Thursday, August 13, 2009

Light Painting in a Cemetery

Last night I did a photo shoot. In a cemetery. Wearing not much at all.

This project came about via an artsy friend. First he was interested in having me model for a bust sculpture, which would have required him to slather my chest and perhaps other body parts (like my hands) while I sat still until the plaster dried. But he recently discovered light painting, and decided a cemetery would make the perfect backdrop.

With light painting, the photographer doesn't use a flash. He uses a flashlight, or other light source, and moves it around during a long exposure. The pattern of illumination creates cool effects. Thanks to digital photography, it's easy to check out each shot and make adjustments for the next. Wikipedia explains it here.

He'd checked out the site...deep within thevast cemetery...and had taken test shots with a friend. He'd also cut out a bunch of shots/paintings that reflected what he had in mind and pasted them into a little notebook and had emailed ideas. While I reclined, sat or stood as frozen as possible (a challenge during some rather balletic moves), he ran around with the flashlight. He'd direct the beam in different ways to highlight various parts of the frame. Some shots were done with the flashlight hung from a tree with fishing line, with the flashlight swirling in a big circle over my head. For a few shots, he used two flashlights: a cool and a warm one.

Though I'd brought and borrowed interesting, lacy or clingy pieces of clothing, my main wardrobe was a long swath of white tulle. At times I also wore a vintage parachute thing as a skirt. I just wasn't comfortable wearing nothing at all. And I'm glad you can Photoshop out any extraneous naughty bits that snuck in, and which to my mind distract from the shot.

Why did I do this? A. To show you can still look pretty darn good even in your late 40s. B. To preserve my appearance in a unique way before everything starts sagging. C. Because being a model is fun. D. Because maybe at some point I can show the best pictures to my agents in the hope of getting more print work.

Some of the pictures are amazing. In some the light painting didn't turn out the way he intended. For example, there'd be too much light on my shoulder and not enough on my face. In others, possibly because I was concentrating so hard on keeping still for 15 seconds at a time (try it right now and see how long that is), my expression is kind of frozen. Despite having watched every episode of America's Next Top Model, it's not always easy to smile with your eyes or be fierce as Tyra advises, especially while leaning in an uncomfortable position or extending one leg high in an arabesque.

Though I put on a lot of makeup and dark lipstick (he wanted to border on Goth), the light was so bright it doesn't look like I'm wearing any. We also used gold powder, which looked great up close but in a few of the shots appears as brownish streaks that will need to be edited out. He'd also brought some corn starch to whiten my skin, but we never got around to trying it.

Now that we know what works and what doesn't, we may do another shoot. He may do some kind of show, or turn the pics into postcards or something. We shall see.

4 comments:

EilisFlynn said...

Sounds interesting ... and for your sake, I hope your area was having its usual scorching summer weather!

The (Mis)Adventures of a Single City Chick said...

I hope you post a couple of the shots here so we can see what the finished outcome was! Very interesting!

gjbc said...

Ruth...
Such a pleasure shooting with you last night. I'm cropping and tweaking. There's some amazing stuff there! I have a tube of your gold makeup, absently slipped into my pocket. Hope to see you soon, (maybe even fully dressed)and I'll get it back to you! Thanks again- you are truly beautiful.

Ruth said...

@Eilis: actually, it was rather cool, but pleasant.

@SingleCC: We aren't exactly sure what, if anything, we're doing with them yet...but perhaps we should post one...?

@gjbc: Thanks for all the kind words! And thanks for arranging the shoot.