Monday, January 12, 2009

Doom on you! Doom on you!

Wes Doomsdame-0764Oy! It's already well over a week into 2009 and I've yet to post anything useful, thought provoking, or incendiary, or eye catching! Crazy. I ended up in the studio Wednesday evening with my friend Wes. She designs costumes for fun and does a pretty awesome job at it. A few weeks back, Morgan showed me the costume that Wes was working on for a New Year's Eve masquerade ball here in Austin. It wasn't finished at that point, but I mentioned to her that I'd have to drag Wes into the studio once it was done.

Now, Wes is one of those fun people that you want to have in front of the camera. She's comfortable with herself and has an intensity about her that makes you go click-click-click! with the shutter button.

Wes Doomsdame-0688So, back to Wednesday. I'd stopped by Morgan's place to pass some time before the shoot. Wes was there getting ready and putting on makeup. What I hadn't realized at the time was the accent color she was putting on to match the dress: a green that faded to yellow around her eyes and that wrapped across to her temples. It's great working with someone who knows what the hell they're doing with makeup. (Aside: I really need to find an MUA that I can consistently work with; but that's for another time.)

I headed over to the studio and started the setup. I've realized that I'm getting faster with putting everything in it's place, which is great, but the downside is that I tend to stick with the same setups, so I need to work on that this year.

James came by for a bit and dropped off the smoke machine he purchased for the studio. We talked about some ideas for the studio going forward; it's clear that I need to get a few muslins of my own because we're definitely going through seamless paper far faster than we should. You can love your chainsaw, just don't LOVE your chainsawThe downside to having more than a handful of people in the coop. Meanwhile, Wes showed up, got all set up and in her Doomsdame la Douche persona: a fitting name considering the tone and timbre of the dress.

We didn't get fancy, but we certainly used a few props that someone had left in the studio: a chainsaw and a hobby horse. One thing that was self-evident, albeit after the fact: don't lick a chainsaw if you don't know where it's been. Apparently the taste is quite unnerving, if not disgusting, according to Wes.

I've had a few comments about that photo including: it would be better if it were a gas chainsaw and if it were running! I could see the first one. But really guys, the second? Really? I think what we did worked. Especially since it was one of those unrehearsed and unprompted moments of the shoot. Wes is entertaining like that. I mean, c'mon, would YOU give it a second thought before licking a chainsaw? I thought so.

Wes Doomsdame-0835The hobby horse was just cute. I couldn't resist dragging it onto the seamless and putting her on it. It kind of reminds me of a bizarre bastardization of Veruca Salt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only more adult but still getting her way. I could just hear her saying, "But I want a pony NOW, daddy!"

One of the other shots we did was with the fog machine. Now, I have to say I expected it to work differently. I was expecting the fog to more or less hug the floor, making it nice and dense. Since we had no fans going there wasn't going to be much air movement in the room. Did it work that way? Of course not. It just filled the room. And filled it some more. And then some more. It was clear that, two minutes into it, we were going to me smoked out of the room so I turned it off. The only shot I really got that turned out well was one of the first ones where I had her backlit by one of the strobes; the smoke behind her was being illuminated so you could see some of the small swirls of whatever air current there was from us moving around.

Doomsdame la DoucheThe big lesson learned? Playing with that damn fog machine made it impossible to do anything for a good 15-20 minutes afterwards while I got the room flushed out. Talking with some of the other photogs later, the suggestion was made to use dry ice for the effect I wanted, which was to have a myst hugging her feet. I'll have to keep that in mind because I'm sure there will be other times I can use that.

After we finished up with the Doomsdame la Douche, we did a few shots without the brunette wig. Wes has lush red hair with blonde streaks in it that complimented the dress amazingly well. Once I got home and started doing post, the thought that struck me was that she could easily pass for Poison Ivy from Batman. The green makeup and dress, flaming hair. Definitely.

Finally, towards the end of the evening, she changed into a flowing silvery skirt and black leather corset. She's got these great wigs that just work as excellent detail touches, so I got a chance to throw some blue gels on the lights and bring some complimentary light into play. While I had her on the seamless working on a shot, I happened to glance over at the wall where one of the mirrors was set up and was like, "DON'T MOVE!" Wes Doomsdame-0936I'm not sure what she thought at that moment, but I turned and started snapping photos of the mirror. The reflection was great. I loved how the blue light just framed it all, with the softbox lighting her up from the other direction. It worked. I love those happy accidents.

I think my favorite photo of the evening is the first one shown. I'm not sure why really. The lighting is just striking. I love it when a face is half hidden in shadow the way Wes' is in this photo. I need to play with that idea more.

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