Friday, June 4, 2010

Whipstress

Continuing the celebration of Gothic Chicks from the last shoot (Sorceress) and (Lady On A Blue Chair) , I present today's combination of mistress, leather, and a damn big whip.

The image today is interesting because aside from the signature, all of the changes to the image were done in Camera RAW with a *lot* of attention to composition and crop.

Posing The Scene
This is one of the more complex pieces I have done as far as scene composition goes.  The idea to add a new level of challenge to the images is starting to be a trend in my recent projects, and this is a great example of that.  The S curve in the pipe on the right is where it started.  I decided to work on a repeating S shape in the image and see just how far I can take it.  I arranged the whip in a loose S shape as well as the model, working a rather non-conventional pose for the shot.  The shadow was intentionally thrown hard against the wall behind her in an attempt to produce another S curve type of play (partial success here).  It took a few shots to get it all to come together, but I am very pleased with the outcome.

The Golden Ratio Crop
To add another level of complexity, I decided to work this image at an angle when I shot it to add tension to the photo, but I got an added benefit with a minor crop adjustment.

The "golden-ratio" is a pleasing image composition used by many traditional masters, and was made famous by Leonardo DaVinci in more modern times, but appears in nature constantly.  You can read about it on Wikipedia if you are interested, but you might be overwhelmed by the math (as I was, and I went to school for Physics).  Basically we want a growing number of rectangles that pass through key points of the image.  By adjusting the crop, I was able to get that to work, which made me a damn happy camper.  If you can get this to happen in your images, you will find they are quite pleasing to the viewer for a reason they cannot explain.  So, try working it into compositions if you have complete control over the situation so you can get these bonus points as well.  I know Lightroom has an overlay for this, you can get to it by pressing "O" while in the crop tool.  Shift-O will allow you to change the orientation of the tool, so always worth a look if you are close to this crop anyway.


Lighting The Model
As stated before we are going to try for a curvy shadow, and in order to do that we need a defined edge.  Because this model has perfect skin, we can really abuse her with a harsh light.  Also, given the subject matter of the image, a soft light seems counter intuitive.  So, we will use an unmodified (i.e. bare bulb) type of source.

We will not need a lot of power for this shot, as I am literally at the end of the whip, laying on the floor.  I put a Nikon SB900 speedlight on that cute little stand that comes with it just off to the right, sitting on the floor and angled up a bit at her mid-section.  I used Nikon CLS to trigger this (I love CLS!).  I was using a wide angle lens, so I know we will get distortion, but the whip is the first object to get hit, so this will work out to be very dynamic.

Post Processing
As stated before this is 99.99% Camera RAW.  I do use the RAW interface in Lightroom quite often, but I mostly access this tool from the smart object in photoshop.  Either case works, it just depends on your preferences and the tool in use at the time.  Now, to adjust this we will want to really push the gritty factor up as much as possible.  Settings I used were dramatic increases (sometimes at 100%) for recovery, fill light, black-point, clarity, and vibrance.  While decreasing things like saturation.  I don't want to give you the exact forumla, as I feel you should go and play with the tool, not replicate my exact recipe.  I don't mind giving it to you if you *really* want it, I just suggest you play with it and learn to fish, rather than me giving you the fish.

Total time to complete ~5 minutes.