Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cosmic Girl - OcUK Photo Comp August

The August theme was Cosmic and this immediately brings to mind things like stars and light trails and anything to do with the heavens. Unfortunately I don't much like to adhere to the stereotypes so much like many of my other entries I thought out of the box.

The idea I came up with was based around the classic super hero look of a female super hero encompassed in energy floating upward whilst objects in her immediate vicinity floated also.

Much like this:

Kim and I headed out to our local park first thing in the morning once the sun was at a decent height. I didn't want to do it too late because the length of the shadows were quite important for me.

I initially took a series of photos from a way back using the Sigma 10-20mm lens but this caused a couple of issues. The first and most obvious is that with the lens being at 10mm there were some issues with it being too far away and there not being reasonable detail in the shot. The second was that being so far back the height that I could get Kim to jump at did not lend itself to the illusion of height.

So I moved the camera closer and also had a re-think on the eventual composition. My initial idea was to get as many random objects as possible floating around the circular area including perhaps my neighbors baby and perhaps a small dog. Not having any small dogs nor the baby at hand I changed my mind and went for things that were every day stuff but also as contextual as possible.

We start with a mostly empty photo:

The next trick was the actual photo taking. My first take on the process involved Kim standing on the step ladder and posing with the follow up a result of getting her to jump off the ladder and catching her mid air. After the first couple of attempts with the jumping off the step ladder I figured that I had to change the approach.

I had the top half of her sorted from the above shot so the next trick was to get her bottom half looking like she was floating. Obviously the jumping was the right direction on this - short of getting a harness and a crane which are slightly out of my means. The main issue here is that there is only so high a person can jump so I resolved to address the issue in the post work. Kim being the absolute soul of tolerance jumped up and down quite a few times each time with a variation on her foot positioning until I got what I was looking for.

You'll notice that the shadow and the feet are significantly lower than in the final image - it was purely in the post work that I shifted both Kim and her shadow upward to add to the illusion of height.

The next trick was floating stuff. This bit was pretty easy - I just got Kim to run around with various objects and either hold them or throw them ensuring that the objects shadows were easily resolved and her fingers were not overlapping the camera facing edges. I also got her to chase a couple of pigeons to give the shot a bit of movement.

The end result is a very basic composite of all the shots - if you have a clean background to work with then painting out any of the other layered shots is a very simple process. For balance sakes I moved some of the objects and their shadows around, straightened the image (my tripod is rubbish) and worked with the levels a bit. I cleaned up Kims arms because I had over exposed them a bit by using a brush created from her own skin where it was exposed properly and finally chucked a boarder around it.

End result:
Cosmic Girl

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