Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Man at the Table

man at the table (self portrait)
Well, this is what I was doing on Valentines Day weekend :)

Actually, I had been working on this SP for a few weeks and finally finished a take I was overall pleased with, and it happened to be on Valentines Day.
Thanks to Georgine Benvenuto, owner of Gallery 364 in Bay Ridge Brooklyn for putting up with my requests for her thoughts on each take as I went through the process of the concept. Georgine is a fantastic photographer as well as owning and running the gallery and its been my pleasure and benefit to have her as a friend over the years. Wonderful person too.

This is meant to be light hearted and even funny as is most of my SP that come with the intention of poking fun at myself and the characters I create.

Ok, for the strobists out there who are interested in how this was made, this was done using two 580EXll speedlites and a vivitar 285HV all triggered with Paul C. Buff Cybersync wireless triggers. No TTL, all lights and settings are manually set.

The background is a botero collapsible muslin which is about 5x7 ft and grey. I hit it with the Vivtar shooting through a green gel for the color and separation of the subject.

A 580EXll speedlite was shooting through a photoflex 16x22" softbox for the main light and was camera right about 3ft away from and just above head level of subject.
The second 580EXll speedlite was set at subject right and behind shooting through a small lumiquest softbox and aiming at the right shoulder,hair and side of face.

Canon 5D mk2 on a Slik 700DXpro tripod with Bogen Ball head using a Canon programmable remote shutter release.

I had not smoked cigarettes in about 20 years and so most of the takes had my eyes closed as I was squinting from the smoke burning them. . .not very cool glad no one was there :) The cigarette case was given to me by a friend of the family who had acquitred it from a friend who passed away. The case nust be at least 50 years old and still had about 8 filterless cigs inside. Very old and stale smelling, though.

I get asked about my post processing often and while I like to offer much information there are certain things that I like to keep to myself. Basically, I desaturate, tone map a bit with PS gradient tools, layers using "mulitply" properties and sometimes "color dodge" properties, sometimes add diffuse glow and textures and of course dodging and burning here and there.

Yes, it was another Bad Hair Day, and I had to take advantage of it. . .
thanks for looking, hope your not totally disgusted and will return again in the future;)


willow said...

That natural prop of yours is the greatest. Never call it a bad hair day.

Love the swan ash tray, glasses, watch and book title. They all have a great surreal look. And where'd you get that fabulous sweater?

Sheila said...

Bwuahahaha! I guess it's rude to laugh at a portrait where it appears you are miserable about "her leaving you." This is soooooo opposite of you, I think you may have a 4th dimension twin or something. I love the smoke swirling around you in the back. But it comes down to the eyes, those wonderful eyes...it tells the whole story.


You know those old cigs are probably pre-pesticide-al...!

Are you making these set ups with a time calender in mind.

...I think I mean, a time line laid out in front of us, kind of a set up of eventful thought spots..?

Keep it up.

Julie Magers Soulen said...

This one had me laughing out loud! Honestly, you are killing me with your lack of ego and your unbelievable photography. Even on a bad hair day you are charming. The props are perfect!! Where did you find that book!! Well done my friend!

slommler said...

Great portrait! And thanks for all the detail of the process. I appreciate that. The props are fabulous!!

She Writes said...

Thank you so much for your kind words at my blog today!

I like your humor and that you use it in your art. Great shot. Cig looks perfectly natural.

I also enjoy anyone who can take a bad hair day and make it work :).

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Love this Gary - can only try to imagine all the thought and work that goes into producing such a piece. Love the smoke swirling around your head - and your rugged hands.

Such self-deprecating humour can only come from someone with a good, confident sense of self. I bet you have a giggle or two while you are doing it!

Victoria Bennett Beyer said...

Another great shot!

drollgirl said...

love it!!!

we are inundated with images of perfectly coiffed males and females day in and day out; sometimes it is good to see the scruffier looks, too! :)

-Don said...

What a wonderful work of art! Very compelling and causes you to really check out all the details. The Lonely Hearts Club matchbook is a nice subtle touch.

I'm intrigued by the foreshortening of the book and elements on the table. I like how they bring you into composition.

Great job,


Daryl said...

love it .. I am sure I would have liked each take .. I am married to a video editor and I find myself always being asked 'what do you think' after an nth of a nano second was edited from some take or other ... critic'ing the finished product whatever it maybe is always a lot easier .. of course then it gets re-edited ... ever feel as if you're in a mobius strip?

Gary Heller said...

Thanks, if your ok with me looking like this, then things can't be all that bad :)

Willow, I think the sweater was one of those old Christmas gifts that get put aside until we figure out what to do with them. I figured it out. . .

Sheila, I'm pleased that you find it funny to get you laughing. As a matter of fact, I ultimately left the arrangement of the items in this "staged" looking way because I thought it added to the self pity party that this character seems to be throwing for himself, and thought it added to the humor.

Teri, good point about the pre-pesticide call LOL I still don't feel they were too good for me. . . .
I'm not thinking about a timeline with these in mind although i do have it recorded exactly when and at what time these were produced. Not a bad idea, though. Thanks

Julie, glad you got a laugh! that book was actually, titled by Moi. the title had changed a few times with every take. I have another book reading coming along soon, stay tuned :)

SueAnn, thanks for your good words. I appreciate your time.

Amy,(She Writes) Always a pleasure to visit your posts. thanks for coming by and leaving your thoughts.

Bonnie, just as you wrote in your last post on your blog about consistency and getting silly sometimes, I feel these pieces let me loose and yes, I do have a laugh especially when I'm going over all the takes on the computer and looking at my expression. Jeez, its humiliating and fun at once lol.

Victoria, thanks for dropping in

DG, yep, I'm tired of all the perfect people out there. Gonna play up on my imperfections. . . and everyone elses too. :)

Don, thanks for the good words, very encouraging. I'm surprised that you could read the writing on the matchbook at the low resolution from a computer screen. In print, lots of detail and text are easy to make out, but i myself can hardly read what is written on the matchbook on the screen.
Thanks much.

Daryl, your so on target with that. It is difficult to go over all the variables and decide as each one has something you like or don't like about it. It comes down to finding the best compromise that you feel worked for what you were after.
yes, I feel like i'm in a strip as i'm sorting through all the thumbnails of each shot one after another. . .like a horrible stop action film

kyungmee said...

I love it..and loving all your sides;) I quit smoking about 11 years ago but still attempt to have one on really bad days and regret it as I choke on the smoke..lol! This really pulls together nice! Great job!

Sharon McPherson: AUTHOR said...

Ye, totally disgusted. Not surprised 'she' left. I imagine three years into marraige; this is how it will be. lol

Great effort.

DJ said...

I hate to repeat myself, but you're a wonderful story-teller, kid.
And so much work in this...
Wish you'd try an asymmetrical set-up with the props. More on one side of the book, to break up the curve around your hand.
And turn the glasses so they were placed by you as if just taken off. They are turned outward right now.
With facial expressions like that, you should have been an actor. I would have paid to see this movie. I would have put it in the "Drama" category, though. Those eyes are nothing to laugh at.

Anonymous said...

This is quite cosmical, "she's gone, what now?" haha

Really great portrait!! lovely tone and details!!

joanne May said...

Hi Gary,
Sorry for the delay in visiting you, I have only just started catching up with people on blogger since my cold.
In this photo, you look how I felt when I had the cold!:)
It made me laugh, when I first saw this image of you but it is great.
Your face has a lot of character and expressions. Just right for portrait photography and paintings!
Thank you for your kind comment about my jewellery photo. It is always good to see you at my place.:)
Best wishes.

diane said...

Gary, this series is wonderful (True Evil, Eleanor included). You really are such a good photographer, that you bring the medium into the realm of true art. Way to go.

Kaylyn said...

Ok. If you say you approach photography as art, I'm gonna look at it as art. Deal?

These are really wonderful and almost painterly images. Really intriguing. Thanks!

Cherie/ Butterfly Dreamer said...

I love this shot.It made me smile and want a cigarete. A work of art.

SKIZO said...

It's Awesome.
See you.

Adrian Popa said...

Superb work. As usual, very touchy!