Tuesday, 27 May 2014

The Same, But Different

These images came from a collaboration with make up artist Caja Dan and model Emma (Emerald on Model Mayhem).The idea was to shoot some mirror images and then composite the images together to show different expressions in the 'original' and mirror image Emmas.

I shot two exposures of each pose, one focused on Emma, and one on her reflection - this gave me maximum flexibility to mix and match during post producation. Eyes are usually the primary point of focus in portrait imagery, and I stuck with that convention. However I also wanted the reflected eyes to be reasonably sharp, which due to the wide aperture used and close proximity of camera to subject , wasn't the case when focusing on 'real' Emma.

Emma was brilliant to shoot with; she had to be very disciplined in the same way that a model posing for an artist might be; the slightest movement of her head between shots would interfere with the compositing process, so all she could move were her eyes and mouth. Sounds simple enough, but we naturally tend to move our heads a little when someone is speaking to us or giving direction.

The lighting needed to be controlled quite precisely too. Although skin may be softened in Photoshop, it's always best to start with a photo that is kind to the skin straight out of the camera. I used a medium octabox as the main light, with a white reflector to fill in the shadows a little. The octabox had to be positioned so as not to glare in the mirror, flatter the skin, whilst also providing some modelling or definition. Using the reflector as fill (rather than a second flash) prevented issues with glare as it was directly in front of the mirror.

Whilst a fan of all-in editing (which is not to everyone's taste) I don't normally go for sfx that are really obviously artificial. However, I thought it might be interesting to create a variant that presented a 'negative' of Emma as the reflection.
Most of the compositing in this series was relatively straight forward, requiring basic manipulation of layers, layer masks, selection tools and blending modes.  This last image was a little more time consuming as the 'join' involved a lot more contrast between the two source images, so needed to be particularly smooth.