Creative Portraits Using a Plastic Dust Sheet

Creating unique portrait shots doesn’t require fancy gear or even a lot of technical know-how. Photographer Gavin Hoey demonstrates how even the humblest of props can transform a mundane shot into an original work of art:

For those interested in shooting creative portraiture on a small budget, it’s always a relief to find that that it doesn’t take much to create amazing effects. Just about any prop that plays with light will do, including a cheap two-dollar dust sheet. Many of the shots Hoey takes simply use a key light, a plain background, a model, and of course, the dust sheet. The more complicated shots had either a wind machine or an assistant helping, a frame made of light stands, and a background light. That’s it. Simple, easy, and fun (as long as you don’t suffocate your model).

Using a wind machine and a dust sheet

If you want to get even more creative, you can add some colored gels to the shoot and/or make-up to your model. The stretched out plastic effect seems a perfect opportunity for a Halloween or horror-genre portrait. With a longer shutter speed and a stationary model you could add to the ghosting effects, too.

Using Analog Efex for the post processing

Of course, even the best out-of-camera images can benefit from a little post-processing–especially when you’re shooting for an artistic effect. Here Hoey uses the Nik Tool Suite’s Analog Efex Pro. Normally used to give an analog look and feel to digital shots, it can also be used to great effect for motion blur and other “effect” adjustments. (If you haven’t yet tried the Nik Tool Suite, you’re missing out on some amazing tools—and it’s free!)

The wind machine effect

In the photo above it almost looks like she has wings–all from a cheap dust sheet and a wind machine.

What cheap props have you found to spice up your portraiture?

For further training: The Art of Portrait Photography

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