Thursday, June 18, 2009

Photoshoot and Followup


This is the result of a photo shoot I did the other day, followed by some work with the GIMP. I thought I'd share some of went into this image - the "behind the scenes," if you will, as I rarely talk about how I set up shots or how I edit and so on. I normally just give the finished product. I found it easier to write this as a list rather than as a cohesive whole.

Fact 1: I'd had this image planned out in my head for a few months.

Fact 2: I set up and wrote on my arms while playing Flyleaf's album way too loud.

Fact 3: I needed a room where light sources could easily be controlled, so I went to the same place I always do for shoots like this - the bathroom, which has no windows.

Fact 4: The black backdrop is courtesy of my brother's cloak

Fact 5: The black words were written with dry erase marker. "LOVE" originally was as well, but the red dry erase marker didn't show up as well as it needed to, so I went over it with sharpie.

Fact 6: The lamp I usually use for lighting went dead at the crucial moment. I still needed a directed light source. My solution? Seven candles and an oil lamp clustered around the sink in front of the mirror. Not as bright as I really wanted, but with some help from my camera's flash, it worked.

Fact 7: I was using self-timer for this, obviously. I stacked up books between the candles and put the camera on top of that - because the mirror was behind the camera I could see the view screen reflected from where I was sitting and could adjust as necessary (yes, I planned it that way).

Fact 8: I was doing this in a limited amount of time. I wanted it to be done before my siblings got home, and I wasn't sure exactly how much time I'd have. Fortunately they got back later than I expected.

Fact 9: The battery ran out after the first few shots. I dashed to the charger and plugged in the battery for about 5 minutes, to give it just enough power that I could hurriedly get better shots.

Fact 10: It gets very, very hot in a small, enclosed room in summer with little ventilation when you have 7 candles and an oil lamp burning.

Fact 11: It took a few minutes to scrub off all the writing afterwards, but much less time than if I'd used black sharpie (as I know from past experience).

Fact 12: The shot I ended up most satisfied with was the last one I took, which is unusual. Normally when I do multiple shots of the same thing, it's the first or the second I like best, and I never manage to capture it any better on the following takes.

Fact 13: I knew before I took the picture that I'd be grayscaling it, which turned out to be a good thing. Because of the interesting lighting issues, I had to do some shadow correction, which is much easier when working with all gray tones.

Fact 14: Basic outline of everything I did to the image in GIMP: I cropped it. I desaturated it. I increased the contrast. I darkened all the colors except the skin and hair. I used the smudge tool to make the hair look smoother. I used the airbrush tool to correct the shadows around the face. I increased the contrast on the arms so the writing shows up better. I went to the layer of the original, colored image (when doing image manipulation, I almost always leave an untouched version of the picture as a separate layer - it's very helpful) and selected just the word "LOVE." I copied it onto a new layer. I made it look smoother using airbrush, and darkened and lessened the saturation so that the red blended better. (If you're curious, this is the image I started out with: click)

Fact 15: This was supposed to be stylized, so if it looks rather "fake," that's fine. It didn't turn out exactly as I wanted, and I may be playing around with it more, but all things considered I really can't complain.

- Elraen -


Mary said...

Love the image, and loved reading through the process. Awesome job.

Liz said...

From the moment I saw the photo I fell in love with it :)

Going through the process with you was kind of cool :)

Its still my desktop background