Last weekend I realised I was lacking stock imagery to use in my concept work. I duly grabbed the camera, ran out the door and jumped in the car. A handy tip for you all, make sure your TomTom is charged before you leave! Despite plugging it into the lighter socket of the car, it took a while before it had enough juice to power up.
That aside I swung by a friends house and picked up fellow photographer and queen of vintage Jess Hawkins, so between us we had enough gadgets to plug the SatNav gap. First on the agenda was a ruin we've had our eye on for a while but never frequented. The first destination was the ruins of St. Peter's Church up in Alresford which is close to the the lovely and historic town of Colchester. Up until about 1971 the church was in use but was destroyed by fire leaving little but the four walls standing.
The ruins seem to have gained notoriety with local ghost hunters who claim to have seen figures lurking in the dark. There are plenty of things that would spring to my mind to explain away figures lurking in bushes... and ghosts wouldn't be one of them! That said Jess did experience a dead tree which vibrated with force while walking through the graveyard! Perhaps it was someone buried a while back still pulling at the bell to be let out... who knows!
Any how, the location served me well as I was able to capture some decent images for my stock. In this image I used my trusty 50mm lens and took multiple shots which I later stitched together using the photomerge feature in Photoshop. A few days later I slipped into that saucy number and donned my brown weave. I used a key light (Canon 600EX-RT flashgun) pointing straight up at the ceiling, a fill light pointing at the wall on the left (Yongnuo YN600EX-RT) and a grey backdrop. I did a ton of shots to cover different angles, moods and even some jumping to imply movement. There were a couple of the jump shots I liked but I felt they didn't really work for the final image.
I dropped in a series of leaves which I had used for one of my other projects 'Up and Go', always nice to re-use stock you've already created! The idea was to show a trail of floating leaves coming in to the scene, wrapping themselves around the subject and then exiting the scene through the window. The window on the left was open sky and because of the brightness I found it pulled my attention away from the main subject. To stop/reduce this from happening I took some trees from another image and filled up the window space.
I wanted to imply a lot of light in this scene but also to reinforce the direction of light already found in the background plate. A number of layers were added where I used white gradients and blobs of white circles which then had motion blur applied. I also wanted to keep the highlights/overall tone of the image white. In other images I generally add a orange/yellow layer to add warmth but this time around I wanted to try something different and I think overall it's worked.
I'm quite pleased with how the image has turned out. The use of colour on the leaves and increased saturation helps bring the image to life. In post production I did notice that the pattern from my striped underwear was showing through the shirt! Thankfully not a deal breaker given I could spend some time editing it out. Next time I'd probably just go commando or buy something that matches my skin tone.
I also noticed halfway through editing that the fill light was a little strong and it had cast my left hands shadow onto the shirt. This I felt implied a light source coming from the left of which doesn't exist in the scene. So I created some stretched shadowing to change the direction of the implied lighting.
What I also found tricky with this image was the busy background, all that stone work! It kinda drowned the subject out a bit. There wasn't much separation and it made it hard on the eye to focus on the subject. For some reason the hair-light approach in flash photography popped into my head. I created a white round brush mark behind my subject, applied a Gaussian blur and turned down the opacity. And it worked a treat! It gave enough separation between the two layers that my eye had no problems resting on the subject.
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You can view and purchase this image from my 500px portfolio: http://loganfox.photography/small-steps