Brian Dukes Photography

The image begins long before and ends long after the shutter is pressed.
© Brian Dukes

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The Ghost In The Machine

You may have realised something about me and my blogs by now, that I like to have a title that coins a phrase for the overall feel of the blog. This blog is no different in that respect, the 'ghost' in this case is colour calibration.

I'll get on to the 'ghostly' bit in a moment, but first to talk about the image in question - this has been a really tough image for me to complete this year. The initial photography was taken back in March, but sadly due to life taking over, pressures in my day job, my father's illness, and finally him passing away, sadly my work on personal projects took a back seat.

It was very clear in my mind from the outset what I wanted to do, and how I would achieve it; the goal was to reproduce (or re-interpret) a movie poster of the film Poltergeist - Click Here To View The Image

Photography wise, I recruited a friends young daughter, Maddison Jones - I setup a large Elinchrom Octa low down and just infront of Maddison,  this was to capture light as it would be coming from the TV,  I put a black screen behind Maddison.

It would be August before I was able to get to work any further on this image, the next stage was some further photography,  to photograph a TV,  and also to some how create the ghostly images on the TV screen

So for the ghostly figures and hands, the approach I took was very simple,  I setup my large Elinchrom Octa and Elinchrom D-Lite One RX,  and got my girlfriend Natalie to stand inside the softbox, with her face and hands pressed up against the diffusion panel - simple eh?

So with a bit of compositing within Photoshop I managed to get a collection of ghostly hands/faces together .. next step to get this into the TV.

With best intentions it was then another month (and a bit) before I had chance to work on the image again.  Next task to bring Maddison and the TV together, to then add some atmosphere and ensure the scene works as a whole.  Colour toning across the whole image, with the mystical smoke was really the answer here (which the original image used too).

Before I show off the very final image, I haven't forgotten about 'The Ghost In The Machine' - or entitled a different way 'Brian being too keen to get an image out without finally checking'.    When I uploaded the image to social media sites,  I quickly realised the overall blue-hue on the image was horrid, it was a bit too cyan, it seemed to loose some definition, but more importantly, it didn't look like it should have .. and not how I recalled it on my screen!

The left image wasn't the colour I was aiming for, the right image is what I was after - So what was the problem, what happened?  It was the Ghost In The Machine - what I uploaded looked nothing like the finished edit.   I think, in the export I had exported with a conversion to sRGB, but also between working on my Macbook Pro, I'd switched to my Windows PC and back (I share a calibrated monitor between the two computers), but the calibration had got messed up - so when I thought i'd exported correctly, in fact, the export was ghastly .. but I didn't see this because the calibration mess up.  Sadly I noticed this after uploading and allowing the world to see.  Only I knew it wasn't right :(

To correct it, I reworked the way in which I coloured the image entirely, as I had noticed I had also got some odd blue shading too.  So I took away the colour layers, and reworked, and as you might expect the final solution actually simplified what I had there before too.

Now i'm happy - kicking myself slightly, because I know the importance of taking time to release things, don't rush - what do they say about Old Dogs and New Tricks?

So there has surely been alot of pain suffered during the creation of this image, and a final bite in the tail; but I'm so glad I persevered, I'm very happy with the final image,  now to get it printed!!

A huge thanks to Nicky, Gordon and Maddison Jones :)    - see you soon!

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