How to create a picture that looks like a painting

December 27, 2014   2172 views

Working with mixing lighting. Strobe and Continuous light

I always try to make as much as can the vivid, unusual, memorable photos. Once I got an idea to make a photograph, which would be reminiscent of a picture painted by a painter. Of course, there are a lot of plug-ins in Photoshop that imitate this technique, but I wanted to create such effect using only and only studio techniques. Such photo should increase its value and significance, and therefore interest from audiences and critics.
For the first photo I chose the style of the Impressionism: I wanted to create "painting" which was written with large, confident strokes, had a small range of colors, and looks maximally not like a photo, but like the real painting.

At first I started with background. I took a large piece of white paper background and folded it several times "in the accordion style", periodically changing the direction of the folds. In the end, I got pretty crumpled background, having deep folds uniformly distributed over the entire field and quite chaotic.

Then I set two continuous lighting source on every side of the background, far enough from each other and facing to each other. I derected these lighting units along background surface, used color gels: blue over one of them and red over another. Such solution allowed me to get spotty background, in some places quite dramatically lit with one of the colors, in some parts with another color, but in most parts I got lighting gradients, smooth transitions from one color to another. It was assumed that these spots would be blurred with long exposure with continuous light and would make an illusion of brush strokes. With slightly different colors as a painter usually makes.

But I was planning to leave the model sharp, as if the artist was concentrated on it more carefully, traced all the details in this area. At the same time, I wanted to keep the style, which you saw already on the background, so here I also had to put some strokes of brushes. For this, I used such solution: I put a piece of glass in front of the model on which I applied thick strokes of hair gel with a brush. Now, checking the image through the viewfinder, I inflicted strokes to those places of the glass, as if a painter inflicted them on the real picture. I closed the aperture to put these strokes into the depth of field, more clearly visible in the photo.

Next, I put the beauty dish as a key spot light, placing it slightly to the right from the glass, not to have reflection from the its surface, which closes model. I often have to use glass in the shootings, and the formula for success in its use is quite simple - it is necessary to slightly rotate the glass out of the key light, and this lighting source will not be reflected in it. This strobe lighting source worked in the same color temperature as all continuous lighting sources had, wearing warm 204 conversion gel.

When mixing red and blue gels turned out its color to primarily purple, I put 2 continuous lighting units on the every sides of model behind the glass. I put purple gels on them and got a color, very similar to background. Of course, the was continuous and also helped create effect of brush strokes when I moved my camera later.

Hasselblad camera has a limited range of ISO. Usually in studio shooting I rarely use more then ISO 200. On larger values the pictures become noisy, reducing details. However, in this case high noise were relevant, desirable styling, which looks like "canvas" and the high 1600 ISO granularity made the photograph more and more similar to the real picture made by the painter over canvas. Yes, also the desire for greater depth of field and 300 Watt continuous lamps required so great level of ISO .
Later in the process of shooting, like in many other cases, I moved the camera during the exposure, trying in such short exposure to make a few small movements that would imitate strokes of paint, produced by the artist's brush.

Data snapshot:
Camera: Hasselblad H3DII
Lens: Hasselblad 4.0 210 mm
Aperture: f / 14
Exposure time: 0.8 seconds
ISO: 1600