When I started out in photography, it was in the realm of photojournalism. I enjoyed the raw, authentic nature of emotions on show, and it allowed the introvert in me to document as an observer. It brought me to become a photojournalist with The Straits Times for three years. If there was any kind of ‘artist’ in me, it was that inner yearning that made me venture out.
Today I am experimenting more, not just in concepts (like my SGXY series) but also in execution and post-production. I’m so thankful that my brilliant make-up artist Jean is also an expert in special effects. With so many cosplay photos of superheros and anime characters out there, why not jump right out of the box and off the table and do something potentially bizarre?
Body painting is an arduous process, I can see how actors can spend hours doing make-up and effects in a big sci-fi movie production. It took Jean almost 2 hours to paint just half the model’s body, and most of it is just black!
For the actual photoshoot, I particularly wanted to stay away from the soft light look that is so prevalent in fashion or corporate portraits. With the whole body-painting concept an experiment in itself, I wanted to push beyond my comfort zone when it came to lighting.
Using 2 speedlights with grids (aka. eggcrates) placed left and right behind the model, I’d get harsh backlight to outline the model. As the superhero character was Green Lantern, this fit in perfectly since his powers give him a ‘glow’ anyway. Rounding off is a fill light from the front. As you can see, this version of Green Lantern costume is modeled after Ryan Reynold’s in the recent film adaptation (which wasn’t too good, in my opinion), hence no white gloves or white patches in the torso area like in the comics.
Post-production was the most painful part of the process. Just to remind you I had zero formal training in Photoshop special effects editing, and everything I had known was self-taught. Thankfully I picked up some tips online on how to create the Green Lantern’s glow (by using layer styles), and I found a nice flare, turned it to lime green, and used it for his Power Ring.
If there was one thing I wish I could’ve done better, it’d be making the sword construct much more realistic, as though it was really made out of pure energy. I imagine putting some fiery fizzle over the blade would help, but I just don’t know to create that effect. If anyone out there is a Photoshop wizard and wouldn’t mind sharing, please drop me a comment or e-mail!
Green Lantern is just the start of it. We’re hoping to do other superheroes and villains once we’ve figured out the logistics. “Beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!”