Thursday, December 28, 2006

Watch Out for Chia Pet Syndrome!

If you're like me, when your eye is pressed to the viewfinder the vast majority of your attention is focused, intently, on the model. For the most part, that's a good thing.

But sometimes, this level of attention causes us to be less focused on what's going on behind and around the model. It's tough to blame ourselves for doing so, especially when there's a beautiful lady posing in front of us... sometimes naked! But if we're not careful, we might end up snapping an otherwise killer image of the beautiful babe with, what looks like, something growing out of her head or from somewhere else, almost like a Chia Pet.

I can't tell you how many times I've snapped images only to discover I was paying too little attention to that tree or bush or the shrubbery behind the model and, wouldn't ya know it, the image, being two-dimensional and all, gave the appearance that a limb or a branch was growing out of the model's head. This isn't only a problem when shooting outside with flora in the picture. Windows often have horizontal and vertical components that can make your model look like My Favorite Martian with antennae growing from her lovely melon. (I think I just seriously dated myself.) In fact, there's all kinds of things waiting in the background and elsewhere to mess up our shots.

When I think to do so, I go through a quick, silent, checklist--in my head--while I'm shooting.

"She's in the light? Check."

"No amputated arm syndrome? Check."

"Nothing looking like it's growing out of her head? Check."

Of course, there should be a whole bunch more bouncing around our brains while we're shooting. To make matters more complicated, we should be verbally communicating with the model all the while. (Wouldn't it be great if we could Vulcan Mind Meld with models when we're shooting them?) All of this requires some mental gymnastics at times. Since what I'm writing about today falls under the heading of "practical advise," I suppose what I'm advising is that you train your eye and your brain and your mouth to become gymnasts or acrobats: Working together like one of those incredible Chinese acrobatic teams that are all on top of each other, balancing precariously off of chairs held by the lower guys' noses while plates are spinning on the fingers of the people on top.

I'm writing about this today because, as I was going through some sets of Selena, who I'm featuring in today's post, I came across a few too many images where the vertical and horizontal parts of those windows seemed to be growing, unattractively, from her head. Mostly, I think, it's the verticals that caused the problems.

As noted, the model is Selena. MUA was Lilian. I captured these with a Canon 5D w/85mm f/1.8 prime, ISO 100, f/6.3 @ 125th. I used a 5' Photoflex Octodome as a mainlight. Ambient provided everything else. Monchrome conversion using the Channel Mixer method.


Anonymous said...

My Karmann Ghia has a Chia Pet.

jimmyd said...

My Karmann Ghia has a Chia Pet.

heheheh... thanks.