Wednesday, 20 October 2010

A creative use of flowers

Well, it's the second week of 365 and I'm still going strong, I love this project so much. It really tests you and drives you to do better pictures. So yesterday, I was in the studio again, large tea and toast nearby while I got ready to set up. It was a lot of fun, and involved flowers, petals, glue and my face. And a ring flash. I've included images of the setup I had, along with failed photos with reasons as to why I consider them failed, so to give you insight into my thought process as I work.

First of all though, here's some recent photos from the project:

More can be found over at my Flickr photostream.

As you can see, I'm having a lot of fun with it.

Now, on to yesterday!

First of all I acquired the roses, which was no easy task. There's only one florist, and she was a bit reluctant to sell me the sorry-looking roses. In the end however I managed to get them for a very cheap price and made my way back over to college. I bought some artificial flowers too as a backup plan but they weren't needed. I'll use them for something else.

I set up, and figured a beauty dish and a reflector (read: bit of polystyrene) resting on my chest would give me the best lighting.

Vignette due to me trying and failing to remove flare with lens hood

Neat huh? Well, not really. It gave me this:

Incidentally, this type of lighting is called "Butterfly Lighting"
"What's wrong with that?" I hear you asking. "It looks fine to me, nice soft shadows, good tonal detail and even coverage. Am I missing something?"

No, you're not missing anything. But the photo is. Sure, it's fine from the front, and would be great for some portraits with dramatic lighting, but it's not what I'm after. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to the rim-light.

It really is a flash. Not a gun.
See that flash with a snoot hanging behind the chair like a spider? That's the rim-light. This is where it gets interesting. Using a rim-light, as above, gives me this effect:

The edge of my head and shoulders have been illuminated in a subtle way, making me stand out from the dark background rather than blend into it. This little pop of light isn't powerful enough for me though, so I tweak with the flashes, get myself ready by curling my hair, putting on makeup and gluing on the petals and leaves. I took a load of photos, but before I show you the final image, here's an unaltered (apart from cropping it down) version with a ring flash. I was curious as to how it looked, and it was clear from the get-go that it wasn't going to work:

So, why doesn't it work? It's too harsh for the atmosphere I'm after. It's great for no-nonsense "I've got attitude" or "I'm really happy" portraits, though not so great for times when you've constructed a flower on your face. So, away the ring flash goes for another day.

I had a bit of help from the technician, John (who is amazing at what he does and very helpful), we altered the light setup a little bit, moving the rim-light off to camera left and bringing it closer. We also moved the beauty dish around a bit but I decided I liked it in its original position.

After tinkering around in Photoshop I came up with this:

Click for larger image!

So that's how I did that!

Oh, and just for laughs, here's a video of me removing the petals and leaves. It was just as much work taking them off as it was putting them on! But it gives you an idea of how I attached them, and it might give you a giggle.

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