On Saturday I wrote a post about my ideas for using a couple of giant pipe segments in a conceptual photo. I ended up having a couple of lovely friends Francisco Graciano and Eran Bugge come over and play the roles of savior and damsel. Here is the result (Click to enlarge):
As you can see it ended up a bit differently than I had originally planned (as things like this usually do). First, I gave up on the caving idea, no exciting enough, plus I couldn't get my hands on the equipment I'd need to make it believable anyhow. That's when I came up with the idea of them running from the imagined jaws of a cthulhu-like monster from beneath the ground.
The first thing I had to do was move the pipes and gravel pile to a more desolate location, so I co-opted a landscape I took on the salt flats at the bottom of Death Valley at dawn. Much better. Cisco and Eran showed up and we shot about 30 pictures of them if various forms of the pose with Cisco standing on the edge of a table (with my friend Guillaume serving as a counterweight. As you can see I had a soft light from below blasting them to match the light from the pipe, plus one behind to rim light Cisco a little bit. There was also another strobe next to the camera bouncing off the wall to give some overall illumination to the shadows that the other two lights caused.
Compositing the two together was the hard part, along with the random science photos of tentacles. That stuff took a couple of hours. Cleaning up the masks on each element, playing with curves to try to get the contrast and brightness to match between layers.
I posted a version on facebook and G+ last night at around this point. I knew normally I'd spend another hour or two playing with it to really polish things up, but I was tired so I went to sleep. This morning however I added the final touches. Smoke coming up from the pipes, a minor lens flare or two, a lightning bolt, plus a whole lot more 1 or 2 pixel clean-ups.
Is the end result believable? Well it is a giant underground octopus attacking my friends in the middle of Death Valley so let's be reasonable about the answer to that question. That said, I think it's successful and silly, and a lot of fun. It ended up very different than I originally intended, but also much better. Not bad for a weekend project.
That said, I would have bet money that they were going to choose this shot for the cover, and in the end it didn't even make the cut. That kind of thing never ceases to surprise me.