PAINTING THE TOWN RED

By Catherine MacBride

Camera: Nikon D5200

Lens: NIKKOR AF-S 50mm f/1.4G

Software: Adobe Photoshop CS5

I HAVE TO SAY that the challenge of coming up with some quirky and interesting ways of using paint for Creative Eye really got my imagination buzzing! The theme of paint gave me so many options. I could throw it.drip it, splash it, smudge it… The options were endless But what became apparent very early on was that whatever idea I came up with, I’dbe the one doing the cleaning up afterwards.

After a little time spent wading through various ideas, I remembered the saying ‘painting the town red’. It’s such a graphic phrase so I thought I should come up with an image that would bring it to life. My first plan was to make a little paper town and drip red paint on it, but I quickly realised that I wanted something that would be far more obvious to anyone viewing it. Something that people would know straight away was indeed painting the town red. I decided to make my town from the word ‘town’ and have a few little model miniatures painting it red.

The first item опту to-do list was to make my3D letters. To start, I chose a fairly square font in Photoshop, one that would stand-up by itself easily, and printed each letter out as my template. I chose a font size that would work with the scale of my little miniature workmen. I then made them 3D by adding sides to the letters.although I didn’t bother with backs of the letters since theywouldn’t be seen in the final image.

When I had the letters finished and checked that they all stood up, I set about painting them. I decided to do a tester of the paints I was going to use on a patch of similar card, just to check out how it reacted. The first paint I chose was red poster paint, but when it dried its high water content caused the paper to buckle, so my next attempt was with red water-based oil paint, which worked a treat! I painted the bases of all four letters, stopping at various increments so that it looked like a work in progress. When the paint was dry I set them upon my white backdrop, adding my miniature models to the shot. It was easy to see that it was lacking so I went about making some paper accessories to accompany the letters. I cut out an aerial, a ladder, paper trees, a washing line filled with red paper washing and added a paper cloud on invisible string to the sky.

Next, it was time to shoot my set-up. I fitted a NIKKOR AF-S 50mm f/1.4 lens to my Nikon D5200 and fixed it on a tripod, tweaking the composition in the viewfinder until I was happy. My camera was set to manual mode at ISO 100, and I selected an aperture off/16 for good depth-of-field and dialled in a shutter speed of l/16sec. I set up a flashgun to the left-hand side, and used a shoot-through umbrella to diffuse the light, triggering the flash using generic wireless transceivers. I took a test shot and adjusted the flash power to suit, until I was happy with the exposure.

When my shot was taken, I checked the histogram on the LCD monitor, using the highlight clipping warning to make sure that none of my highlights were lost. Blown highlights are a regular occurrence when shooting white on white, so after making sure everything was perfectly exposed I was done! Post-processing was minimal as the shot was almost perfect straight off camera, I cleaned up some stray paint and glue spills with the Healing Tool and warmed the White Balance a little. After finishing ‘painting the town red’ it was definitely time to put my feet up.

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