One of the biggest challenges society faces today is modern technology. It's a double-edged sword that if not handled properly, can quickly become a problem where human-to-human interaction digresses. Photographer Andreas Varro believes this is a problem that needs attention, and he sought out to bring awareness to this issue the best way he knows how.
The premise behind this stand-alone image project is a man that is lounging in a room during a vacation. On this vacation, he is soul-searching to find himself again. But to a fault of his own, he still is being sucked back into the digital world checking his messages and email. Even if he is setting himself out to avoid these distractions, he inevitably cannot avoid them. His expression shows panic and compulsion.
Like most of Varro's projects, a great amount of time, planning, production, and compositing go into it. He was kind enough to take everyone step-by-step through the process.
Some photographers take this step, some don't. With a well thought out project and idea like this, Varro created this sketch to visualize how he wanted this image to unravel.
After stringing together his connections, Varro managed to land a furniture studio as the location for his idea.
Since Varro is very particular with his method. While he mixes ambient and strobe lighting together, they are actually mixed at different exposures. He explained that ambient exposures were shot separately to avoid problems with the change in temperature throughout the shoot. This allows Varro to have consistent light, shadows, and color temperatures throughout the photo.
Varro used one large key light and a secondary rim light to mimic the light coming from the windows to edge the model. He also used a white reflector behind the model to make it easier to extract his hair as well as fill out shadows.
After sourcing models for both the main character and arms via Facebook, the production was full steam ahead.
Varro wanted the model's expression to show panic and overwhelmed to portray the essence of the image. The main character needed his arms and legs still to prepare for postproduction. When blending exposures, staying still will make everything easier with alignment.
After the main character image was complete, 10 to 20 exposures were shot in different areas around the main character. The multitude of exposures gave Varro options when composing.
For background and props, Varro shot separate exposures with both strobes and ambient light.
Having different exposures shot at different f-stops, I get to know that if something changes on the way and I want to make the room interior much lighter for some reason, I know I can do that without destroying pixels. If I want to remove furniture, I can do it without having to clone it away.
After raw conversion and placing different images together in Photoshop, Varro placed the images as Smart Objects so he could go back if he had to tweak the raw file's exposure, white balance, sharpness, etc., and avoid destroying pixels.
He then moved around images and aligned them until he was satisfied. Layer masks were created for each individual image which included windows, ceiling, chairs, tables, hands, phones, and the character.
The next step is dodging and burning. The most important part of this step is to cast shadows on each other to make the image look natural as possible because they didn't cast shadows in the first place. On top of that, he processed the standard global dodge and burning most photographers are accustomed to.
After the dodge and burning step was complete, Varro cut out the original background and sourced an image of a Swedish landscape. He retouched the image to blend well with the interior, details like the lamps' highlights were retouched to show light coming in from the windows, as you can see.
Production time totaled around 30-40 hours with 15 hours spent retouching. The time span from idea to final product was six months and the final PSD size was 12.56 GB.
All images used with permission of Andreas Varro.