Art Nude: Banbury Cross

Oct 16, 2013

Hello you! Are you having a wonderful week? Its been a fantastic couple of days shooting, editing and gearing up for the festive season ahead. It looks like we’re building up for another crazy busy festive season, but I’ve managed to find a little time to myself to curl up in my studio chair and write about my latest series of images, featuring the bulletproof blonde herself, burlesque performer Banbury Cross.

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Banbury Cross has been a regular face in my studio over the years, from way back in 2010 to our first shoot for Proud Cabaret, an exclusive editorial for Vintage Life magazine and plenty of live events in Europe where we’ve bumped into each other at festivals. Its always a pleasure working with Banbury, so when I found out I had some spare time on a recent shooting day, I invited her down to work on a new series of art nude images.

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With both of us in the midst of moving house, we were quite limited on access to costumes and styling for the day, so the idea was to take the headdresses of two acts and create a series of art nude portraits with them. The first headdress was from her Madonna act (which will appear in a second blog post later this week) and the second is this brilliant floral piece complete with antlers and a long, blond three-quarter wig that blended in with Banbury’s own hair.

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Shooting on a black colorama with a canon 5D MKii and a 70-200 f2.8L lens, I opted for a one Elinchrom Quadra A head set up with a 70 deep Octa set to the left of camera to light Banbury, offering a soft light on the skin with equally soft graduating shadows. A mirror on the other side of the set bounced back some of the light, highlighting the back of the hair. In hindsight, I wish I’d thought about modifying the light a bit more with some lace do create a dappled woodland light effect, but perhaps I can save that for next time!

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We had agreed in advance that this art nude series was to be in black and white, so I shot in Monochrome mode and then played around with the tone curves in Lightroom before importing into Photoshop for some minor retouching, removing the odd blemish and experimenting with the Iris Blur feature in Photoshop (available in CS6 or higher) which allowed me to soften the sharpness of the image and build up an ethereal mood.

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I had also been watching Sue Bryce and Lara Jade’s Experimental Portraiture workshop on Creative Live at the time, so was inspired to break up the black background by adding texture to my image. This is something I used to do in my compositing days and had built up 5 years worth of textures ranging from glass and bokeh to ink splatters and marbled paper, but has featured a lot less in the past year or so as a photography tool. Using layer blending modes, I applied a soft metallic marble texture to the images. Its hardly visible, but breaks up the monotony of black background and gives a soft canvas texture to the skin as if it were painted.

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I’d love to hear feedback on these, so please feel free to comment below, email me or simply just share this post on your social media sites! The studio is getting busy in the run up to Christmas, but I still have a couple more spaces left for anyone wanting to book last minute. Please get in touch for prices and availability.

1 Comment

  1. Matthew Hodges

    Just beautiful. I love the texture you added, it goes great with the shallow depth of field. Textures seems to be a bit distracting when everything is in focus, I really like your method and work on this.


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