We've all seen them. A model wrapped in caution tape hiding the naughty bits, a person on rail road tracks. They are the "Cliche" shots. They are the shots that are so over done but yet your compelled to shoot them anyway.
Cliche shots include sunsets, sunrises, fireworks, macro's of flowers or bugs on flowers but we all continue to shoot them So obviously there are still reasons to shoot them. (Reader Note: Yes, you will find these in my photos as well.....)
Well there is a cliche shot I've been wanting to shoot for a very long time. That is the sun-dress clad woman walking aimlessly through a field of wild flowers or over grown grass.
This shot is usually shot at a low depth of field to help blur the foreground and background having the model and the plan she walks in being in focus.
Well I finally got my chance. Having done some indoor shots with the incredible model Evan Stacy
we moved outdoors. Now in the cliche version of this, she should be wearing a light color sun-dress. But we had been shooting a rocker girl look all day so we ended up with black pin-stripe pants and a black sheer top with a touch of pink trim.
After shooting several poses against an abandoned gate and with some flowering bushes, we moved to an open area in the field.
This was going to be tough. I only had about 50 feet of "ridge" to work with that gave the background a distant look. One angle produced a green on green look due to the angle of the sun. Another angle, I got a more amber grass and nice rim lighting on the model and a green tree line. Somewhere in between was a huge monstrosity of humanity, the large power main, the kind with the huge "Transformer" Robot looking towers with multiple overhead power lines.
Only having two angles, I decided to shoot both. I just had Even walk naturally from one place to another and then back. She of course was watching for snake holes, fire ants (and thats a story in itself!), and gopher holes. She was clearly a bit uncomfortable in this setting, but being a professional she managed to still provide great looks.
From the dozen or so frames shot in the two walks, I pulled two that I liked. One seen here:
was the angle where I was green on green. This seemed like a very natural opportunity to go Black and White. I generally have a philosophy that if color doesn't add meaning to the photo, then it should be B&W. (Editors Note: Then why I don't I do more B&W?).
A touch of sepia later and I have a photograph that I'm happy with. Still not quite what I had hoped for, but it would work for certain fashion conscious upscale clothing chains, like American Eagle or Abercrombie and Fitch. (Not that I will be marketing these any time soon).
But still, it wasn't quite what I wanted. So I turned to another photo -- terribly over exposed. I was on spot meter and Aperture Exposure at F4/ ISO 100. The meter was on the model's black outfit. Spot meter on black, you get an over exposed photo, spot on white, get an under exposed photo. You would think 25+ years I'd get it.
I preach it. I know it like the back of my hand. All I could do was curse at myself for blowing it with the camera settings. I was too caught up with the shoot to pay attention to the shoot.
But thankfully I was shooting RAW. In the photo in question (the one above), it was about 1 stop over exposed. Adobe Photoshop's raw converter has a "Recovery" slider to help recover blown highlights. A slight exposure adjustment and a big increase in contrast and I now had a photo that looked pretty good.
Satisfied with what I had done, the web friendly size got emailed to the model, makeup artist and hair stylist, who happened to be out to dinner together.
SIDEBAR: They get to go out and eat and drink while I have to slave over a computer? What an injustice!
The next morning, I get two vibrates and a tweedelbeep later, the makeup artist, Lollycat text messages me "Hey can you make that one dreamy?"
Sure, pop open Photoshop, my tool of choice and I start hacking away. In doing so, I could have just thrown a quick filter to blur things a bit and been done. But that wouldn't suffice. I wanted to match my dreams. If I'm going to us Photoshop, a master once told me, "Use it".
The steps involved are documented on the top photo if you click through and read the caption on Flickr. But I went from a horribly executed (but decently composed with a great look fro the model) in camera experience to a decent post production piece.
I have to put out my photojournalist's disclaimer. I would not publish in a news paper or news magazine this image as real. Its a photo illustration. Its art!. End of disclaimer!
What do you think?