Blog #196 2/23/17
Epson, the maker of high end printers, asked us to make advertising photographs showing the tremendous range of color capabilities of their products. They inquired whether I’d be able to make images of a model who could somehow be shaped like a drop of paint and then color her the eight major colors their printers are capable of producing.
“Well, of course!” we (Beverly and I) said. And then, as sometimes happen when I enthusiastically accept a uniquely challenging assignment, I asked myself: “Now what?”
I had to solve a large number of problems, each a significant challenge. I went about finding answers by asking myself questions.
Question #1: What does a drop of paint look like?
I spent a few hours with a viscous fluid and an eyedropper, releasing a drop and photographing it as it was extruded from the dropper.
This might sound easy, but it took a few hours and about 500 exposures to get it just right.
When this part of the work was over, this seemed like the best, most representative form that a drop of paint would take.
Question #2: Could I find a model who could fit her body into the form of this drop?
I made a drawing of the drop to fit inside my camera’s viewing screen so that I could see how – and if – a body could fit into it perfectly.
To find the body in question, I decided right away to use a dancer. A model might have a pretty, photogenic face and a good figure, yet lack the flexibility to “fit in a bottle” the way a dancer can, and that was what this assignment called for.
Every dancer’s body is different and I was determined to find the best “fit” for the concept.
I cast and studied dozens of dancers. Here, four of them; one can readily discern differences in shapes.
I tried all sorts of ways to fit the bodies into my drawing of the “drop.“
This method was “close’ but their rear ends were flattened by sitting, so I rejected this approach.
I decided to place the surface onto which the dancers sat away from the camera, as a background, to resemble a paint drop running down a wall.
These are examples that were close but still not perfect. The red marks show where part of the dancer either extended beyond the drop’s form or did not fill it sufficiently.
Finally, I found the perfect “fit.”
This is Emery LaCrone, a marvelous dancer and choreographer, our perfect “drop.”
Question #3: What body paint to use?
At this point I needed to find what material to use that both looked like paint as well as provide a neutral “canvas” for the colors.
My dear wife Beverly (who runs all functions of our studio) volunteered to be the research subject:
AirBrush material was too matte.
Another material, also too matte and flat.
This material had the right “shine,” but the gray percentage was too light.
Finally! Pan Stick Fond De Teint, 50% gray, and shiny like paint was just what I’d been looking for.
Beverly Ornstein, what a sport!
Question #4: Why gray?
With 50% gray one can create any color in Photoshop. It was only a matter of identifying the proper Epson Printer ink color and then replicating that color in Photoshop.
This was the gray used in the test for specific body paint.
Here are the tests showing how Photoshop was used to develop colors using the gray background.
Question #5: What should the edge between paint and unpainted skin look like?
We needed to test the junction between the body that was painted and the back of her neck which was not.
Here are the tests of the junction.
Ultimately, we decided on a mostly straight edge, though not too straight, so it wouldn’t look mechanical.
We were now ready. We rehearsed a mini-set of positions with Emery. Then, as she was being painted, I lit the set. I photographed from a ladder, 12 feet above the platform onto which she was carefully placed.
I made many photographs, having her move minimally with each exposure so that every drop would be a little different from the others.
I also used Plexiglas that reflected the diffused umbrella I used as one of a few lights. I readily removed this reflection later, in “post.“
Here are 126 of the few hundred exposures I made.
Glitterati Incorporated, the publisher of the Retrospective, Schatz Images: 25 Years is now offering the two- book boxed set at a discount from the original price. The set comes with an 11″x14” print of the buyer’s choice.