Way of the Exploding Lens
"All I could think of when I got this idea was an old martial arts game called ‘Way of the Exploding Fist’…"
So hence – partly – the title.
Couple that with things like the martial arts scenes in films like “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, where the protagonists and antagonists could sort of ‘float a bit’ during combat, and there it is, the rather tenuous link to the floating lens components idea.
So what do we need to make our composite?
A product shot white box. Two flashes set up to give a general light glow – a Nikon Speedlight SB-910 to camera left – and a blue highlight – a second Nikon Speedlight with a blue gel and snooted with a Rogue Flashbender to camera right.
The snoot was narrowed at the end to give a blue strip highlight along the length of the lens, as well as being fixed behind my camera position to make the source smaller. Furthermore, as the speedlights were obviously off-camera they needed to be wirelessly triggered, in this case with a Phottix Odin transmitter and receiver set.
That, and an awful lot of Photoshop.
Each component was either handheld in position, or held up with chopsticks! Then it was a case of making the composite image in Photoshop CC, which involved a lot of trial and error positioning of the different components, even after which a bit of scaling and rotating in software was needed to get everything to line up acceptably. The free transform tool is most definitely your friend for this kind of thing.
The composites were saved as high-compatibility psd files and worked on further in Lightroom CC to give the colour, split-toned and black and white images you can see below; this was pretty much the same as the standard work-up I give to straight out of camera images.
As a project that deliberately set out to make extensive use Photoshop CC’s capabilities, I was reasonably pleased, though I would certainly approach certain aspects of this differently next time.
For one thing, I discovered just how easy it is to get inconsistent exposures if you’re not watching where your arm is positioned relative to your Speedlight when holding the different parts. Not to entirely excuse myself, but this was very difficult, even with an intervalometer to help me.
The second thing is that I would definitely use my Manfrotto Junior geared head, rather than the standard head, to get much greater control over camera position; I completely underestimated how important this would be, and had to struggle on by the time the time I realised my error.
Despite my best efforts, there are still a couple of deliberate mistakes in the images below. One was, well, a complete accident that I couldn’t go back to and correct, whilst the other was just a case of practicality.
See the mini-gallery below; can you spot them?
All the best,
Chasing Rays Photography.