siamesesam
siamesesam

Holgasaurus II



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Magnificent Capture
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Behind The Lens

Location
This photo is a digital manipulation (yes), and thus it was shot in several times and several locations. However, the landscape was provided by the dunes of the famous Beauduc beach, France. I made a series of these black and white sandscapes there in Beauduc, I am fond of this place. You arrive there after tens of kilometres of a raw and bumpy trail between the salt marshes of Camargue, wondering if your car will eventually make it, and discover this peaceful place ... Beauduc was a fishermen village where people lived in old buses and trailers and shacks, and is now a natural reservation of which the French Federation of Kite Surf is in charge.
Time
Late afternoon it was, the landscape session I mean.
Lighting
I remember, my flash card was full, and I was forced to shoot in Jpeg instead of raw. I was afraid I couldn't achieve great results in post editing, but the light was so easy, the sand so golden and the sky so softly blue, that my black and whites worked great on my computer. Of course the lights on the gigantic camera and on the character were digitally tweaked, because both were added afterwards. Same goes for the shadow of the character.
Equipment
I was working, at that time, with my Canon 5D. The landscape and the character were shot in natural light, and the plastic camera was shot in studio setting, with flash. If you look thoroughly, you can see the light is misdirected !
Inspiration
As said before, I did a lot of sandscape photography in Beauduc, and I came out with a series I was very happy with. Looking at these pictures, I realised that it was easy to lose scale : they were featureless, except for the alternance of dunes and ripples in the sand, and tended to abstraction. I wanted to give way to this scaleless feeling in a litteral fashion, by including a huge camo camera, and a dwarven character struck by the discovery. The prehistorical animals were big. Then, a prehistorical camera certainly had to be big as well ! I came out with this idea after I went back home and started to edit my series on the computer.
Editing
I had my background, my landscape of dunes. I had to shoot my character and my camera, and mix the lot together in my editing software. I cropped them and pasted them on different layers, stitched them with the sand using brushes on fusion masks, and painted the lights and shadows accordingly, using other brushes. I had, of course, to apply the fitting black and white conversion to the character and camera items. I also made a colour version of the manipulation, but I was really in love with my black and white beach, so I published the monochrome version.
In my camera bag
My bag is heavy, needs rationalisation ! I carry around my 5D MKII, mounted with its Sigma 24-70, and a spare Zenitar fisheye 16mm and a Jupiter 200mm. These last lenses are all manual, that's how I like them, because I tend to use hyperfocal settings and not so much playing with autofocus. In my bag there is also an intervallometer, a flash and a remote trigger, and some lights (I'm often out at night). Attached to the bag, a convenient tripod. Can be added : a toy camera for fun, a Lensbaby, heavy gear like a Mamiya RB67 ... after that, it is really heavy.
Feedback
Photomanipulation is fun, but time consuming. You will find yourself arranging bits of your image one pixel at a time, because, even when you zoom out to normal view, it shows. One should always start from imagination. A global feeling, a global view, will help one to find or shoot pieces that fit together during the process. So ... think first, then shoot.

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