52i 1 – Santana

thumbnail for Santana 52i

This is the first photo in my 52i project.

During the whole December I have been bombarded with holiday-ish photos of all kind. And I don’t mind. I congratulate those artists that can create joyful and positive works. But, in all this same-ness I decided to go different.

I wanted photo with a pinch of holiday in it, but which will have a dark side to it.

The first idea was to have a ‘Drinking Santa’. After all, this fellow has been working hard and all he gets is a trip to forgotten land for the next 11 months. I bet that he has some issues 🙂

So, I took the Santa hat I had and tried hiding it somewhere in my pockets, where it will appear hidden but visible 🙂 That did not turn out well, so I though to hide it under another hat. Looked better. Now, needed accessories: one bottle, Christmas bag and some lighting setup.

I tried to use my small 430EX flash as background light, but for some reason, it just did not want to fire off, so I went with just two studio mono blocks.

The first one was with default reflector, put on the high left and used as separation and hair light (no honeycomb grid used). I turned it so that it casted some light on the background and made it more interesting and as if there is a light ray coming from the left.

The second one was used with 60cm softbox (23 inches). Positioned right of the model and slightly above him.

I don’t have a flash meter, so I can’t tell you exact f numbers for strobes. Here is the diagram:

And here is one of those test shots.

52i santana draft drinking santa

(the bag says: Merry Christmas in Bulgarian)

I was satisfied and was about to turn off the lights, when I decided to do some tighter portraits of Santa with no bottle (that bag is a big distraction for the eye, isn’t it).

The only different for this setup was that the camera was moved a bit closer. The idea went slightly to a more broad terms into something: we all have both dark and light side.

The raw image I choose to work with:

(This is unedited raw image. As you can see White Balance is off)

I corrected the WB, increased contract (used Curves and also dodge/burn). Desaturated image and slightly sharpened the beard.

Here it is (click for full preview):

P.S. this was self-portrait session, and as always it was fun and also pain in the … focus.

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