Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bound Sacrifice

The image I want to discuss today is one I shot last evening and isn't exactly family friendly.  I had the image very clearly in my mind and knew exactly what I wanted.  Of course the challenge is conversion from brain to photo.

So, here is the description of the image, and once you read it you will understand why it is not shown on this page, but rather than toss it on the page I offer you a link at the bottom of the article for those of you who can click on it without getting fired.  I heavily suggest you read the post first before you look at the image so you can know what went into it first and then reverse engineer it knowing what I look for when you see it.

Imagine a female model bound with rope in a Shibari (縛り) or Kinbaku-bi (緊縛美) method, which is a type of Japanese bondage.  The pattern I selected is elegant and very easy to tie called the "Kikkou" or  Tortoise Shell.  It creates diamond shapes up the front of the torso and is then cross linked to itself around the sides.  In this case I had the model's husband do the rope-work with a little guidence on what I wanted.  In the end I wanted an image that contained no naughtly-bits, but tying that rope can probably be a bit intimate.  Since this model is very much into Shibari, her husband already knew how to do what I wanted done, and that was a huge time saver.

Anyway, so once she is bound and her wrists tied, I want her to be on her knees in a "summoning circle" with her hair blowing around while she is screaming.  Quite the intense image to be sure.  I also find it VERY helpful if the model actually does scream rather than just open her mouth.  The summoning circle was added in photoshop as well as some contrast and normal cleaning of blotches and so on.  I didn't care if the circle was really noticable or not, and I added a deep redness to be reminicement of blood.  This also helps highlight her red hair.

Lighting this was actually pretty simple.  The vast majority of the image was lit from a single AlienBee AB1600 into a 22" beauty dish directly overhead on a boom (2' above her). Again, the internal reflector was removed, so this is more of a halo-light than a typical beauty dish.  The brightest part of the light will be hitting her bound hands, not her face as they are directly under the flash-tube while her face is feathered into the softer light bouncing off the dish itself.  Speaking of which, the inside of the dish is white rather than silver, so the quality of the light is softer and less specular.  The secret to this image lies in the 10 degree grid that directs the light from this lamp straight down with little spill.  Because there is no backdrop here (just an open room beyond), I needed to shoot this without lighting junk in the background.  This light was metered at ƒ11 at the model's face and I ALWAYS shoot at 250th of a second when I use strobes (if you shoot Canon, you should use 180th).

Behind her is a HUGE fan that is blowing straight up.  Behind the fan is an AlienBee AB800 with a small strip box (my favorite modifier), and a 40 degree cloth grid as well as 2 red gels over the flash tube metered at ƒ8.  Because the softbox isn't "gel friendly", I just stuffed the gel into the box and almost wrap it over the tube.  Be careful not to actually touch the tube, as you can leave a bit of discoloration on the tube forever.  This strip-light shoots over the top of the fan and illuminates her hair and upper arms (not the sides).  The bad news is that this back-light  also lit the fan, as it is around 30" wide and was going to be in the shot no matter what I did.  So, I knew this was going to have to come out in post production and made sure to only light her shoulders so I could easily remove the fan which is quite a bit lower (no need to photoshop-cut around her arms if you can't see them, right?).  The other issue I had on this shot is that the AB800 in the background is just a bit too tall and did show up in over half of the exposures.  I ended up borrowing hair from 4 other images to hide the light in the shot I liked the best. Of course, I also borrowed hair for the other side as I really wanted the intensity of the movement to bee well rounded across the image.

Not really family friendly, please click only if you are ok with that fact: Bound Sacrifice


  1. Brilliant effect, Scott! Really enjoy your blog!

  2. Thanks Scott - loved the piccie on DA, and to read how you achieved it adds another dimension to that enjoyment - great work and, I'm sure, lots of fun!

  3. WOW! Talk about intense photography!

    That was incredibly powerful!

    I don't know what else to say. I'm in AWE!

    Great, Great, Great!

    Thanks for sharing this amazing photo!


  4. Just found your blog, great stuff.
    I really like the model's intensity in this one. Pure fury.
    Great lighting too!


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