Behind the Scenes: Weld Portraits

Making sparks fly

Who knew that making sparks can be so much fun? In this image, I combined 3D and Photography to create an incredible surreal image. This image was made for Weld, which is a creative co-working site in Dallas/Fort Worth. The philosophy behind Weld is to bond creative people together by figuratively welding them together. Let’s return to making sparks fly. Luckily Austin Mann a fellow travel photographer and creator of Weld was nice enough to be the model.

This image had several difficulties: creating the logo, shooting the model,  while welding and getting an impressive background to place the model in. As luck would have it, the same person we borrowed the welding torch from, had a rustic workshop which was perfect for the background. I took the Canon EOS 1D X and created the backplates from varies the angles in the workshop. Since I didn’t have any lights in the workshop, I shot each angle in HDR. This way I had some control in case an area is too bright or too dark. Once I had the background, I started working on the  Model shoot. The model placed in front of a black V-card, along with two bare strobes for rim light and one umbrella for fill light. The reason for the Black V-card background was to capture all the sparks from the welding gun. After a few hundred shots, we captured a couple of images of the sparks themselves, so I could use them later on for compositing.

Light Diagram of the shoot Light Diagram of the shoot One of the selected stills. One of the selected stills.

With photography ready, it was time for the 3D work. A flat logo of Weld was placed within Modo and wasted no time modeling the logo. After the 3D mesh of the logo had been done, it was time for the textures and lighting.  I created the texture by photographing a lot of metal objects for references. A little tweak in Adobe Photoshop helped clean up the textures. The lighting for the environment was from the HDR plate images from the workshop.  The only part left was modeling the solder on the logo. Thankfully I had a lot of references solder from the photos. The process was the same for the big logo except that it had a lot more letters.

Once every part was ready, it was time to launch Adobe Photoshop. For the final composite, I took the backplate and placed it as the base layer. Once I masked the model, the image started to take shape. I added some smoke and sparks which helped sell the atmosphere that I was after. The CGI element helped transform this image to the next level. Overall the image was a huge success at the first annual Weld show, and it became one of my favorite pieces.

Video capturing the event. Shot and edited by Jordan Bellamy


Behind the Scenes: Cathedral of Junk

Cathedral of Junk

A song of metal and nature

This image was conceived during a trip to Austin Texas. While searching for a cool spot to take pictures, I found the cathedral of Junk. It only took a quick phone call to the owner to ask for permission and I was on my way. Once arrived, I wasted no time to get my shots. The quick story of the cathedral of Junk is that one day Vince Hannemann, the creator of the cathedral started this building using junk he found in Austin. After a few years the structure became so immense that it attracted tourist. I decided that a HDR panorama from varies angles will allow a large amount of flexibility in photoshop. I set up my tripod and shot the necessary plates. Afterwards I stitched the images later in Photoshop.

The concept therefore of the shoot is to combine nature and humanity with the manmade abandoned mechanical world. While being at the Cathedral of junk, you had an eerie sense that you were standing at the last remands of civilization and Nature reestablished itself.

Casting for this project was easy. Who’d be better to embody the natural than my wife who happened to be nine months pregnant. I chose the dress because the pink would help focus the eye and I like the shine of the dress. Her jewelry and head dress was custom made for this shoot to help her blend better into the environment. The photography was fairly straight forward, the goal was to create an even light to match the background plates. I set up my home studio using a white seamless, a couple of rectangle soft-box for the rim light, and a huge 7ft Octobox for the fill. A small  orange gelled speed light served to give the hair a sun kissed looked.

Once the photography was done, it was time for the CGI work. I chose a deer because I couldn’t think of better animal to embody the natural look. I took a stock 3D deer and then retopologize the surface to create the overall shell of the deer. I place a few engine parts to make up its guts. By using stock 3d Images, I shortened my modeling time to what would have normally taking weeks to only ten hrs. I used photograph of the cathedral of junk as the light source for my render to aid the renders realistic look.

Once I had every element ready, it was time to whip out Adobe Photoshop. A quick sketch helped me figure out the overall composition. I decided on a triangle that starts from the sun continues to the model and then ends at the deer. This allowed the eye to travel around the image.

A few more hours of Photoshop retouching and the images was finally ready. The atmosphere was spot on to what I had in mind.


Behind the Scenes: Into the Future

Into the Future

Mixing babies and technology

Now this shot was an interesting one to pull off. How do I get my baby daughter to wear Google Glass, let alone get access to one? Well to achieve exactly that I turned to one of my favorite tools in my arsenal; Modo 701. The Google Glass was quickly modeled on a pre-made 3D head. The 3D head served not only for reference but also was the base to get realistic shadows. The studio set up was fairly straightforward: 2 rectangular soft boxes and one umbrella for fill. The most difficult part was to keep the attention of my daughter. After 15 minutes of playing peekaboo while shooting, she had enough. This gave me just enough time to get around a hundred photographs. Afterwards I went to Adobe Lightroom and I selected the best fitting image. I matched the position and angle of the Google Glasses to match the photograph. Thankfully Scifi backgrounds are very easy to create and after half an hour, I had the background ready for the final composition. Retouching took only a few hours in Adobe Photoshop and I ended up with a cool Scifi image of my daughter wearing Google Glasses.

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