This was an image I had in my head for quite a long time. Sitting in the back of my mind like a nagging toddler along with doubts about how to take the images, how to composite them together and whether I was good or creative enough to pull it off. These doubts can often creep in if I let them, like many things, when fears are faced, they recede and are reduced to their correct size.
The umbrella procured from a lost and found a few weeks earlier, large and with a perfect tulip shape turned inside out. Of course then there were no storms...sigh. It was going to be someone else making the leap of faith. In the end a storm blew through right before sunset one evening when Bobbi was away speaking and watching the lightning recede it became a selfie.
It was taken as three shots, one of me leaping off a 2' wall - a soft box to camera left and the camera triggered from a remote in my right hand. Even so I will not admit to how many shots it took to get the right one...nor the near twisted ankles and aching knees from all the landings. The second shot was of the umbrella duct taped to a light stand, camera adjusted to the right ankle that matched my chosen leaping lord shot, filled with BBQ fluid and "let 'er rip". I will say the resulting fireball was really quite impressive
1. I must have looked quite the chicken leaning delicately forward with a long BBQ lighter and my leaping backward like a guilty schoolboy caught in the cookie jar a couple of times before it took.
2. There was a fire extinguisher in my other hand :-)
The final shot was some low level clouds facing the opposite direction to place and fill at the bottom of the image to replace the distant trees and rooftops in the leaping shot.
Compositing was fairly straightforward - with the exception that I made things more difficult by shooting myself with the umbrella, so I had to first remove that before adding the flaming umbrella, which was loosely selected, pasted on top and using color/levels and curves matched to the base image. Some free transform and warp dropped it in place and then out came the eraser and clone tools. Final color grading and a push through Alien Skin's Exposure set to a vintage Kodachrome gave the feel I was looking for.
As working a working photographer it is very easy to get caught in an endless round of pursuing work and shooting for others. In some ways I think that can become limiting as the tendency is being asked to shoot what people know you do, by cutting loose and going out to create something just for me, no client, no budget comes an enormous amount of satisfaction which also creates an awareness in potential clients of what can be done. Certainly the case with this one, as a result a shoot was scheduled with a creative agency that while it did not involve fire involved composting together an ad image from half a dozen images we took in one shoot - I would not have been hired for that job, and they would not have submitted the idea to their client in the first place.
A good reminder that I need to do shoots for myself, and to never stop (over)stepping my boundaries.