I’ve had a few people ask me how I took the photo of James in his Spiderman Halloween costume that I posted on my Facebook page recently, so thought I would write a quick post on the lighting setup and post-processing.
For the lighting in the studio I was actually experimenting with an unusual technique that I’d seen used by photographer Jeff Dunas when he was commissioned to photograph Jeff Goldblum. The original photograph of James is also shown here. The blue background and foreground is achieved by placing a blue filter on the camera and firing two lights straight up into the ceiling of the studio. This has the effect of creating a totally blue environment in the studio but to make sure James doesn’t turn a horrible blue-ish colour a key light with an orange gel is used to light him up. This counteracts the blue created by the filter. The key light is at camera right pointing down at James and is fitted with a 20 degree grid so that no light spills onto the background. It also gives a dramatic look for our little superhero with strong shadows on the right side of his face.
While I like the original photo as is, I thought I would play around in Photoshop to see if I could come up with a bit more of a dark, comic book look. The main steps to achieve this were:
1. Select the background and add a color balance adjustment layer so that I could change the blue background to a black (with a touch of red).
2. Add “rain” to the photo by adding a layer of noise to the image (in Screen blending mode) and applying motion blur
3. The comic book feel was gotten by using a plugin from Topaz Adjust (Detailed filter) and adjusting the opacity of this until I got a look I was happy with.
Photographing James like this in his Halloween costume could become a regular thing. I can’t wait until next year. He really wants to be Batman!!