Let’s face it, the X100T is incredibly sexy. But the things she lets me see through her, that is, how easily the camera lets my imagination run unrestrained, well, that’s why I’m so seriously in love with her. My X100T is a tool under total services of my imagination.
Of course, I have other tools too. The most important ones being my laptop, the graphic tablet, softwares like Photoshop CC, Lightroom, Cinema4D, and a few others. Then there are the flashes, the green screen, and finally the models. Let’s try to see how I sometimes mix them when while developing an idea. And how the X100T goes along.
A few months ago I was about to take my car from the parking lot, when I noticed a particularly soft and beautiful light falling from an opening on the roof. I framed it, and shot it. The X100T had the teleconverter on it, and the shot has been taken with: ISO640, 1/60, f/4.
The light was perfect, the place dull. The more I looked at it on my computer screen, the more I felt the need for “space”. I applied the “3D postcard” tool and replicated the object, while pushing it back within a 3D environment, until a tunnel was born. I wasn’t sure yet about what I wanted to happen there, but the scenery was the one I imagined. I went along with my life.
A few weeks later I was in the Netherlands, visiting fields over fields of tulips and grass. Suddenly I was back in the underground tunnel, and I saw these fields existing there too. The X100T and the teleconverter were with me, I set the camera with the same parameters of the first shot, I centred the horizon (as it was in the first image) and took the photo.
My idea was that the grass would grow where the concrete had been eroded. Adding the “field layer” wasn’t enough, I needed to trick the eye into “seeing” the erosion. To do this, I created the perception of deepness by adding a concrete layer going from the pavement to the grass field. I had to do it on several places, and I had to add some shadows too to increase the “hole-effect”.
Since the sewer and its cover would have been built in metal and stronger concrete, I imagined they would survive the erosion. So I left the central sewer cover (and added some concrete under it too). Also, whatever had eroded the concrete wasn’t dangerous for life, otherwise the grass would have not grown there. I imagined some “weird mist” sprouting from the sewer to be the reason for life and concrete erosion. I drew the mist myself, and added a yellowish/greenish light to it. To make the this light “reflecting” around, I used the camera-raw plugin in Photoshop CC to alter the white balance of only the first “block” of the tunnel, leaving a colder look in the later blocks have a colder look.
In the following days I asked myself “what would live in such a place, and underground field, in a concrete hole, surrounded by a weird mist that seems to breed life?”. The answer was quite straightforward: insects would definitely live there. Among the many options, I decided butterflies were a good fit, so I looked for a “free butterfly template”, opened it with Cinema4D, and started tuning it to get to “my butterfly”. I applied a few changes, especially in how the insects would behave in the air, I applied an illumination that would match the scene, and let the butterfly go. When I liked the pattern, I froze them and imported them in Photoshop, where thanks to the use of the alpha-channel it was super quick and easy to mask the butterflies. Wherever I would put a butterfly on the ground, I would drew its shadow. The rest of them, I just let them fly.
At this point I thought “what a lovely corner, I bet sensible and romantic girls would enjoy visiting it”. And as quick as the idea came along, I wanted a girl in the scene. The problem was, in the real world summer had arrived and the light in the underground parking was now terribly different! I needed to test how a girl would have looked in the scene, before looking for any other solutions. I used Photo Light Pro, a software designed for testing lighting schemes in a virtual studio on a multitude of virtual models. I opted for a virtual girls sitting in a romantic pose, placed the light accordingly to the scene, added an extra light to even the green screen, and took the very same shot I would have taken in my studio. And as such, I imported it in Photoshop CC and used the “selective colour” masking to remove the green screen while keeping the girl.
I loved it. That was it. I could have almost stayed with the virtual girl if it wasn’t for the awful max-resolution of 1024×768 and the lack of textures of the virtual model. Instead, I called a beautiful model I had the pleasure to work before, Francesca Polverini, which I knew looked quite close to the virtual model, and went for “the real thing”. On a real studio. Under real lights. The X100T, set as the previous shots, with the teleconverter, a tripod, and a flash trigger, proved to be up to the task, cause it let me get exactly what I was looking for.
I find the final image to be the romantic/dystopic/dream-like scene that had been forming in my mind, or that I had been chasing in my memories, for the last couple of months. There’s this girl, we don’t know who she is or why she’s there, but her posture tells us she enjoys the place and its quietness. She doesn’t feel in danger, nor she seems to feel the oddity of the place. Which might mean she knows it, that she’s already been there. In a dream, in her life, I don’t know, but I like her and feel somehow connected. And, mostly, I really love how the X100T helped me getting to this place to finally meet her.