Challenge: Free Study 2011-01 (Advanced Editing VII)
Camera: Nikon D90
Lens: Nikon AF Nikkor -S DX 18-105 f3.5-5.6
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: Jan 8, 2011
Galleries: Portraiture, Studio
Date Uploaded: Jan 11, 2011
|Model: Tracy Braime
When I first met Tracy, I knew I would use her in my homage to John Sargent Singer's masterpiece, Madame X.
This was my first ever solo studio lighting session, and I have to say, I was feeling a little nervous the night before.
I have always loved that painting, and wanted to create an image that captured her haughtiness, her ethereal beauty, her regal posture, her dismissive yet alluring attitude. Just slightly updated. To that end, her stance is more suggestive, she is holding one of her shoes instead of a fan, and both her feet (one of them naked) are visible. In the original scandal-provoking painting, the right shoulder strap was off the shoulder, as in my photograph. Sargent painted it back up on the shoulder after the public outcry and at the socialite's insistence. Too provocative for the times, it seems. Of course, today it is barely noticeable in our hypersexualized society, but it is my nod to his original vision. I didn't have a suitable table, but oddly enough, I did have the lion, which turned out to be more aggressive and somehow, more modern.
For the dress, I tapped my costumer friend who works at Warner Bros. (thank you Dana!!!!). She brought me two gorgeous dresses, which in the end I did not use. Instead, I ended up constructing the ensemble using a Valentino gown I've owned forever for the top, and over it, a skirt I'd picked up the day before at Goodwill. I occasionally go in there scavenging for wardrobe for my shoots, and the first thing I put my hand on was this skirt. I almost yelped for joy as it was EXACTLY what I'd envisioned. (It is the same skirt I used for my OOB entry, which I shot the following day). As I lifted it off the rack, the loudspeaker broadcast a half-price sale on all skirts. I took it home for $10. For the straps I used a rhinestone belt which I pinned into the dress, and clip-on earrings for the broaches. I concealed the waist area with a beaded belt I have.
Tracy is English, and her skin is naturally very pale. Still, and I used a powder finish to give her a bit of a glow. The lighting did the rest. My in-camera white balance gave her the desired and surreal violet tone. I only took about 15 images. It turned out exactly as I envisioned.
convert from RAW
cloned out wrinkles on the curtain, a seam at the top, and a couple of small skin blemishes.
adjusted huge, saturation, levels, contrast, and a couple of rounds of curves
dodged and burned all over
Topaz simplify on her skin
save for web
I hope you like it.
Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. I was hoping she'd place better, but I'm very pleased anyway. Regarding the darkness at the bottom, it was an intentional choice. I could have separated it more (there were other shots where her entire image was perfectly visible), but it somehow lost the mystery and the grandeur.