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Challenge: The Smile (Advanced Editing VII)
Collection: 2012
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: Aug 11, 2012
Date Uploaded: Aug 11, 2012

Model: Sherrie Guerrero

I met Sherrie on my recent trip to Yucatan; I told her then I though she looked like the Mona Lisa. When this challenge was announced, I knew immediately I wanted to try to reproduce the most famous smile in the world, even if it is also the most subtle smile in the world. It is likely to score low for that reason, but I was committed to this idea.

For the background, I tapped my friend, Phillip Cohen, someone from my early days in LA, who very recently found me on Facebook, seemingly just in time for this challenge. He does amazing faux paintings (he did a sky ceiling in my first house in LA), and his profile picture shows him sitting in front of the image I used for this portrait - which he created for the one of the Pasadena Showcase houses. It is painted in the same style as the bg in the Mona Lisa, even though it is of someplace in Spain instead of Italy. Oddly fitting as Sherrie is also of Spanish decent.

The biggest challenge of all was the wardrobe, and creating it took about 3 days. It's a combination of dresses, shirts, and pieces of material, and I'm not 100% happy with it. But it's close enough for a no-budget shoot. Observant viewers, however, will note that she is missing the veil, which is barely visible in the painting, but definitely there. I did not forget it, but could not find material sheer and light enough to work. I labored on it for about 45 minutes and got fed up. I'm painting it in for the non-DPC version.

The other problem I had was the armrest. This is just a piece of 2x4 she is holding with her left hand, which is why it doesn't look as relaxed as in the original. I just could not find an armchair in time for the shoot.

Most of the editing involved trying to recreate the patina of centuries, and shifting the original, bright colors of the capture to the aged tones of the painting as we know it. It is quite likely that the colors in the original painting more closely resembled those in my original image.

convert from raw
crop
straighten
CEP darken/lighten center
minor cloning of stray hairs, lighten eyebrows
hue/saturation
color balance
overlay layer for d&b
hue/saturation
gradient layer
art filter layer (for crackle) at 22% opacity
color balance
brightness contrast
save for web

Although I really hoped to be surprised by a great score, this did almost exactly as I anticipated. Based on the comments, I imagine it was because the smile wasn't SMILEY enough, rather than the execution of the image. I'm delighted some viewers felt the need to look up the original to compare it. The comment on the hand size and the body proportion is dead on; Sherrie is more voluptuous and short-waisted, did not have the benefit of an armrest to prop herself up on, and couldn't move too much because her costume was held together in places by pins... I'll post the final version when I'm done with it.

And Christophe, thank you so very much for the vote of confidence and the fave!

Statistics
Place: 39 out of 71
Avg (all users): 5.8868
Avg (commenters): 7.4167
Avg (participants): 6.1714
Avg (non-participants): 5.7465
Views since voting: 1179
Views during voting: 310
Votes: 106
Comments: 39
Favorites: 16 (view)


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AuthorThread
08/23/2012 02:23:05 PM
I gave up trying to find the reason 'why' and just enjoy the image these days. Of cause, this is exceptional work. Been a very long while since i 'faved' an image.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/23/2012 11:26:09 AM
uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh why is this down here
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/23/2012 04:24:41 AM
I have been looking at this for a while trying to figure out how on earth it placed at 40th....All I can figure is that people thought it was a picture of a painting as you have done this so convincingly. Great work.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/22/2012 03:06:23 PM
What an enormous undertaking. Well done! I look forward to seeing your finished 'non-DPC' version.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 08:45:05 PM
amazing is the word. Where on Earth have you found the second Mona Lisa?! And shot her so convincingly?! The face is just perfect. The hands, indeed, you could try to make them look smaller by a different choice of lens or POV. Anyway, it does not have to be an exact replica.... overall, fantastic job!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 05:50:29 PM
Amazing, Johanna!!! : )
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 08:50:08 AM
Yes, this really is stunning Johanna. Masterful work. I never got a chance to comment during voting but you got an 8 from me.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 07:38:20 AM
Wow...this is amazing Johanna!! I didn't even look at this challenge, and now I wish I did.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 07:08:29 AM
Congrats again Johanna on a job well done - this is just super!! Love it!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/21/2012 02:09:46 AM
Would have given you a 10 for the face alone. I mean if I had voted. I cannot believe what all you did! But it is the face and the distribution of light, and colour tones, as in the original, that gives this The Presence.

Message edited by author 2012-08-21 02:12:15.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 09:42:42 PM
lol I can't believe that people are surprised that this finished way too low in the scoring. This IS dpc after all. Art we know not thy name :)

This is so freakin fantabulous! I can't believe all the work you put into this. Outstanding.

Congratulations on creating a beautiful piece of work.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 09:31:11 PM
tangy this is awesome
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 07:01:13 PM
Out of this world. You've outdone yourself mightily.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 07:00:36 PM
wow, the score and placement of this photo is a real indictment of DPC voters. A surprising level of ignorance.

Incredible work.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 06:24:05 PM
Wonderful portrait Johanna. The glint in her eyes is smile enough. Superb craftsmanship despite all the woes/issues you mentioned. Raised the bar again. All I'd change is the speckled skin PP. Edit: Typo

Message edited by author 2012-08-20 18:24:51.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:57:05 PM
Awesome! You do magic. Even without the original, this would be special.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 11:49:12 AM
Congratulations on a wonderful image, Johanna. I will remember this one a very long time :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 10:43:30 AM
Excellent reproduction. Love the processing tones and lighting off the skin and fabric. The model does bear a strong resemblance to the original. Underrated by the general audience. I wonder how it would have scored if you would have had her give you a broad toothy smile. Superb work.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 10:30:10 AM
Again, a great shot. I can't believe the amount of work that went into it... and to result in a lowish score... pity. I scored it an 8 for the effort involved.

Getting critical, the thing that annoyed me most was the processing on the hands. They look hairy, but I think you were going for the aged paint look. They stand out too much from the rest of the image.

If you can liquify and shrink the head a bit too, it would help. If you're going that far on the final edit, see if you can extend the chin a bit more too. (Or maybe just bring the neck back a bit) She has a bit of a manly pose right now, and with an extended chin position relative to the neck, it might assist in feminizing the pose more.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 01:09:21 AM
I can't believe where this ended up, Johanna! As others have said, it had me comparing it side by side with the 'real' thing. My only 10 in this challenge.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:38:56 AM
see it ended up doing better than those early voters hey, great comments and 7 10's woot woot.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:37:49 AM
This should have done much better... Faved.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:12:08 AM
Nice work
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:08:24 AM
I feel terrible! Even though I gave this a 7 I had meant to come back and have a closer look to ensure that it wasn’t a photo of a painting (as I had originally thought but wanted to be sure) and boost my score accordingly. This would have been (and should have been) a 10 from me. Wonderfully done and it should have ribboned.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/20/2012 12:08:23 AM
I can't believe how low this finished :-( 8 from me.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
08/19/2012 10:49:46 PM
wow. what a great job.

I'm hanging this in my fantasy art gallery

artpost.jpg
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/19/2012 02:34:30 PM
Ha! Well done!


(commenting only)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/19/2012 01:14:40 PM
This is quite amazing. Excellent work... and a lot of it!!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/19/2012 12:27:25 PM
this is eery...looks real but surreal too...
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/18/2012 09:36:08 PM
She looks too serious but a lot of work went into setting this up so a 7 for staging skill well captured.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/17/2012 05:56:58 PM
Johanna, this is one of the most impressive photo I ever saw on DPC. The work you put in it is astounding, and it really shows. The processing is top notch and succeeds in rendering an oily aspect that immediately catches the eye. The backdrop is also very convincing (even if I can spot a few folds near the castle), and so is the outfit, especially the dress. I probably wouldn't have resisted to alter a little bit the left of her smile using 'liquify', just to mimic the original one, but proposing your own version of it is probably more interesting.

What can I add? A fantastic photo. And of course, this is the winner of the contest by a large margin in my opinion.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/17/2012 11:06:58 AM
Let me add another "WTF?" to your comments.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/16/2012 09:41:10 PM
First, let me say that your lighting, the model pose, costume and even the backdrop are very well done. It made me call up the picture of the Mona Lisa just to do a side by side comparison. I just love the play of light you captured for it is close to that of Leonardo's painting. I like how in your capture the clouds form a natural crown/halo around the subject. The smile though like the original is debatable. The left edge of the lips has that Sfumato 'effect' but the right does not have quite enough of the soft shadows that would balance it out as an elusive soft smile. There is something about the photo that has made me keep coming back to this photo to figure out what strikes me as odd. I think I finally may have figured it out and it rests in the proportions of the lady's body. The hands appear to be out of proportion to her upper body and head. I think that is an illusion caused by the play of the light AND that the hands are resting more forward away from the body such that they fool my eye into thinking they are a bit larger. That aside, this is a great homage to the original Mona Lisa.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/16/2012 02:09:17 AM
Oh, wonderful re-creation! Well done!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/14/2012 12:15:56 PM
This must have required some work. Eager to hear about the setup.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/13/2012 11:59:10 PM
Ha! A lot of work, but very fun!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/13/2012 10:32:49 AM
That is a very well done representation. I had to look up the original to spot the differences.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/13/2012 05:38:28 AM
Mysterious smile...brilliant set up 10.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
08/13/2012 03:01:27 AM
is this real....lol? OR a painting?
  Photographer found comment helpful.


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