Friday, October 1, 2010

Looking for a pregnant woman ......

Earlier this year - about January - I started on a quest to find a severely pregnant woman who would pose for a humorous photo.  I knew most women don't find themselves attractive during this time and I wanted to make the person even less attractive so I promised I would pose them so nobody would know it was them.  How hard could it be to find someone?

Well it was.  I got blank looks.  I got curious questions.  "What's it for?"  That's a common question.  You don't hear painters (artists) or sculptors being asked that question.  "It's for me!  It's for my portfolio.  It's for exhibitions and competitions.  It's to satisfy an artistic longing to create!"  No, I didn't use that last one although it might have gotten me a more positive reaction.  I did get a couple of promises - relations of friends who might 'do it'.  I even asked a woman who is a professional photographer and was pregnant.  A resounding 'no!'  You know who you are ......

Nothing happened.  It's at this stage I start to wonder if I'm missing out on the unwritten and secret language that women use and we men have no idea it's being used at all.  You know the sort of thing.  "Ah sure that'll put you out of your way"  actually means "Feck off, you're not leaving me home!"  On top of this we (men) are supposed to know when our female friends/wives/girfriends are communicating to us wordlessly.  A typical example is the newly-married man arrives home and senses something is not right.  Really, he should go back out but he stays.
"What's wrong my lovely?"
He persists.
"I know there's something"
Foolishly .......
"I'm a modern man in touch with my feminine side and I want to know what's wrong so I can put it right pet"
The comes the fatal strike ....
"If you loved me, you'd KNOW!"

Personally, my telepathy switch is turned off.  I tell all women at some time or another that this is so.  It's akin to being blind or deaf.  It's not there and you need to make allowances for that.  But back to the photograph.

Eventually I found a woman brave enough.  Let's call her Brenda to maintain her anonymity.  Even she asked me what it was for!  I explained.
My initial idea was to have the woman sit in a comfy chair facing me wearing an old and comfy tracksuit bottoms with girlie slippers with her legs crossed and one slipper hanging off her toes while she read a paper such as the Mirror or a gossip magazine.  So where's the humour?  She would have a mug of steaming tea sitting unattended on her bump.  The woman is so dismissive of the bump that she uses it as a table.

Round 1.  We tried it.  First problem was no comfy chair.  Okay so we substituted something else after moving every piece of furniture around the room.  With my camera gear and flash units with softboxes and umbrellas, the room was beginning to look more like a movie set.  The size of the room forced me to use a short focal length lens which produced the wrong image for me because the feet were too near the camera and the body was too far away.

Round 2.  Tried it sideways and it looked all wrong.

Round 3.  Moved the couch back and thought about making her lie along the couch.  This seemed like a good approach but there was one big problem.  I was getting her to read a magazine to hide her face which left the back of her head facing the camera.  It looked wrong and her hair wasn't in keeping with her unkempt but comfy look so we went shopping!

Round 4.  Back from the shops with hair rollers we completed the 'comfy look'.  Now it was time to shoot.  I had a couple of props - a mug, cereal bowl, vase and a plant.  This was when the unborn decided to wake up and let us know there was another to contend with.  Items placed on the bump had to be watched carefully for signs of movement as they were swiped by an internal foot.  The vase just couldn't be kept in place without a person holding it and the bowl had a swirling spoon in it due to the antics of the unborn.
Eventually I got my lighting set up which took a while.  I was getting severe falloff because of lack of space so ended up pointing a unit with a spill kill at an angle to the ceiling - this lit my scene from above.  I used another unit on the floor with a softbox turned down to a minimum to give some fill from the front and help light the magazine.  After that it was easy!  What I thought would take an hour took 2 1/2 hours.

As I mentioned, I'm a member of the Dublin Camera Club and next Tuesday is the start of the Winter League competitions where members can enter a maximum 2 colour, 2 black & white and 2 digital images each month for 5 months.  At the end of the 5 months trophies are awarded to the persons with the most points.  There are various other prizes as well.  I'm not in to win but I do like to showcase (vanity) and I like to get feedback about my pictures from both the judges and other members.  So today I'm going to enter this photo as one of my colour shots.

Geek data:  1/160s @ f5.6 100 ISO.  Canon 5D MkII with Canon 50mm F1.4 lens.
Processed in Lightroom 3 and Photoshop Elements 8.

Waiting ......

PS:  The print got first place.  The judge loved it.

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