A week ago I turned 30, a big number. It seems I’ve been aging faster lately and I think I’ve found the reason; it’s small, at times highly annoying, funny, crazy, lovable and ridiculously cute. I’m also fairly certain it’s some kind of anomaly in the field of physics in terms of mass/energy ratio – either that or there’s an army of clones that work in shifts to produce a continuous energy output. Recently I set out to document the phenomenon.
The shot above is without a doubt the most heavily post produced photo I’ve done, which admittedly isn’t saying all that much. I knew from the start what I wanted to do and I had a clear plan to get there, so while the Mrs. was out and the muppet was sleeping, I set things up.
I don’t have a proper tripod for the camera so I used one of my light stands (I do the same thing for my self portraits), since it was imperative that the camera stayed in the same place. To start with I needed some fill light so I set up a YN560 with umbrella to camera right, as close to the camera as I could get it. Since I was shooting with a wide angle lens I felt some more fill was needed so I also put a LP160 on camera and bounced it on the wall behind the camera. The first shot below shows this base exposure. It’s not straight from camera, I’ve applied some basic editing to clean it up a bit.
That first shot was used as a base when I later put everything together. In total five shots were used, you can see them all above. For the shot of myself I used a snooted LP160 to get some harder light and for the little one I used the LP160 in a softbox instead (you can see me holding it in the shots). The little one was actually surprisingly compliant on this occasion, happily jumping on the sofa when I asked her to and posing nicely where I directed her. She always demands to see the shots afterwards though, guess she has to make sure she looks good.
I took more shots than the ones I used and I had planned to have a couple more clones in the final shot but I just couldn’t get it to look good when it came time to put everything together. I used Onone’s Perfect Layers to put the different shots together and it wasn’t all that difficult to do. The thing that made it a bit tricky was the way I lit each shot in a different way. I had to find a way to blend the different light intensities on the background together in a way that didn’t look too off. That’s why I wasn’t able to add more shots, it just look out of place with the light. Shooting everything with just the fill light would have made it easy but things would have looked flat and boring.
After getting the layers to look decent I took the shot back into Lightroom and played around until I finally ended up with the edit at the top. It wasn’t planned to edit it in this way but I think I found a pretty nice style for it – I may use it again for similar types of shots but not for my regular portraits. As always, let me know if anyone is interested in the Lightroom settings and I’ll send you a preset for it to play around with.
So, who wants a muppet? I’ve got a couple of spares…