Cosmic Girl - how it was done

Soldato
Joined
31 Mar 2006
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Sydney Australia
I dunno if you lot are interested but I thought I'd do a 'How it was done' for the Cosmic Girl photo - now that the competition is completed.

Kim and I headed out to our local park first thing in the morning once the sun was at a decent hight. I didn't want to do it too late because the length of the shadows were quite important for me.

I initially took a series of photos from a way back using the Sigma 10-20mm lens but this caused a couple of issues. The first and most obvious is that with the lens being at 10mm there were some issues with it being too far away and there not being reasonable detail in the shot. The second was that being so far back the height that I could get Kim to jump at did not lend itself to the illusion of height.

So I moved the camera closer and also had a re-think on the eventual composition. My initial idea was to get as many random objects as possible floating around the circular area including perhaps my neighbors baby and perhaps a small dog. Not having any small dogs nor the baby at hand I changed my mind and went for things that were every day stuff but also as contextual as possible.

We start with a mostly empty photo:
People.jpg


The next trick was the actual photo taking. My first take on the process involved Kim standing on the step ladder and posing with the follow up a result of getting her to jump off the ladder and catching her mid air. After the first couple of attempts with the jumping off the step ladder I figured that I had to change the approach.

Kimonstepladder.jpg


I had the top half of her sorted from the above shot so the next trick was to get her bottom half looking like she was floating. Obviously the jumping was the right direction on this - short of getting a harness and a crane which are slightly out of my means. The main issue here is that there is only so high a person can jump so I resolved to address the issue in the post work. Kim being the absolute soul of tolerance jumped up and down quite a few times each time with a variation on her foot positioning until I got what I was looking for.

kimjumping-2.jpg


You'll notice that the shadow and the feet are significantly lower than in the final image - it was purely in the post work that I shifted both Kim and her shadow upward to add to the illusion of height.

The next trick was floating stuff. This bit was pretty easy - I just got Kim to run around with various objects and either hold them or throw them ensuring that the objects shadows were easily resolved and her fingers were not overlapping the camera facing edges. I also got her to chase a couple of pigeons to give the shot a bit of movement.

handbag-1.jpg


book.jpg


chasingbird.jpg


The end result is a very basic composite of all the shots - if you have a clean background to work with then painting out any of the other layered shots is a very simple process. For balance sakes I moved some of the objects and their shadows around, straightened the image (my tripod is rubbish) and worked with the levels a bit. I cleaned up Kims arms because I had over exposed them a bit by using a brush created from her own skin where it was exposed properly and finally chucked a boarder around it.

End result:
Cosmic Girl
3847831477_7973cbe86d_o.jpg
 
Last edited:
Soldato
Joined
1 Oct 2008
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Glebe Park
ah you've just ruined the illusion for me now :p

Good to see how things like that are done though. Thanks for the explanation :)
 
Soldato
OP
Joined
31 Mar 2006
Posts
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Location
Sydney Australia
You're welcome - it was a fun shoot to do. I always find the process of forming a composition to be both interesting and a really good learning experience.

If I can find the time I will put together a thread demonstrating the compositing technique.
 
Soldato
Joined
22 May 2003
Posts
4,055
I had an idea that is how you did the shot, nicely done though as Im sure it took quite a bit of work in post to get it right.

Shes a good sport but at least shes got a great photo for her troubles she can print out :)
 
Soldato
Joined
19 May 2005
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18,009
Location
Lancashire
Awesome stuff, worth the effort that went into it.

The only thing i might have done differently would be to not have the other people in the shot. So that it looks like there is no gravity at all. Or got them to jump as well :p.
 
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