Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I spied this old freight elevator almost as soon as I came in the door. To my joy, as well as great concern, it was also the mechanism we needed to employ to get to the attic where I planned to shoot. To many stairs and too much equipment makes for a longer day.
Posing the Model
I wanted to play with the corner of the elevator box and get a lot of vertical lines. The texture inside was pretty sweet, so I wanted a pose that was tall, yet sexy. Basically I let her do her thing as I snapped away. I don't typically work this way, but she knows how to move what she has, so let's just let her do her thing and I shut-up for once. :-)
Lighting the Model
The elevator area is devoid of lighting as far as I was concerned. The tiny light bulb that was at the top of the cage wasn't worthy or powerful enough for a make-n-bake oven, let alone to use for photography. To complicate things this elevator isn't very large and the opening is even smaller. The only way to light it is to "throw" light back into the box. There are two ways one could do that that pop into my mind: 1) Use a very large 6' soft box nearly covering the entire door, or 2) use a gridded light and direct the beam to specially where I wanted it to go. To me the choice was easy as I really love higher contrast images, and the large softbox would make the light flat and even. Secondly I didn't have a huge soft box with me, so you can see how easy of a decision this really was to make. I used a 22" beauty dish with a 10 degree grid on it. It was nearly at full power to get the light to the back of the elevator and through that tight grid.
Post Production with Photoshop
I had a few goals with the post processing of the images I shot with her in the attic, and the big ones were enhancement of the textures of this grubby place, and the second was making sure she remained hot as could be. The second one isn't very difficult, so we work mostly with the dirt.
First thing I did was to work on the color. Often I will wait until later to do this if I don't really know what I want the final image to resemble, but in this case I saw it the moment it appeared on the back of the camera. I desaturated the image quite a bit as I tend to prefer that by using a hue adjustment layer. The elevator really is the gray color you see in the image. This isn't some sort of selective color thing (which I am generally not a fan of), so I just wanted to point that out in case you were wondering.
Secondly as you can see in the original there are some dumb stickers and warnings on the wall of the elevator that do cause the eye to wonder where to go first in the image. I decided these had to go and did a quick/sloppy removal using the clone stamp and a brush.
For the final touches I wanted to really pop the grittiness of this space and the best tool for that is.... (drum roll please)... the Burn Tool! Yes folks, this tool (set to around 11%), will bring out the gritty in anything it hits. Used in conjunction with the Dodge Tool you can really make things pop. I created a duplicate of the final image using merge before I went nuts with this as I didn't want to screw up the nearly completed image. Once I was done, I strategically placed my signature in the shot and called this one done. I would like to point out that I am a fan of my signature NOT being something that attracts the eye, but is easy to locate if one is looking to find it. I am often annoyed with photographers that put some awful watermark or super colorful signature in an image in such a way as to confuse the eye.
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