Ghost In The Living Room

I turn my entertainment furniture into a skyscraper

 

Most of you probably get that excited feeling when you're waiting for a new figure to arrive in the post.

For me, I'm more excited about how I'm going to shoot it than having the actual product.

In anticipation of the Figma Ghost In The Shell Kusanagi Motoko arriving, I started to think about how to shoot it ...

There was one idea I couldn't get out of my head, no matter how hard I tried:

Futuristic.

I love the original GIST movie and Stand Alone Complex, so I wanted to try and reflect the neon-washed tones of the city in this shoot.

... but I don't have a neon skyscraper laying around.

Then it occured to me that I DO have something that looks like a neon skyscraper -

This is the glass paneling of an IKEA TV unit I have in my living room.

When I built this thing I got carried away and installed the LED lighting strips IKEA sell with the system. These are variable color LED's, which means I can cook up almost any look I like with them.

Oh the possibilities ....

Lighting and Composition

My FAVORITE shoots are ones that get completely out of control and let your imagination take you to places you don't think are possible.

The scale of this paneling in comparison to the figure means I can get some pretty interesting stuff going on.

I really wanted to frame this from above, with her looking down over street lights, but the framing was too difficult.

Then I thought about taking advantage of the opposite angle - down below - to show her standing on the corner of a ledge (the media cabinet) with the glass panelling behind her reaching up into the sky.

I got the figure posed, mounted my camera on a small gorilla pod tripod to get it close to the floor, then framed the shot.

With the framing of the figure and paneling set, I then went about lighting the scene.

Obviously I'm using the LED backlighting in the glass so that's taken care of, then I used my F&V R300 as a key light on the left:

A white reflector board provided fill on the right:

Next I set about creating some lighting effects, reflected in the glass.

For this I hung fairy lights above the TV cabinet (see above), which are out of focus in the reflection so create some great bokeh which you can see in the final shot at the bottom of this article.

Lastly I tried playing around with some lens flare using a blue LED light, and taped some fishing wire over the lens to try and capture some fake-anamorphic lens flare streaks.

In the end I couldn't get any streaks without wrecking the shot, so I settled for some nice blue flare and that completed the lighting setup.

Shoot

As I do on most of my shoots, I build the lighting in camera, and take test shots until I dial in the light to a point I'm happy with.

Once the lighting is locked in, I capture the shot or in a lot of cases, capture multiple images for a focus stack.

With this shot I took some shots of different parts of her upper body for a focus stack, leaving her legs out of focus deliberately.

Here's a quick video breakdown of the shoot, try not to laugh too hard at the set collapsing half way through:

Retouching

I didn't do anything out the ordinary in post - my normal treatments in Lightoom, then color grading, dodge and burn and vignetting.

Because the fairy lights were flicking on and off on a timer, I got different colored bokeh on different shots, so I composited some of these shots together to get more of it in shot.

To finish off, I pushed the flare coloring up a notch to accentuate it.

Here's a quick overview of the photoshop treatments on this image:

That's it. I'm real happy with this shot!

 

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I turn my entertainment furniture into a skyscraper