Basically just messing around with some travel pictures from the summer school I worked at in Turkey – we did an excursion to this wonderful marble canyon. The walls were as sensuously curved as Classical sculpture, but there was a wildness too… Well, I was there at midday and the light was only so-so, and I was just scanning through my Lightroom presets and thought some X= presets (I have one called X=Polaroid+Blue but can’t find it on their site now; it might be a mod I did) made the stones look eerily bone-like. So I picked out about a dozen images that suited the style, applied that preset, and then played with them until I liked them.
I’ve been struggling a bit with decisions about how extreme to go in post processing. Mainly, the rise of Instagram and quickie filters for cameraphone images now means that there’s a lot of work out there in a style I generally like – blurry, impressionist, old-fashioned… but done horribly. Cheaply. Badly. Flat colors, dead tones, lifeless imitations.
I don’t use them incredibly often, but I have a Lensbaby Original and a pinhole plate for my Canon 60D. Using the Lensbaby is like painting with fat, sloppy oils using long-bristled brushes. Not precise – not at all! – but beautiful in its imprecision. I think the software imitations are on par with those “Turn your photo into a real sketch!” apps out there – there’s just no substitute for attention to process, detail, skill, and simple passion.
Stony shores of Långvik bay near Helsinki[/caption]Just returned from a ten day trip to Finland with the family of one of my English students. We spent a good bit of time fishing off this island, catching one pike there. About where these wonderful rocks began, I handed off my pole and picked up my camera – hadn’t caught anything but weeds (lots and lots of them) anyway.
I’ve recently been going through some tutorials on image enhancement, and one thing I saw for really making a photo “pop” was pulling out the reds and oranges. I’m not sure if I overdid it here or not, though – the rocks were vividly orange, but not quite this much. We were out under midday sun and I’d much preferred to have been there during golden hour, which was unfortunately impossible. In this picture I tipped the lighting towards golden hour saturation, purely for artistic reasons. What do you think?
Last month I did a shoot in Ankara with model Özge Can posing in a chiton, a dress common to women throughout the ancient Mediterranean, at the Roman Baths archaeological site. Özge is working on a master’s degree in environmental engineering and does modeling as a hobby, and we connected via Model Mayhem.
I’ve been thinking about writing more about where the ideas for these shoots come from, so here goes:
At the beginning of the2008 Summer Olympics, Greece hired some actresses to dress as ancient priestesses for the torch lighting ceremony. After I saw the photos, I wanted to do a similar shoot! (But with garb that didn’t look like it started life as curtains.) I’d actually done a Roman look shoot before, though it was in 2000 on a 1.3 megapixel camera (which cost $600 then…) and had a blast with it.
In January, when the school I work at was on winter break, I went down to the Mediterranean coast by Antalya with the intention of doing some shoots in the area’s ruined Greco-Roman cities. I was hoping to find a model to pose for me there and put the costume together before leaving. It didn’t work out but I did find Özge’s profile and instantly thought of Michael Whelan’s painting “Night’s Daughter“. She liked the shoot concept so we worked out meeting later in the spring.
The Roman Baths in Ankara are an open air museum with ruins dating from when ancient Ancyra was the capital of Galatia, then an ethnically Celtic part of Anatolia. (I was flabbergasted to learn the area had a Celtic history; for some reason I’d always thought Galatia was in ancient Gaul/ modern France, not – of all places – Turkey.) In addition to the foundations of the baths themselves, there are collections of tombs, marble pillars, and both Greek and Roman waystones dating from the ancient past. Since the site is on a sloping hill, shooting from a low angle allowed me to hide the modern city surrounding us.
Finally, allow me to recommend Özge to anyone needing a Gothic-look model. We did this shoot on a trade-for-images basis but she’s looking for commercial work and would be very happy to travel. Her English is excellent and she was delightful to work with. Contact her via Model Mayhem or DeviantArt.