MAD about you
March 27, 2013
©Chris Hunt Photography 2013 Story goes, Billy’s mother died giving birth to his older brother. That’s what I heard anyway. As a child I was influenced by a few things: MAD Magazine with Mort Druker’s and Jack Davis’s spot on caricatures, National Lampoon, B rated horror flicks on TV, Matt Helm movies and Wacky Packages collector cards featuring the amazing early art of none other than Art Spiegelman. Not that other things didn’t play in now and then, but a 9 year old has his passions. Skateboarding, bike, motorcycles, art and girls came later. I created this image, like many other from a conglomeration of stuck memories and bad southern stereotypes (yes I know the cap is BLUE). To tell truth I was actually testing out my new beauty dish and background. This guy just kind of surfaced from the ashes of memory and bizarre fantasy. My good friend Peggy said it looked like a MAD Magazine cover when she saw it. That and the fact that she loved it and hated it all the same. I say, well said Peggy! Now the boring techy bits if you’ve gotten this far. The image was shot on a Nikon D7000 and employed three Nikon SB-800 speedlights controlled by my ever so useful camera mounted SU-800 wireless commander module, which allows me to control the mode and output power of all my lights. Did I say I love this thing! Camera right is my Cowboy Studio beauty dish, which I’ve spent considerable time modifying from it’s original mount to a more robust mount using a lot of sheet metal screws and Wescott speedrings to beef it all up with. Camera left, instead of my usual reflector, I used a large Wescott white umbrella to bounce a flash off. Background was another SB unit with (originally) a red gel but I changed the whole color to blue due to the fact the red was competing with my face, suspenders in addition to the fact it looked like salmon in the photo anyway. The original image was part of a lighting test, like many of my “projects” start out. Honestly I get tired of the same guy showing up in my photos, so I create these characters from time to time to spice things up. Oh, and the fact that while exploring a local costume shop, one of the owners identified me as a “natural born costumer” after she admired my pseudo authentic Gulf Oil jacket I created and ‘aged’ in the backyard a month. It’s a sickness and one I come by naturally, but I can’t deny I must actually be a “costumer” and I’m still trying to figure out if that’s a malady or a profession. I imported the image, which was way too dark in the first place, into Photoshop and had to do some digital calisthenics right off the bat to get it close to viewable. As this was part of a real lighting test, but an image I liked, I wasn’t willing to let it go to the digital garbage heap just yet. I wanted to see what I could do with it. I ended up racking the Shadows/Highlights slider on PS all the way to the right which created the first illustrated look to it. I then imported the image into Photomatix Pro HDR software to do some harsh tone mapping to it. It then was re-imported to Photoshop for further Smart sharpening, color wrangling and background color changing. I added the dirt on the shirt, sweat and whiskey stains and deepened the wrinkles cracks and crevasses on my face for a more haggard look. Finally after showing it to one of my #1 critics and supporters, Peggy and getting her honest and candid comments on the “MAD” look of it and said it was theatrical. I’d also like to point out that Peggy is an excellent longtime photography teacher and I respect her opinion immensely. Peggy is one of the few people who could look at this image and see it subjectively enough to know the technical backflips one would need to achieve to create such a thing and not come down on me, or try and over analyze some judgmental underlying pity or derision for the creator. Regarding the type style. I actually was able to find and download the font MAD uses for their covers for the parody. The type style can be imported into Photoshop easily. For you illustration, Photoshop and retouching fans, please see this page for a before/after of this shot.