It is often interesting to provide a bit of “behind the scenes” insight into what it takes to successfully create imagery that satisfies the client’s needs, a peek behind the curtain, if you will. Recently, we were asked by Senior Living Executive Magazine to create imagery that spoke to the need to balance financial considerations with the necessities of work, food, and energy. The concept of a board on a fulcrum arose, with a symbol of finances on one side, and symbols of the other concerns, balanced precariously, on the other side.

We settled upon a pink piggy bank as a symbol of our monetary concerns. Unfortunately, the one piggy bank that could be found that matched our vision of its general shape also happened to be white in color and wearing both a tiara and a tutu.SAXMAN170914_Argentum-107

The tutu was not a big deal, as it simply pulled off, leaving a couple spots of adhesive that were easily removed digitally.

The tiara, being a part of the overall molded shape, presented more of a challenge. Not removable, it covered a large portion of the head and, at the angle we desired, obscured part of the rear ear. It was clearly necessary to find another portion of the pig that mimicked the shape in that area, photograph it cleanly in that position with that lighting, and then digitally combine with the original image. Rotating the pig so that the front ear was roughly in the position of the rear ear, and creating a source capture, did the trick.

The color shift was done simply by altering settings in Lightroom, masking the color to the perimeter of the pig, and applying to the final photo.PigProgressionx4

These techniques were tested prior to the actual shoot, and then repeated with the pig in the final file.

On the day of the shoot, other challenges awaited, primarily how to “balance” a collection of disparate items precariously, yet realistically. We knew that digital post-production would be necessary, but I wanted to minimize it and capture real shadows and overlap of items wherever possible. Therefore, I ruled out shooting each item independently and simply cutting them together, as that would look “fake.”

I decided to try to combine as many items as I could into one shot, using clamps, wire, gaffers tape, pins…whatever it took to get things together realistically. Real balancing was out of the question, but I knew the support system placed strategically behind the objects could be digitally removed. This was difficult enough, but it also needed to be accomplished with a pleasing composition that fit the client’s design requirements for cover text and masthead.

I had imagined being able to bring 3 or 4 items together at a time and that ultimately we’d have to composite 3 or 4 separate images to create the final file. As it was being built, however, it became evident that it was not only possible to get all the objects together, but preferable, as it would ensure our composition was balanced (pun intended) and fit within the confines of the art director’s layout.SAXMAN170915_Argentum-143

The support system had to be secure enough to allow multiple exposures to be made, as many of the items required slightly different, or specific, lighting. Needless to say, great care needed to be taken around the set, as any bump of the table, any props, camera, or a light stand might send us back to the beginning of the process. After completion of the arrangement, a creative decision was made to swap the butternut squash with a spaghetti squash, so the stability of the contraption proved essential when doing this.4SourceShots

A few extra odds and ends needed to be shot as well, such as source to cover the unfinished end of the plank everything was balanced on, and the replacement of the fulcrum with a large wooden dowel that better fit the color scheme. And, of course, the pig rotated so that the tiara could be replaced.2FinalSource

And the final result…FinalX2As always, all images are copyrighted and any use without prior expressed written consent is prohibited. I appreciate your respecting my work and livelihood!

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