ISO 50 | 105mm | f 4.0 | 1/250 sec

Have you ever received a beautiful sweater as a gift only to discover that it was 2 sizes too big?  Or tried to wear a pair of new jeans you got as a present only to find that the legs only go to your knees?  While it’s sweet of people to be considerate in trying to help us fill the empty spaces in our wardrobes, I often find that it’s always wise to ask for the receipt, you’ll probably end up returning it (or investing in a new belt to keep your pants up).

I recently received such a gift from an old acquaintance of mine.  It was a bit of a surprise, considering it wasn’t my birthday, or a holiday for that matter, and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when the freight truck pulled up to my back door to unload my package.  After thanking the four burly fellows who helped haul the box into my living room, I set to the work of unpackaging my gift.

To my astonishment, inside the box lay the most gigantic fedora I had ever laid eyes on.  It was handsome to be sure, and made of fine quality material, but as a headpiece I was sure it would never do.  Just to be sure, I lifted one side of the hat (or at least attempted to lift it) and crawled inside.  It was spacious under the hat, almost cozy, but by now I was pretty certain that I wouldn’t be able to wear it during any of my morning outings.   As I crawled back out, I carefully contemplated my response to my friend’s gift.

It seemed a pity to have to return such a magnificent piece of artistry and human craftsmanship, and I was sure that the shipping fee just to send it back would be hurting my pockets for months to come.  Quandaries like this don’t come everyday, and I didn’t want to be rash in my decision.  At last, however, I came to a conclusion.  I quickly wrote my friend thanking him for the thoughtful gift, and assured him that it was just what I had always wanted.  Then, with the help of a few friends (and a rented back-hoe), I dug a ditch and installed my new swimming pool; the capacity was a bit more than 10 gallons.  😉

Wahoo!  Week 20 and still going strong!
I actually purchased this fedora a couple months ago with the intention of using it as a prop in some of my images.  This was the first time I’d used it (had to pull it out of the closet and shake the dust off), and I was very excited to be able to incorporate it into one of my images (I guess in this case I sort of made it the image).
The lighting was pretty simple, I just used one strobe with a diffused beauty dish on the right side of the hat and a silver reflector on the left side to bring in some fill.  Because of the close proximity of the key light to the subject,  I got some nice diffused light that wraps around my subject but also has some major falloff (thus the darkening towards the back of the scene, bringing more emphasis to the subject in the foreground).  I used the same lighting setup for all my shots (makes compositing way easier in post), and I just shot the different elements separately and merged them together in Photoshop.  You can see the different elements of this shot below:

I did have to adjust my camera angle for the shot of the arm to make it appear as though I was shooting down on it (getting perspectives right in a composite is key).  I also had to change my lens from my 70-200mm to my 17-40mm so that I could avoid DOF issues (I wanted all of my arm to be in focus).  That was basically how I did those shots.
The only other thing of note is the background which I created in post with a solid background color, some rendered clouds, a gradient filter, and some blending modes.
This was a really fun project for me.  Be on the lookout for more upcoming images!

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