Both shoots were actually taken on the same day, but we wanted to take some extra time for post processing. During that time I tried a variety of conversion styles to get from original RAW's to the JPG pictures, and we ended up liking two completely different sets of end results.
Both styles are present in the end result. The first series of photos use slightly desaturated color tones for the skin. The remainder of the photos were created by a selective black and white conversion, keeping a distinct tone of blue intact. By tweaking the white balance of the originals this resulted in a beautiful almost black-light effect on the bodypainted lines.
However, just putting them together would cause an abrupt change of style, and lack consistency. I decided on using the poem Annicke wrote for the set as a basis:
Movements tell about a single caress
Recognition of all that is in me
All that leaks out of my heart;
They leave burning marks on my skin
As I dance the dance of life "
For me this poem speaks of the dance of life as the path though life everyone takes, a never ending dance from birth to death, though that still might be a bit hard to visualize in one set of pictures. I therefore took the liberty of re-interpreting it as a more abrupt transformation: the dance depicts a shamanistic dance to guide the dancer from the human realm to a ghost/spirit realm. Using smoke effects we created a series of pictures in which the dance slowly evokes smoke, which then transforms the body from one realm to another. The smoke itself was added using multiple layers of available public domain smoke textures*, each recolored and transformed to the movements of the dance. The final result hopefully shows this transformation.
* I really appreciate that sites such as "Lost and Taken" exist. Amongst all pay-for-each-item commercial stock sites these can be really helpful when creating something without any budget.
As you might've noticed I've restructured my site(s) again. Gone is the way too long list of photoshoots, and in with the new "You only get the highlights" portfolio style! I'm still tweaking the latter, so expect a few more changes before everything is finished.
Why the change?
Short answer: it's about what do I want people to see? Ultimately, I would like to be able to get my hobby to pay for itself. For that I need to have an attractive portfolio, which just shows what I can do, what I like to do, and how I can help you with getting the pictures you seek.
However, after talks with many of you I found the old list of shoots to be a hindrance there. It made the site perfect for everyone who already knew the site, but horrible for people who don't know me (yet). That had to change. I did however not want to change this by removing the old shoots entirely. They're all cool and beautiful in their own right, but unfortunately I had already reached the limits of what the gallery system of zenfolio.com, my photo hosting provider, could do. I had to do something else. That's done now!
Ultimately, my portfolio needs to be even smaller and more consise.. But.. little steps.
So what's where?In short, two things:
- Photos.ork.be is my photo portfolio. It shows a summary of my work, and what I (can) do.
- Ork.be is my personal site. Primary function: to provide updates on what I do. It contains both my blog and the list of recent photoshoots. This last one is new, and contains a nicely clickable list of shoots and the people I've worked with. Oh and everything has RSS feeds as well of course :)
And now for some technical details:I don't like manual labor. I like automation. If it wasn't for automation I would not be able to do this at all, since it would take way to much time away from thesis-work, which still takes up most of my weeks.
Luckily, zenfolio.com provides a nice API to everything I put online on my portfolio. After some searching I found a nice Django plugin for Zenfolio, created by Scott Gorlin. This plugin allows, amongst other things, automated synchonization between a local Django database and the zenfolio database. This means that photoshoots I've put online at photos.ork.be automatically get synchronized to ork.be. There, a local script parses the description fields of any new shoots and matches these to a local database of models and shoots. This, in turn, is used to render ork.be/shoots and ork.be/models.
So, what's my publication work flow?I've got several in fact. First, the photoshoot workflow:
- I create a bunch of images
- I work through these and share a set of photos with the model(s), usually using a password protected link on photos.ork.be.
- I await their response(s), and determine a nice selection of cool photos to work on some more if needed (more Bibble, more Photoshop, etc.)
- The resulting images are then again sent through to the model(s), and if and only if we both agree on what should be put online, I put that series online.
Though the extra model review steps are strictly speaking not necessary, I like doing shoots this way. Showing results early to models is my way of saying "thanks" for helping with a shoot. Also, the extra time spent on listening to critiques is very helpful. This in turn helps with making the end result just a little bit better.
The publication workflow:Okay, bunch of photos ready for publication.
- First, I place a bunch of photos in a new gallery on photos.ork.be, and add titles and tags where needed.
- I flip the switch on that gallery from "Offline/private" to "Online".
- Then several things happen. My main site picks up on the newly created shoot using the zenfolio API, and creates a new index on in the shoot list. Any known models get tagged automatically, the rest I manually add later.
- Usually I then select a few images in zenfolio and mash the "Publish to flickr" button. This leads to nicely titled, tagged, resized and watermarked images on Flickr.
- I mash the "Publish to facebook" button and type some text. This creates a new facebook link to the shoot.
- I write a blog about what I did
- The published images on flickr are automatically uploaded to Hyves somewhere around 05:00 that night.
- The published blog (if any) is automatically added to Hyves too.
The weather. Most of us are currently either loving it (yay, warm!) or hating it (ugh! hot!). I unfortunately find myself in the second category, as I cannot stand anything above 25 degrees..
For outdoor photographers there is no such thing as important as the weather. It influences and ultimately decides how a shoot should go.. Catching the morning sunlight is difficult with clouds, and catching a thunderstorm is difficult when there's no cloud to be seen. But even when the weather itself is not the subject it still influences how subjects should be lit. The typical Dutch weather only gives us a dreary uniformly overly bright white lightsource. I find that a bit boring, so you'll often catch me grabbing extra flashes even during bright daylight. However, the weather can also provide some very interesting contrasts. For example, compare these two photos:
Originally, both of these shoots were planned as a single shoot with a "contrast" kind of theme: what kind of contrasts could we make? Facial expression? Mood? Clothing? Action? Location? We tried a variety of studio shots just to see what kind of clothing would work, and then decided on doing two separate outdoor shoots at two separate locations in two separate seasons. This worked out, and we ended up being able to combine everything: from sad, cold, darkish running to warm, sunny, happy dancing! Without the weather this contrast would never have been as strong. I'm happy with the results!Maybe an interesting question to ask. In the above example the weather facilitates the given contrasts, but it also enforce them? In this case it does, but I have the feeling that this does not have to be the case and that "happy dancing in the rain" should be possible, as much as that "sad in the sunshine" should be possible, though this feels contrasty.. possible? Or only deterring from the idea?
Just thinking by typing out loud here.. in itself these are contrasts.. what would be the ultimate weather related contrast? And I don't mean weathertype vs weathertype, but weathertype vs situation, like in the above examples, anyone care to guess? Any cool challenges?
Hmm, oh wait I was supposed to be working... oh well, back to work! (in our air conditioned office, weather problem solved) The good news seems to be that work pressure has decreased slightly as I find myself slightly more creative with photoshoots and other things cool again, yay!
"Our times are changing.
Civility and discretion were once highly valued among men. Beauty was measured by serenity and grace. To please a man, the right thing for me to do was only to turn the inside of my wrist to him while pouring his teacup, showing just a slight bit of my naked skin; it was considered a most erotic gesture.
Nowadays, the various forms of sensory overload men receive from television, the internet, or just everyday life, have dimished this effect. We Modern Geisha's now need to be more daring to accomplish our goal, and if not by graceful nudity, then by our actions.
How can just grace and serenity sustain us in current times? Why would a high-class courtesan not act playful and daring to satisfy a man? I would happily climb a tree, and play with the branches to get that special smile on his lips "
Blood and categorization.. how does that go together?
Simple. First, here's True blood! Or.. bloody vampires! or.. hmm, finding the right name can be difficult. :) In any case, here are some results of a shoot I took with Moira Mcshane and Johnny Jax during the Elf Fantasy Fair 2010. We went full-out on strobist gear in the middle of the castle grounds, and at the end had to hurry to get everything out of the way because an entire battalion of horses, golems, orcs and other warlike folk wanted to stampede right through our photo studio ;) Either way, we had a lof of fun during the shoot!
In other news, I completely revamped the categorization of my portfolio. It's now no longer sorted by model, but more by theme, with easy access to outdoor photoshoots, studio work, group shoots, or event photography. Check out the new structure, and feel free to leave a comment there! :)
This year I had the opportunity to go to the Elf Fantasy Fair in Haarzuilen, and stay from Friday till Sunday, camping on the terrain as part of a LARP/re-enactmentgroup "The Inquisition of the Church of Kriegrimm". Besides that this allowed me to have lots, and lots of fun - thank you group! - and more on this later, I had the opportunity to do some extra shots which otherwise wouldn't always be possible. Here's one. :)
A downside of having many people gather in the same spot from all over the country is that you cannot easily move to a different date when bad weather happens. So, this being the Netherlands, bad weather happened. It was pretty cold, with ugly big patches of greyness in the sky, boring colors of continuously varying intensities, and the occasional rain shower.
Luckily, bad weather also presents opportunities! I got to be creative with of camera lights, to which I applied orange filters to make everybody looking orange. It's a neat trick that is all about color contrasts: if you make somebody too orange, the camera white balance wants to correct this, but it'll have the added side effect of making the sky more blue. Exactly what I wanted!.
I added the grainy structure and the almost desaturated warm "medieval" colors afterwards.
The cause of all this was an early morning sunrise photoshoot I did with Annet for Marianne, one of her characters. I really like the results myself! I must do this waking up thing more often! ;) :)
Click on the picture for the rest of the series!