Sorry gang, this is it. I'm writing this after spending nearly 4 hours to get this photo of Gretchen's Quinceanera dress for her album. This has been something of a matter of pride, since my first effort was a disaster. Now I'm not holding this image up for it's esthetic merit, but rather as an example that things aren't always as easy as you might think.
This photo has a history. Three weeks ago I tried to make the photo, but while I was satisfied with the lighting, the original background and the visual concept didn't make it. My go-to blue background was more distracting than helpful, and even though I struggled mightily to get things done right, nobody liked the image. The main problem was my initial concept: I had created an image where the disembodied dress floated in front of the background, without any sense of context. It was actually rather spooky, since it looked like the Invisible Woman was wearing it, or should I say "floating" in it. Well, at least the colors looked pretty good. Here it is (Photo #1).
This "floating in space" look was a visual dead end. Some friends suggested that a hanger would add some context, so I bought some satin hangers just for the shot. I still didn't like the idea of the dress hanging from the loops, so I decided to hide them with flowers. I went to a local craft store and purchased a red rose garland, along with some light colored "stemmed" roses, and a single pink, long stem rose, just in case.
Again, here's the final shot after the two images were merged and treated to lots and lots of cloning. Once again, I have a dress floating in space, but not nearly so spooky with the hanger and the flowers.
This was a lot of work for an image that could have been and easy shot if I raised the dress and the background and eliminated any hint of a floor beneath the dress. But If anyone asks about the juxtaposition of the rose beneath the dress, I can truthfully answer that it was really there, and can claim that it wasn't Photoshopped in place. This is also true if you ignore the extensive post production the image required.
My take-away from the project was an appreciation of the difficulties of getting a crease-free, shadowless white background. It would have been easier if a roll of background paper was available, but weight and portability issues would have made the option impractical in the extreme. I probably need to explore a different way to store fabric backgrounds, or at least find some way to relax the wrinkles. I learned a lot, but it came at a high cost.
I just hope Gretchen likes the shoot. Now on to the rest of the accessories.