Monday, February 7, 2011

And Now for Something Completely Different...

Ok, well, maybe not completely different, but definitely out of the norm for me.

Anyone who knows me or follows my blog at all, probably knows that my passion is portrait photography in all its forms.  I enjoy sharing time with my friends and family, and especially love to meet new people and to try to capture a memorable image of them.  However, occasionally I get this urge to shoot something different, or that I haven't done before and that's precisely what the image above is all about.

All through my life I have been fascinated with art.  Coming from a family of artists and having a fiance' who is an amazingly talented artist, I guess that's to be understood, but even beyond that, I have always had this fascination with what people can envision and then create in various mediums.  I am particularly fond of the "Old Masters" and their acute ability to paint everything from people to ordinary objects in an incredibly realistic way.  Some of their works are so realistic that they almost appear to be old photographs.  So, I decided to try my hand at something that would appear to resemble one of these works.

The photo above took quite a bit more planning than I originally would have thought.  Every time I got an item placed where I thought it would look the best, I would take a look through my viewfinder and then re-compose the setup again.  It took several times before I got a composition I was happy with, and I knew I wanted to capture smoke from the candle to add a different element to a typical still-life composition.  That took several tries at lighting the candle then blowing it out and waiving the smoke with my hand to get a direction that I liked.  Once I got my composition where I wanted, then I set about lighting it.

Actually for me, the lighting was the easy part.  I knew I wanted to make this appear to be window light, so I used a medium sized softbox camera left at about window height (pretty relative here) and took the photo.  Something still didn't seem quite right so I took a few more shots and just looked at them (love my LCD).  Then it hit me, there needs to be a little warm glint of light hitting the background to make it look more like sunlight coming through the window (and I'm just fond of warm toned images).  So I took out a trusty speedlight, put a 1/2 CTO gel over it, placed a Honl grid on it, and dialed the power down fairly low (I think around 1/32 power).  I then positioned this light right beside my softbox but closer to the background and angled down fairly sharply so it would rake the background.  Then I took another shot.  That was it!

Since I wanted this to look more like a painting than a photo, I did a little more post work than I would normally do which basically means I kept applying different layers of filter effects at different opacities until I found one I liked.  I would go in to this more, but I don't remember exactly what I did, and I'm definitely not a Photoshop guru. :)

I shot this at f/16 to maintain detail, at ISO 200 around 1/250 of a second and on a tripod.  This was a fun experiment for me, so much so that I plan on doing more of these somewhere down the road.

Oh, and there was a point to this blog post other than blathering on like an idiot and that is that sometimes its cool to shoot something out of the ordinary than what you're normally accustomed to.  If you're a photographer than I'd be willing to bet that you will eventually find yourself shooting the same subject matter, or styles, or lenses, or or or ...you know, the same stuff over and over again.  So if you feel like you're in a creative rut, or just want to explore different venues of photography, then step out of your comfort zone and try something different!

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