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smoke and mirrors
smoke and mirrors

Photograph Information Photographer's Comments
Challenge: Human Portrait, Head & Shoulders (Advanced Editing VII)
Collection: 2015
Camera: Nikon D700
Lens: Nikon AF-S Zoom-Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED
Date: May 12, 2015
Date Uploaded: May 12, 2015

Yes, this is rotated 90 degrees...

I had this idea for a couple of days but didn't get around to it until the last minute. And you know what happens when you wait until the last minute...

I had originally planned for a natural light shot, being too lazy to set up my lights. And the backdrop was all tucked away, because I was too lazy to roll it out. So I set up my 750 with the remote and lay on my side and did some test shots to see if my concept was even doable. Basically it was, the lighting was a bit weak, but adequate.

Then I get into this wig (it's 80 degrees in L.A., and I don't have the a/c on because I want the smoke as still as possible), and have to put on this wig because my hair isn't long enough for this effect. It's like putting a polar bear on my head. I'm sweating already, and I put on a cool shirt because I like the texture. But it's really a very warm shirt...

Now I just needed to light the cigarette.

If you know me, you know there are few things in the world I despise more than cigarettes... But the shot won't work without the cigarette, so I sacrifice... I have these leftover cigs from a shoot from forever ago, and a box of matches. And the matches don't work. Seriously. How do matches not work. It's friction for goodness sake!! So I go rummaging around for another box of matches, in my polar bear headpiece, and I'm sweating but finally find another box. Having never lit a cigarette, I figure it should be easy, and.... yes, it was.

Finally, I lie down and start shooting. I have to keep puffing to keep the thread of smoke going. GGGAAACKKKK!! Truly, the most disgusting thing ever... I get up to peek at the LCD to see if everything is in frame, and on the LCD it looks like it is, but I cannot tell if I'm getting smoke. So I take the card out, trudge down the hall to my office with my polar bear still on my head, go to my computer, load up the images, and nope. Not a single bit of smoke to be seen. The light is neither strong enough nor in the right place. And the floor is showing in the shot and there's no way to crop to get the effect I want. And the shirt I chose looked like crap.

Everything is crap. I have to shoot more. And set up my lights. And roll out the backdrop. And light and "smoke" another cigarette....

So, using the lights and backdrop means I have to move everything out of the way. And if you've ever seen my studio, there's no place to move anything to....

Mind you, I'm still wearing the polar bear as I'm moving everything, so I'm a sweaty mess.

I roll out the backdrop. I set up the light, I change my shirt... but wait! I cannot both trigger the camera and the lights at the same time with my 750. The old trigger used to plug into a thing that this camera no longer has, and the new trigger goes in the shoe where the PW goes. I can trigger the lights with PW and the camera with the remote, but there's no way in heck I can do it synchronously... I'm sure there's a way, but I haven't figured it out.

So I get back up, go get my 700, switch out the lens, pop on the PW, plug in the remote, set it up on the camera, etc., etc. And I light another cigarette.

After a couple of test shots, I get up to look at the camera and the lighting is perfect. And I can clearly see the smoke. I shoot off a few more shots just to get the right smoke shape, and I'm done.

Pp'g was just rotating, cropping, SEP2, glamour glow, ta da!

Gosh, I'm beginning to sound like Wendy...


Thank you for putting this silliness on the front page. I was pressed for time and it wasn't until after the fact that I saw how grainy and imperfect this is. I've fixed it and posted elsewhere, and although I sometimes like grain, this was a bit much :)

Place: 5 out of 55
Avg (all users): 6.5765
Avg (commenters): 8.0000
Avg (participants): 6.6000
Avg (non-participants): 6.5636
Views since voting: 1569
Views during voting: 208
Votes: 85
Comments: 31
Favorites: 3 (view)

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04/24/2020 11:24:36 AM
Originally posted by Bear_Music:

No, you're sounding like a LYDIA :-)

Ha! I'm just seeing this.

I do go on, right? LOL
  Photographer found comment helpful.
04/24/2020 11:23:38 AM
I can't believe I didn't comment on this after voting. I must have been gone somewhere.

I totally LOVE it. Can't believe it didn't get the BLUE.

It's brilliant, Johanna.

Thanks for the story, too.

  Photographer found comment helpful.
10/13/2015 03:49:26 AM
Ach, your normal run-off-the-mill brilliance.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/24/2015 01:41:25 AM
Had I voted in this one it would have been a 10. Great creative shot that makes you pump the next image brakes and look closer.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/23/2015 08:31:01 PM
Congrats on the HM, Johanna. Great dedication and creativity and a wow result. Thanks for the notes. I love reading notes like this! I hope you got rid of the taste. Next time maybe get yourself a model who smokes? (Says me, who can rarely get a model at all.)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/21/2015 12:24:52 PM
Beautiful and intriguing photo. Great tones! One to print, with a simple frame. :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 05:09:17 PM
Glad you saw it through, it was worth it! Great photo, my fave of the challenge.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 03:53:38 PM
Johanna you get cleverer and cleverer.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 01:10:37 PM
No, you're sounding like a LYDIA :-)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 10:55:42 AM
Isn't it crazy what we are willing to go through for some of these challenges? Isn't it wonderful when it gives you enough of a creative push to produce something you end up happy with and that connects with people. Thanks for the lesson in both creativity and persistence, and congrats on the nice finish.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 10:50:22 AM
Great stuff. My winner.

I love cigarettes.

Even after many years of not partaking.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 10:43:23 AM
Nice take on this.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 02:33:27 AM
You are a nut ;)

I hate cigarettes also.

Your dedication to the art has paid off!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 02:07:19 AM
Wow that is serious dedication. I am glad it paid off with this superb photo and great result. Well done.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 01:16:36 AM
I am ever so impressed by your dedication!

One thing that would have helped you hugely is an eye-fi card.
You could set it to automatically upload to your laptop/iPad/phone, and place it where you can easily see it. Then you just have to wait for a few seconds for the photo to show up instead of trudging down the hall.

  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 12:59:05 AM
good goddess! ain't that the shot, ain't that the saga!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 12:53:27 AM
I LOVE the narrative! Many thanks for including it!!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 12:50:33 AM
Fantastic story, great result!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 12:26:39 AM
Goodness, do more like these, wigs or not - this is fabulous!
Hmmm, just read the whole story to get some knowledge of how you did it and My mind cannot take more than the basics: wig, heat, smoke, again, crap, good, voila....

Message edited by author 2015-05-20 00:43:21.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/20/2015 12:06:30 AM
  Photographer found comment helpful.
 Comments Made During the Challenge
05/19/2015 04:01:55 PM
Nicely disorienting.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/19/2015 03:20:49 PM
Credit for novel thinking and composition.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/19/2015 03:06:24 PM
Now this is something different and I love it. Really love the contrast in the direction of the hair and the smoke. Well done on a great job.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/18/2015 04:39:09 PM
Nicely done!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/17/2015 04:53:51 PM
FABULOUS!!! HOW did you do this?
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/15/2015 07:59:43 AM
fantastic. love the mystery, treatment and oddness. If anything, a bit over-sharp but not enough to hurt too much. 8
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/13/2015 01:07:20 PM
Very well executed. Logically, it only makes sense that she's laying on her side, but it makes you think at first. For those not used to dissecting how images are created, they might think you're magic!
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/13/2015 12:34:53 PM
Cool image, not sure how it will score considering you don't see her face. Is she laying on the floor holing herself up with one shoulder? If so, then I hope for the model's sake that you did not have to do many shots. Holding your body up like that is hard :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/13/2015 12:22:53 PM
My fav so far.
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/13/2015 02:27:40 AM
my third favorite for the challenge :)
  Photographer found comment helpful.
05/13/2015 12:18:57 AM
WONDERFUL!! Winner! 10
  Photographer found comment helpful.

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