning and I thought it was a great opportunity to organise a group shoot with a number of others.
In the end 5 photographers took part. I took the role of co-ordinator/timekeeper so that everyone had a fair run at the lights.
Brynn was an absolute professional and helped put the others with suggested poses.
What was really funny was that when we started I thought I would have to cast lots to select the order as I had assumed everyone would want to go first. In fact the opposite happened and I had to choose the order.