Creating the Photograph: Lárus Sigurðarson’s “Blue”

20130318_0008 Creating the Photograph is an original series where we interview photographers about a photo that they shot and how it was achieved. The results are some knowledge passed on to you. Want to be featured? Email chrisgampat[at]thephoblographer[dot]com. Lárus Sigurðarson is a photographer based in Iceland–and whose work that we absolutely fell in love with upon finding this image on his 500px page. He is a commercial, wedding, editorial, landscape and portrait photographer whose work is mesmerizing due to the ideas and scenes that he creates. Not only does he have excellent ideas, he is also a master of lighting and knows how to get the image that he has in his head based on his original concept. We asked Mr. Sigurdarson about his image above, called “Blue.” Here’s his story.

The Concept

LightingSetup The concept was simple really, I had the day off and wanted to do something cool! I am a full time professional photographer who mostly photographs people and occasionally I like to do things just for myself. I know a photographer whose name is Skarphéðinn Þráinsson, he is both a landscape photographer and a photo guide, and right now he’s probably up near the volcanic eruption that is going on in the Icelandic highlands. I have always admired his landscape and especially his ice cave photos, simply breathtaking and I thought it’d be pretty cool to take a model with me to one of them and do a photoshoot there, with some profoto lights that I use for my work. I knew this was going to be cold so I needed a pretty tough model, wich most Icelandic models are, but also someone I had photographed a bit before and knew was fun, we’d be spending most of the day in the Skarpi’s jeep. Valdís was a perfect choice as I thought her blonde hair and blue eyes would match the surroundings perfectly. We discussed a couple of options regarding clothing and since this was done in march 2013, up in the highlands, literally inside a glacier, Valdís and I decided to go with outdoor clothing, instead of for example big dresses, which would probably been fine for her, she’s a trooper but still, didn’t want to risk getting her sick. All of us were doing this just for the fun of it. I contacted Zo On who lent us some clothes for this photoshoot. I knew I was going to need some help with gear as I brought some lights with me so my friend and frequent assistant came along for the day.

The Gear

– Canon 5D III – Canon 16-35mm f2.8 L lens – Profoto AcuteB2 600 airS with a AcuteB head with a disc reflector and a Profoto Pro-B3 1200 airS with a Pro-B head with a 90×120 Profoto Rfi softbox

The Shoot

behind the scenes 1 I used several lenses for that photoshoot but for that particular photo I wanted a very wide lens shot from a very low angle, I actually shot this photo “blind”, or not looking through the viewfinder and trusted the autofocus of the camera to get the focus right, I do this regularly so I got a good sense for what the framing will be like and I wanted the camera to be as low as possible to put a bigger emphasis on the ceiling of the cave. I couldn’t lie flat on my stomach as there was a stream of water underneath me and Jón actually got a photo taken about the same time of me and Skarpi taking photos of Valdís. behind the scenes 3 I thought the cave itself was kind of dark and thought it would be cool if there was some light coming from behind so we put the AcuteB2 light inside the cave and pointed it upwards, “bouncing” it off the ceiling of the ice cave. It is situated directly behind Valdís and without it the image would have been way too flat for my taste. behind the scenes 4 The Pro-B3 then powered the softbox which is the main light on Valdís and the rest is ambient light coming in from the cave opening behind me. If anybody wants to see more photos from this day you can find some here and if anybody wants to try something like this, contact Skarpi, don’t try to do this on your own as you need a guide, these caves can be VERY dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.

Post-Production

One of the first images shot

One of the first images shot

The post production was pretty minimal, I only keep the original raw files around for about half a year after personal photo shoots so they are unfortunately gone, so I have no “before” photo but Jón took one pretty much over my shoulder so you at least get a hint of what it looked like unprocessed. I run all my raw files through Capture One and there I set the white balance to a pretty cool setting, probably around 4500-5000k, boosted up the contrast and the colours a bit and I remember the photo was a bit tilted so I had to correct for that, probably about 1-2° and crop minimally but otherwise it’s pretty much straight out of the camera, with one exception, I remember the ice was such a pale blue I wanted a stronger blue colour, so I adjusted the colour of the ice with a hue sat layer where I masked her out so that blue cast didn’t affect her at all.

After

Final image