Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Safawarda

Often models use a pseudonym when they are working with people.  I suspect this is because some of the folks that come to these paparazzi photo events are kinda creepy.  We call them "guys with cameras", but indeed they might not all be males and perhaps are unidentifiable members of either group.  Anyway I digress... the model I shot on this occasion was Safawarda, and I assume this is her modeling nickname to avoid stalkers and zealous creepy photographers that just want to see random boobies.


Safa is always awesome to work with because she is a posing machine.  She will move from pose to pose in seconds and each is unique and often pretty bizarre (chalk her up some points for limberness).   As you know most of the time I have an image in mind, but on this occasion I was at a group event and she was next on the list for me to shoot.  So, she did what she does for everyone else and performs her posing magic while I light her and take pics.  I do this while scores of people watch and sneak underexposed shots of my work (cause they don't have my trigger frequency).  I hate group events for this reason and tend to camp out away from everyone else and then go kidnap a model for a while.

Because she does this posing thing for everyone, I wanted to be sure the image I created was unique compared to the others at the event.  I despise group shoots where everyone gets the same image, so I wanted to depart from that with the finished product that is really different and work this more into a poster type of image.

Lighting the Model
I was using one large softbox for this shot and it was placed camera left and it up pretty high, and you can see it in the original shot (I did that on purpose, just for you... no really).  This is one of my trusty Alien Bees with their large softbox on it.  I wuv muh beez!

Post Production
Ok, so here is where we depart from the reality others will produce and really artsy up the image.  First we do our retouching and fix anything the model will hate (not always what I will hate).  For example, she has a bruise on her leg I will remove, but I know she will think her leg looks fat because the thigh of the back leg is pressing on the front one in this pose.  So, we will use liquify to remedy that.  No one wants to show off a photo that they think makes them look fat.

We will also handle the armpit and other areas of the human body that just never photograph well.  I used the patch tools as well as dodge and burn here to make the tone even, not so much remove the texture.  Dodge and Burn are your primary go-to tools for skin work, get used to them as they don't remove texture and can give the skin the even tone you want.

Digital Photo Manipulation
Okay, now onto the fun part.  I want to make this photo appear to be much more painterly and "poster-like" and obviously not photo realistic.  Much like my previous image I am shooting for a drawn look to the image, nothing realistic as I stated before.  So, first thing we need to do is eliminate some of her texture.  Yes, that hurts, but if we leave it in there she will appear out-of-place with the other things we have planned.  So, I use some blurring to remove her skin texture.  Please note that I did save this as another file before I moved to this destructive phase.  I may want to use the retouched version with skin texture later in life, so don't destroy that which is usable.  After I get the texture toned down I apply a pretty strong curve and set that adjustment layer to soft light, which will increase the brightness of her skin as well as the contrast.  This is already looking pretty artistic, but we not need to add some background and foreground interest.

Adding Background Textures
The first thing I moved into place was a sky.  Of course this is applied with a blending mode and is going to be very subtle.  I also used a custom brush that makes little circles and stars and made some swirls around her.  This is one of those little touches I enjoy in images, so you will see it more often in the future as I post more of this type of work.

Working With Angles
Her arms and legs form a very dramatic pose as well as create some opportunity for playing with these angles.  I added some strips of white to the image that work parallel and perpendicular to the angles of her arms and leg.  I set the blending modes on these to various settings until I liked what they did to the cloud layer as well as to each other.

Final Touches
For the final touch we need to terminate this image on the bottom somehow, and a walk in the grass on such a bright day seems to be the ticket.  I create a custom brush of a large "grass blade" and then adjusted the scattering, color, and angle jitter until I was pleased with the swath of greenery that was created.  I choose to make the grass a color that worked better with the tonal palette I had in the rest of the image as green would have looked like ass.  Make sure to place growies some behind the model as well as in front to make the grass look convincing in depth.  Remember that objects in the distance are always desaturated and less contrasty then those in the front.  I added her name across this image so she could use it as an avatar, and I think it completed the "poster" look I was after.

That about wraps up this image.  Please let me know what you think.