Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I've been thinking about this concept for nearly a year - a wraith, or dangerous ghost, who is lost and frightened and on the verge of panic in a directionless, undefined space.  It sounds simple, but I had a lot of things that I wanted just right.  Here's what we did:

1. Wardrobe - had to have a "flowy," ghostly feel to it.  A 1950 vintage "ice blue" chiffon night gown from a vintage lingerie dealer on-line fit the bill.
2. A model with a light build who could pull off the look of a fragile but dangerous ghost with sadness, fright, and near panic. I found a local model on Model Mayhem who had the light build.  Nothing similar in her portfolio, but we set up a meeting to talk over the project, and was convinced she could pull it off.
3. Makeup - pale powder, blue lips and eye shadow were essential for a ghostly, dead look. I ordered some makeup but it didn't come in time.  Courtney (the model) had some blue eye shadow to use on her eyes and lips, and we used baby powder on her face, neck, and shoulders.  We added some mascara and made tears with sterile eyedrops to get it to run. 
4. Lighting (see diagram below) - I wanted a cold, lifeless look for the model without turning the whole scene blue, and I wanted to keep the light as soft as possible.  One of the basic principals of lighting is the bigger the light relative to the subject, the softer the light will be. I hung twelve sheer curtains from the ceiling (6 on each side) and placed strobes with octaboxes outside them to effectively make an 8'x9' light on each side of the set.  I also lit white background paper evenly to make an 8'x9' reflector behind the model, so she was surrounded in a soft white light.  I added reflectors up front to kill shadows on the floor, and I added a blue gel on a high boom up front, bright enough to tint the model, but not to overpower the soft white light around her.  I used a fairly wide aperture to give a softness to the focus, and she was moving fast in many of the images which also helped.

 5. Post processing - the blue tint was not as strong as I wanted, so I boosted the contrast to enhance it.  I had to clean up blue spill on the floor and some shadows under her feet. That's about all that was necessary.

Here are some of the results.  Click to enlarge, and enjoy.


  1. Third from the last is my favorite shot... she looks like a spirit being drawn back into the grave...


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