Movie Poster Photography: "Self/Less"

I just finished this new photography and Photoshop project of mine: a movie poster remake of the movie, “Self/Less” with Ryan Reynolds and Ben Kingsley. When I tell folks what type of professional photography that I enjoy most, I often mention that it’s the type of commercial photography that you would see on a movie poster, or a book cover. So, again, here is yet another movie poster recreation of mine.

This year, I want to crank out at least one creative photo project a month. I want to both try things that I’ve seen online—like this movie poster—and come up with new concepts on my own. I saw the movie poster for “Self/Less”, and thought it looked like a fun creative challenge.

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (with text).

My Approach

First I had to find something to remake the ‘head’ wrapped in plastic. I quickly realized that doing that as a self-portrait was not easy, and not the best idea. So, I bought a mannequin head, and used that (much easier). I then wanted the right trench coat, so I found a cheap one online that fit the look I was going for, but it took a bit of time to get it delivered. Then, I just sat up a mirror in front of the camera, and set it to take multiple shots. After about 50 or so shots, I finally got one that I liked.

Then, that ‘dispersion’ affect was one I’ve seen for a long time, and wanted to try sometime, and this was the perfect project for it. I cut up small pieces of black cinefoil, took pictures of them w/ my iPhone, and created eight different Photoshop brushes to use in the image. It worked out rather well—a fun technique.

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (without text).

“Self/Less” movie poster remake (without text).

More Photography Projects Like This

I really enjoy doing this creative photo composites, and photo manipulations. They really push me to problem solve to figure out how to best shoot it, and how best to approach the Photoshop work so that it looks as realistic as possible. I definitely plan on doing more photo projects like this for myself, and really hope to be able to work with more clients on projects like this.

Movie Poster Photography: "Cold Souls" Parody

I really hope you enjoy this new photography and Photoshop project of mine: a movie poster parody. When I explain to people what type of professional photography that I enjoy most, I often mention that it’s the type of commercial photography that you would see on a movie poster, or a book cover. So, I just had to recreate a movie poster.

I’ve been so busy with my day job, that I haven’t been putting much time in, or pushing myself creatively. So, this year, I really want to try and crank out at least one creative photo project a month. I want to both try things that I’ve seen online—like this movie poster—and come up with new concepts on my own. I saw the movie poster for “Cold Souls” with Paul Giamatti, and thought it looked like a fun creative challenge, so I took my own spin on it. Yes, I know that I spelled it “Cold Soles”, I just didn’t want to copy it exactly, out respect.

Movie poster photography. A “Cold Souls” movie poster parody.

My Approach

Can you say tripod and remote trigger? It’s so much easier to be just behind the camera, than to be both behind and in front of the camera. Focus is harder, lighting is harder, and it just takes a lot longer. Nonetheless I pulled it off: grabbing images of myself, and a few images of a bowl that I used in my composite as the inside of the heads to give it a more realistic look.

I shot the portraits with a blue-green background, but wound up doing full cut-outs of the headshots, so I’m not sure if it helped me that much to color light my backdrop, but I don’t think it hurt. And, it probably helped me blend it in better to my final background.

Movie poster photography. A “Cold Souls” movie poster parody (without text).

More Photography Projects Like This

I really enjoy doing this creative photo composites, and photo manipulations. They really push me to problem solve to figure out how to best shoot it, and how best to approach the Photoshop work so that it looks as realistic as possible. I definitely plan on doing more photo projects like this for myself, and really hope to be able to work with more clients on projects like this.

Product Photography: Sig Sauer P238

Have you ever seen something in the store or online and think, "That would be a lot of fun to make a photograph of?"  Okay, maybe you don't, but sometimes I do.  When I got this Sig Sauer P238, that's exactly what I did.  I wanted to create an image that would be worthy of a web site home page.  

Sig Sauer P238 with ammo, hearing protection, and extra clip

The set:  I wanted to have a grey/black background, and something with texture, so I found some shelf lining and grey slate tile from the local home improvement store.  I also added in some rebar as a foreground element.  

Sig Sauer P238 with ammo, and extra clip

Special effects:  A picture of a firearm is just simply not complete with out a little gun smoke, so with the help of some incense and some Photoshop work, the gun came to life.  

Retouching:  I wouldn't have thought this image would need much retouching, but even thought I cleaned it thoroughly, there were numerous little dust specks on the gun, and little imperfections in the tile that demanded attention.  In short, I try to remove the distractions--that's the key.  

The final product:  I'm pretty pleased with the final images.  I think they'd make great banner images for any The only bad thing is, now I want to do some more special effects images, with a bullet flying out the barrel, and shell casings being ejected.  This could get addictive.  

Sig Sauer P238 smoking gun with ammo

Professional Portrait Retouching: Frequency Separation

I admit it!  It's been way too long since I've done a blog post.  I could rattle off excuses, but what's the point?  Let's get on with the blog post:  Recently I put together a photo project with a local company, Pro Kneads, who was looking to create some images for their web site.  I'm surely going to post some of them to my portfolio, soon.  However, I wanted to make a quick blog post of some of the retouching work that I did.  Retouching faces can be quite challenging.  As a photographer, I want to preserve detail while eliminating blemishes, color patches, and any blotchiness.  So many photographers do it the easy way and remove all the skin texture, giving almost a smooth, plastic look.  In all honesty, that approach is fine for the right client, for certain budgets.  I prefer more realistic retouching techniques.  I'll often use a technique called frequency separation.  Name aside, it's a technique that allows me to retouch the color separately from the texture, which allows me to retain a natural looking appearance, and who doesn't want that?

Below is the before image, alongside the retouched, after image.  I think you'll agree that the transformation is not only amazing, but also very beautiful and flattering.  

Portrait, before retouching

Portrait, after retouching

   Furthermore, I do want to add that the client was looking for a dramatic, contrasty image that had blues in the shadows and blacks.  That's the reason for the color tone and treatment here.  Here's the final image as delivered to my client:  

Final portrait for client's web site

Final portrait for client's web site

Lastly, the client was looking for an image that conveyed the fact that their services were mobile--that they come to their client's home.  That's why we captured this image outdoors using studio lights to get that great light for the client.  

Mountain Bike Stuntman, Jeff Lenosky

Last weekend I had a chance to work with Jeff Lenosky, an American world class professional Freeride and Trials Mountain Bicycle Rider.

Jeff Lenosky jumping his mountain bike over some brave little fans.

I connected with Jeff on Facebook, in hopes of catching up with him for his show here in Indianapolis at Bicycle Garage Indy, and making some great images of him doing his amazing stunts.  It was an absolute blast getting to know Jeff, and working with him.  I shot five of his six shows, and by the fifth one I was starting to dial it in, and get myself positioned in better and better spots to get some good shots.  I even wiggled my Jeep into a spot behind his stunt obstacles and trailers to get an elevated shooting perspective.  I wanted to be able to get Jeff some great photos that he can use with his sponsors (e.g., Giant Bicycles, Vittoria, and Ergon Bike).  All in all, it was a really good shoot.  Next time I want to focus a little more on some of his key sponsors and get some detail shots of their products.      

Photo Composite & Manipulation - Boy on Rhino

I just created a new photo composite.  I spent some time over the Christmas & New Year holidays practicing and working on my Photoshop compositing and photo manipulation techniques.  I grabbed multiple images that I had taken, and slowly started putting them together.  For the background I used an image of Multnomah Falls, in Oregon, that I captured when I was there.  I used an image of my nephew to add a human element--plus, he's just plain cute.  I composited in images of a rhinoceros, an elephant, and a bird that I had taken at the Indianapolis Zoo.  The Parthenon was taken in Nashville Tennessee.  The bridge was from Meadow Park Lake in Crossville, TN.  The steps and doors were taken here in Indianapolis, but the alligator was not--it was from our trip to New Orleans.  There's a few other pieces from here and there, but all of them were captured by me.  

Photo manipulation & composite of a boy on rhinoceros near a waterfall

Photo manipulation & composite of a boy on rhinoceros near a waterfall