last week, I stumbled upon an old Street fighter game while browsing through some old games. Man that brought back memories. I still remember the hours spent with it in front of the TV or my Gameboy, smashing buttons and yelling at my friends. I once played it against Marie, who is a total noob regarding all pc / console games, but somehow managed to kick my ass so hard, it was a shame. Damn how I hated these button mashers ;-). This game, together with some old Bruce Lee movies and maybe a touch of Dragonball, are mainly responsible for me starting to learn martial arts as a kid. Back then, I never thought that I’ll someday also be one of these “black belts”. Back then, black belts were more like some mythical creatures to me. But as our Grandmaster Son Jong-Ho once said: “A black belt is just a white belt who never stopped training”. Part of my childish fascination, came from these guys who could gather their Qi and shoot energy balls out of their hands. My favourite character of all times was and still is, Ryu from Street Fighter and his famous Hadouken. This guy just rocks! So I decided to make this homage to one of my childhood heros with a Street fighter styled pic.
When I came up with the idea, I thought it would be an easy shooting. Well, as it turned out, the light setup for this didn’t play out as easy as I first thought. I wanted this harsh, high contrasty look, coming from an front light and of course a small rim light to separate the subject from the background. The adjustment of the front light was a real precision job. If I (my subject) turned a little too far to the left, my front side would be totally dark and a little too far to the right, it would be totally blown out without any shadows and thus contrast. Damn my tiny soft box! This would’ve been so much easier with a bigger one. So in the end, the shooting took us more than twice the time as usually. Thank god Marie agreed to push the trigger. If I had to use the self timer, it would have taken even longer. The editing of this also was a lot of work. The energy ball alone took me like 5 hours and over 40 layer. Yes, I admit it. I’m a layer junky. I just need my weekly dose of layers. Of course you could reduce the layers, but I like to have the full control over every single piece of smoke over the whole editing process. I already made a concession and created the ball itself in a separate photoshop file (another 20 layers ;-)). I also did some excessive dodge and burn on this picture. When I first started my P52, I just hated D&B. It never turned out the way I wanted. But I did it nonetheless and by now, I think this is one of the most fun and most important steps to do. It’s always amazing if you start painting some light (or shadow) on your subject and don’t notice a big change until you switch off the layer for the first time.
For lighting, I used (as mentioned above) one gridded softbox as mainlight right in front of me. One softbox as rim light at 02:00. And one blue gelled bare strobe at 05:00 pretty close to me, to imitated the light of the energy orb.
So long – Florian