18. august 2011

Trying to revive a cult classic trough old school shutter-bug thinking

One of the models I've shot before, came to me with an idea, she wanted to try and recreate the photos taken of Bettie Page some time during the 50's (52-57).
She was thinking about series presented like these: Black section, Bettie Page

I had to research quite a bit, and found that the particular photos in the "black series", was taken by Irving Klaw, who worked with her during most of the fifties, before she became a playboy model.

Analysis:
- Straight on light, small light source, probably on-board flash or a bracket mounted flash.
- Very contrasty, blocked shadows, some blown highlights, not much noise (pointing towards medium or large format film camera of some sort).
- Film type, unknown, because Irving burned his negatives in fear of getting charged for creating smut, there are none left, only prints ^^
- Bad photographic angle (some times standing to close with a short lens, some times standing at an angle to the wall, creating perspective)
- Crooked photos =)
- Crap that doesn't belong to the scene is visible in the photo anyway. =D

In other words, photos taken more by a "guy with camera" than a photographer per se.
Guy with camera explanation: Model mayhem =)

General tackiness here we go! =)

Audrey, as Bettie, did her job looking amazing, so the goal was, as back then, about content, rather than photographic value.
- Also, trying to recreate the cult feel and vintage look to the photos themselves was a major point.


Here are some results from the shoot:






All photos were shot with my Canon 1ds mk II and a studio-flash with a 7" reflector

The process in vintage'fying the photos, was pretty advanced, because I had to crunch the tonality spectrum, while still retaining a sensible photo, ending up with 12-15 adjustment layers of various kinds.

Basically the steps were:
Reduce detail, but increase local contrast. Which means, reducing fine detail, replacing that with grain (as with film) and then increase slightly larger areas of detail...slightly contradictory.

Smoothing out skin tones.

Then heighten the highs, then reduce tonality even more.

After that, I used a b&w conversion action that I made two years ago (and use regularly), which gives me good control over the b&w conversion process.

As a final step I used a plugin from efex pro to create natural grain and a slightly more "filmy look"....tweak to taste.

The tonality variation on these photos stem from the plugin, as it was hard to control its behaviour properly, but I kept the toning in, I kind of like it.

I used parts of this tutorial as a base for my post-work, a really nice tutorial if you ask me, especially on vintage stuff from modern equipment.

You can visit Audreys facebook page here:
Audrey Wilde
or check out her Model Mayhem profile here:
Audrey on MM

Really fun project, we did a few fashion and modern photos as well, join my
Facbook page to see those and photos from other shoots. =)

Regards

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