The Collection (Severed Heads)

January 18, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

This is the start of a new series although the idea was conceived years ago from the same source as the series "Boxed". Watching the news while working in San Francisco, a man was showing off his collection of Barbie dolls in their original boxes. To me, as he gesticulate
 in front of the cameras describing the importance of various Barbies struck me as absurd. Of course, I had to take his collection to a darker place.

My initial concept was to replace the pirouetting doll collector with a thin, tall, scruffy white male in his late 40's. But the person I had in mind would not do it. Plus, replacing all the dolls in their original packaging with card board boxes and storage bins stacked behind the "collector" was not as easy as I thought, I did not have the skills necessary in Photoshop. So, for those initial images created became the series "Boxed". I left the concept of severed body parts for the future.

Over these past several years, I began collecting bell jars that would fit over human heads for when I felt ready to pursue the more grizzly series of body parts. The following image is the first.

Chad Volpe Severed HeadChad Volpe Severed Head© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com. The basis of this concept is the same source as my Boxed Series: A man showing off his collection of Barbie dolls in their original boxes. Of course, I had to take it to an even darker place than the boxed series.

For Chad as the first of the series, much was being worked out as we went. I wanted a pierce to hook the barbed wire into Chad's head, but the pierces wanted too much. So, the MUA Elizabeth Noriega tried various processes to get the wire to stay. We ended up using surgical tape and covering with putty and make up.

We shot 2 sets, the first with the copper barbed wire suspending Chad's head. The second was without wire but gave Chad a choice of multiple 100 year old pipes to use inside a different Bell Jar.

Chad Volpe is my first victim for this series. And he was very patient as the make-up artist Elizabeth Noriega and I worked out approaches to get the image as I envisioned. For the make-up, I wanted Chad to look "freshly dead" as he is part of a collection that needs to last and be displayed for others to enjoy. So, he was whitened first, followed by red to provide a splotchiness to the skin. Lastly, purple veins were drawn. With the make-up complete, we worked out the attachment of the copper barbed wire. I wanted a piercing to hook the barbed wire into Chad's head, but the piercers wanted too much money (Chad was ok with the piercings). So, Elizabeth  tried various processes to get the wire to stay. We ended up using surgical tape and covering with putty and make up.

I knew that to get his head to appear suspended in the glass, I would need to composite the image. The initial shot was with the glass void of Chad's head:

Chad's Severed Head blog imagesChad's Severed Head blog images© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com.

These images are for my blog entry as to how I created the severed head

Next, was the photo of Chad outside of the bell so that I could capture his chin and neck. I knew that his shoulders would prevent his head from rising high into the jar. The dotted line represents the copy and paste of that area into the final composite. Chad's Severed Head blog imagesChad's Severed Head blog images© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com.

These images are for my blog entry as to how I created the severed head

Finally, we ran the wires through the hole in the top of the jar. I set up the lighting: All DynaLite strobes, one on the floor behind Chad and 2 strip light soft boxes at 90 degrees to his head and the camera axis. The 2 strip lights were also narrowed creating a funnel from the lights to the glass leaving about a 1 1/2 inch opening at the glass. The in-camera image created follows: Chad's Severed Head blog imagesChad's Severed Head blog images© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com.

These images are for my blog entry as to how I created the severed head

Lastly, in Photoshop all the pieces were assembled.

1) From the the original image with Chad under glass, I selected his head and the wire you can see attached to his temple. I then copied to its own layer, raised the head in the jar and then used "Puppet warp" to bend only the wire toward the hole in the jar.

2) Chad's head was then masked out of the original image.

3) The image of the empty jar was added to fill in where Chad's head used to reside in the original image.

4) Pasted in his chin and neck from his portrait outside of the glass. I made this layer a smart layer to manipulate the coloring and shadows to match the image of his head in the jar. I also used "Puppet warp" to have is neck hang straight down as his muscles were now separated from his shoulders. I also created a duplicate layer and turned it reddish purple, set it in the back and dragged it down a touch to get a red edge along the cut of his neck.

5) Lastly, a touchup layer was added to clean up lint, spots, etc.

By the way, the coloring is from NIK software where I used "Bleach Bypass" setting.

Chad's Severed Head blog imagesChad's Severed Head blog images© Reidar Schopp, All Rights Reserved, www.RLSFoto.com.

These images are for my blog entry as to how I created the severed head

 

We shot 2 sets, the first with the copper barbed wire suspending Chad's head. The second was without wire but gave Chad a choice of multiple 100 year old pipes to use inside a different Bell Jar.


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