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The Secret Self/Secret Self Portrait challenge
The Secret Self/Secret Self Portrait challenge

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Deja Vu IV (Advanced Editing VII)
Collection: 2012 Challenges
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
Location: Chateau Snaffles
Date: Nov 8, 2012
Aperture: f.8
ISO: 160
Shutter: 1 second
Date Uploaded: Nov 8, 2012

Did I ever choose a doozy of a pic to copy, this recent blue from ' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' Samantha_T. I knew that pic would ribbon and when it did, thought 'Aw damn why didn't I come up that?!' But, I need to spend more time in the studio, and it LOOKS pretty simple...*rueful grin*

First thing I did was download Samantha's image onto my laptop, and studied her settings to give me some idea as to how she shot, so I could had a starting point for the reverse-engineering.

The model: I used a doll for the model - hope Samantha doesn't mind that I used a Barbie with bendy arms to replace her! :-) Considered using a woody, but there is a visible profile and woodys have blank faces. The skull is one of Dem Boners', probably Alfonso. Sadly, the skull isn't to scale, but I checked with SC and realized that I'd be dicing with death (or at least a DQ) if I PS'd the skull to enlarge it to scale. Ah well.

The set: Barbie is sitting on a wooden chest, with some twine further securing her to it. Used a box draped with black velour for the dark feature positioned behind her. Fishing line kept the skull's neck vertebrae stuck to her hand. Behind everything is another length of light-eating black velour.

The fabric: In the photo, the white fabric is carefully draped and placed to create nice flowing lines. On such a small scale,it was very difficult to get the folds of most fabrics to go as needed. Finally I thought of facial tissue but straight from the box, it is relatively stiff to manipulate and fairly opaque. Even crumpling it up and then unfolding it didn't soften it up very much. Pulling it apart helped a bit as most tissue is 2-ply, but it was still quite stiff.

Misting it carefully with something would make it more malleable, but water would just destroy it. Then I thought of hairspray, which is mostly alcohol and dries quickly. Enter a spray bottle of Silkience. And it holds shapes beautifully and helps in sticking to things. Yay!

But hairspray-drenched, single-ply facial tissue is very, very, VERY fragile. I probably spent more time getting the fabric right than anything else. Fortunately this combo also makes fantastic papier-mache, which came in handy for some areas.

The lighting: There are two light sources, a backlight and a secondary light illuminating the back of the skull, Barbie's front and underside of her arm. A homemade flood with a blue lightbulb in it gave me the backlight and a nice eerie glow.

It was the secondary light that was tough to get. First I tried a reflector, but not enough light; then I tried my flashes, snooded, but getting the timing just right was tricky. At least Ryan was around at that time so he manned the shutter and gave lighting direction, which resulted in many close-but-not-quite shots. At least I now had an idea as to where to shine the light, and for how long.

Finally, I went with a headlamp whos settings include two small, very bright LEDs which I snooded with my fingers. As I used a fairly long exposure, I swept the light quickly across the areas where it was needed. Eh wala. The PS will be a breeze. Now I can get some sleep! :-)

pp: shot RAW, crop, brightness/contrast, minor cloning, vibrance/saturation, underwater filter, resize, sharpen, save for web


Post challenge: Ok, now I'm throwing down the gauntlet.

Those people who think I simply should have done some ironing can now go and attempt to replicate THIS shot, using a doll and single-ply facial tissue soaked with hairspray.

Oh yes. As with all my images, except those that are clearly PhotoChopped, this is a single capture.

So go nuts! Good luck!

Place: 29 out of 48
Avg (all users): 5.8737
Avg (commenters): 6.2500
Avg (participants): 5.6400
Avg (non-participants): 5.9571
Views since voting: 445
Views during voting: 284
Votes: 95
Comments: 11
Favorites: 0

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11/19/2012 05:03:42 AM

Those people who think I simply should have done some ironing can now go and attempt to replicate THIS shot, using a doll and single-ply facial tissue soaked with hairspray.
are you talking about me ...lol!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/16/2012 04:05:55 AM
should have placed higher this! great effort and great result!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/16/2012 12:34:07 AM
Loved this one. Place much higher in my rankings.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
11/15/2012 04:31:16 PM
An excellently creepy take on the original.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/14/2012 08:47:23 AM
i have never been a huge fan of dolls/toys as the subject in shots, i do however the lighting works well in line with the original and the subject is nice and sharp.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/14/2012 07:58:21 AM
I love these takes on past entries. Great sense of humor and creativity to present in a different way. 8
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/13/2012 03:56:52 PM
LOL, nice try. %
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/09/2012 12:35:18 PM
Taking one of the recent winners, very daring.
Is it just me, or is the "person" in the sheet creepily looking at the camera?
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/09/2012 07:30:03 AM
Hilarious. Well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/09/2012 05:56:39 AM
Well done in terms of lighting and composition, not so much in terms of model and props. Using Samantha or a Barbie doll as a model makes a huge difference :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
11/09/2012 05:13:50 AM
aghh you should of ironed the fabric before the shoot. Samantha's shot is fully ironed, so it seems, still pretty good job, better than what I could of done, but then again I would not of done anything like this, oh maybe I should just stop talking :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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