Saturday, November 25, 2006

It's a Process


I think the best thing is the long, long weekend. I woke up this morning after seeing The Hold Steady @ Maxwell's last night thinking it was Sunday. Nope. Reprieve!

Took my girl to see BORAT tonight. Her first time. My second. Still holds up. In fact, not having to deal with the sheer frequency of slapstick/intellectual humor allowed me to focus on the sheer genius of it all. The pre-production must have been an absolute hoot.

I'm envious. But anyway, I take pictures...And so...

...since I described the way I shoot the Chair series in the second to last post, I thought it would be cool to actually show the steps toward making the final image.

I'm shooting Sheena tomorrow for both the Chair series and the Bunny series and that is cool. I've worked with her before and we get along famously. When I contacted her about shooting, she wrote back. "LOL...yea I kinda figured after lookin at your recent stuff that I would get caught up in the naked on a chair scene."

Ya gotta love that in a model...

Well, here's the Naked on a Chair Scene, dissected, exploded and semi-explained - the process, not the secrets:

EXHIBIT #1 - The Chair

The chair must be unique, that is to say, unlike any of the other chairs in the Chair series. The chair must have a strange, circular light under it. The chair must be able to support a full-grown model. The chair must not obscure the models boots, i.e. black chair bleeds into black boots. Chairs usually come with hotel rooms, although this particular fleabag in Midtown did not come with a chair. I requested one from the management and without a question, he gave me this one from the office, where he was watching some sort of Indian sports program. Stability was tested and it was determined that this chair would serve just fine. This is also the step where the entire room is art directed and production designed. There was a huge wooden shelf in the corner that had to be relocated (see EXHIBIT #2) and a bunch of corn chips (or something!) on the floor that had to be swept out of the frame. You can see the beginnings of that strange circular light in this shot. Also notice the phone that is screwed into the wall that the model will need to hide with her pose. The model's hair and makeup happens during this part of the process.

EXHIBIT #2 - The Model

At this point, hair and makeup is complete and the model (or an assistant, but preferably the model) stands in to be lit. As any real photographer knows, lighting is about balance, reflection and intensity. Since I am replicating an existing lighting schematic (see EXHIBIT #3) I spend a lot of time here getting the model's face to read at one level (or f-stop), while the rest of her body is at another level and the surface of the chair and her boots is at another level. The background also has to be lit, and the strange, circular light under the chair has to be maintained relative to all the other light, it being the brightest. This is the fun part. This is also the part where I direct the model as to the pose for the shot. I also determine and lock into the camera placement vertically and horizontally, which often places me under a table or levitating about 2 1/2 feet off the ground upside-down.

EXHIBIT #3 - The Lighting Schematic

This is the actual lighting schematic for the Chair series. It was drawn on a bar napkin a couple of days ago while I was explaining all the complexities of these shots to my girl while we were having a few drinks. She put it into her back pocket and walked around with it for the rest of the evening. When I asked her for it, she produced something that vaguely looked like a cigarette that had been machine washed from her pocket and gave it to me. I think the texture just adds to the coolness of it. When I gave it back to her, I initialed it and dated it and told her to sell it immediately upon my death. That and $.75 will get her a cup of coffee here, as long as she goes to the cheap deli. Look closely - all the secrets are here! If this gets into the forums on Model Mayhem on OMP, I'll be ruined!

EXHIBIT #4 - The Final Product

I usually shoot about 20-30 shots of the set-up for the final. At 1600 asa. I pick the best one based on facial expression and posture, clean it up a little in Photoshop, run it through my "custom" Photoshop recipe and out pops another chick on a chair.

Like I said, 9 down, 4 or 5 more to go...


ian said...

"I also determine and lock into the camera placement vertically and horizontally, which often places me under a table or levitating about 2 1/2 feet off the ground upside-down."

I love this line... it's so representative of how we do what we do. Makes my lower back ache just thinking about it!

hypolux said...

haha - "if it gets out"

see, if it involves thinking or doing, most people block it out almost instantaneously so your secret is safe w. me

...and call me crazy but - contortionism...well, I always thought it was a plainly reasonable way to approach certain things.

Anonymous said...

The chair should have wheels.