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Rolling with the BIG Dog Part 12 - part 2 of 1 2 3 4

by Damian McGillicuddy Published 01/10/2011

So what did I do and why did I do it:

This image for me is about soft sensuous shape in relaxed form. The colour palette is limited so that the unusual and vibrant colour of the model's hair draws the viewer's eye into the obvious focal point of the image, the beautiful Ms Vex.

When I speak with new members of the profession it often creates a wry smile on my face when the penny drops that it's not just a matter of pointing the camera and clicking away if you intend your imagery to have richer and deeper meaning. The location, quality of light, posing and propping of the image, in fact every aspect of everything held within the compositional frame need careful consideration.

The 'room' colour was not an accident, the voile and curtain colour was not by chance, the subject was commissioned for her 'look' and all go towards producing the impact designed into the image...as always it comes down to - what are you trying to say, as an artist what message do you want to send the viewer of your creation? Surely just a 'likeness' falls way short these days?

Ok, so concept locked in, how did we realise the image? There's only two lights used to create this image. The key or main light was an Elinchrom Ranger Quadra. Now because I wanted soft, creamy yet directional light I modified the head by fitting it to my 'BIG Softie', a massively adaptable, highly efficient, super soft light modifier that is as portable as my other modifiers!


The key was placed to camera-right and slightly behind the subject so the light 'skims' across the planes of the subject, creating depth, shape and form. Note how soft and subtle the shadows are in the image, no deep dark, dense blacks to draw the eye!

The second light becomes an effects light. It's placed behind the fake 'window' we built out of MDF in the studio. Its intensity was controlled and diffused firstly by an industry product called 'Tuffspun' that was put into the window in place of the glass. It was then further diffused, spread and softened by the voile and the curtain material. I'm sure you'll agree it does a very good imitation of strong early morning window light!

I decided to shoot at f4.5 as I wanted to limit the depth of field and create differential focus and 'stand' the subject off the background, the key was set to expose for f4.5. The second light, the one behind the window, was set to approximately EV +1 to the key. Simplicity is often the most effective approach to creating visual harmony.

The strength of the image comes from the simplicity! The sensuality from the 'S' curves inherent in the model's pose and the strong dynamic in the composition, employing the rule of thirds and the use of the 'white' space to allow the subject to 'breathe' within the compositional frame.

What about post:

As is my normal mantra 'less is more' and it should be enhancement and not rescue! The normal retouching of skin blemishes and imperfections was carried out and then a beautiful 'gloss over' with Aperture's fantastic skin-softening brush. Finally just a tweak of colour saturation to make the vibrant hair even more vibrant.

Contact Damian McGillicuddy

1st Published 01/10/2011
last update 12/11/2019 13:27:13



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