The Making of Space Awaits!
Personal projects an important part of the process for any creative who wants to stay fresh and not get bored with their work.
The project “Space Awaits!”is a personal photo shoot by photographer Kristina Varaksina. Inspired by “retro futurism as a fashion style and the era of human excitement about space travel,” Kristina’s idea centered around two young astronauts. “The story is about two kids sneaking out of their house before everyone is awake, probably to try out the lunar lander parked in their backyard.“
Kristina began with a sketch to find the best composition to fit the house, the children and the moon lander into one aesthetically pleasing frame. After finding an almost perfect location and two cute models, Kristina was set to shoot. The house’s size and windows didn’t quite fit in with the vision she wanted and so Kristina photographed the children separately and composited the images in Photoshop. It took 71 shots to get the image she wanted of the boy astronaut and over 400 images of the girl. The girl astronaut was challenging due to numerous hairstyle changes and trying to get the right expression. There was also an issue with the fog machine – ah, the glamorous life of photography.
For lighting, Kristina decided on using LEDs because of the unpredictability of the weather in San Francisco. The lighting set up followed the idea that the story was happening early in the morning. Kristina explains her set up:
It’s very convenient to work with LED lights because they don’t overpower the ambient light, which I wanted to keep in the shot. Thus, we put 1 stop CTO Gels on the lights that were on the left side of the subjects and above their heads to create a warm light effect, because the actual sunlight, if it wasn’t so diffused by the fog, would be coming from that direction. I used another LED in front of the kids 1/2 stop lower than the other two lights, just to give their faces a little more light, since they were mostly backlit by the ambient and the LED lights. My camera settings were ISO:200, 1/80s, f/6.3, 27mm.
The Post Processing
Using CaptureOne Pro, Kristina processed the RAW files to work on giving the colors a nice warm 1960’s tone. At the same time, the 3D design team got 360 degree location images and began working on the reflections of the moon lander.
In Photoshop, Kristina began compositing by covering one of the windows in the house to aid in getting the background she wanted. Using a high-low frequency technique, she retouched the children and their hair and clothes, fixing some skin tones and highlights. The helmets were old so it took some time to touch up and then it was onto the 3D model of the moon lander.
Tweaking some colors, adding some light, reflections and shadows, Kristina also made the lander look slightly out of focus so that the attention was drawn to the kids. Final touches included some “sunlight in the air, layers in the screen mode to add more space, dimension and separate the background object from the foreground.” A few more clouds for dimension and changing the sky color to make it “look as close to the original as possible to avoid the effect of fake sky” and applied a 0/5 blur to the entire background.
And again, the final image:
To see more of Kristina Varaksina’s work, check out her website here.