Action Hero Series: The Superhero

Our hero examines the scars of past fights as the call for help looms behind him. Recreated from the paintings of artist Alex Ross.

Our hero examines the scars of past fights as the call for help looms behind him. Recreated from the paintings of artist Alex Ross.

I have been a Batman fan my whole life. The first comic I ever owned was a Batman comic (still remember the cover). In fact I was a Batman fan before being a Batman fan was cool. So there was no way I could do a series of action hero images without including Batman. There wasn’t even a question of how I would do it. Several years ago I seen a painting by artist Alex Ross which showed Batman looking at the scars from past fights as the cowl hung in the back ground. It was that painting that this image is made in tribute to.

Months earlier I had seen a picture of Steffen’s back and knew he was perfect for it. In fact it was the idea of doing this tribute image that ended up expanding into this series. The first task was to find a location. I did not want a studio or to composite in a location so I had to find something that looked the part of the Batcave or the old Wayne Manor. After looking at several locations I decided to use the outside wall of a local costume and novelty store.

I decided for my version of Ross’s painting I would have Batman lit by light coming from the Bat Signal as it came through a window or something and hit the wall behind him. In studio I probably would have created this in camera using a bat shaped object to create the shadow (a gobo for you photography term fanatics). But shooting on location with limited time and lots of ambient I decided it would be easier and faster to add the symbol in post. To set this up I placed a light in the general direction I wanted it with a grid to create the basses of my spot light on the wall.

For my Batman I placed a second light in a softbox boomed slight over higher than him from the same location as my spot light. I adjusted my position slightly lower than my subject so you would look up at him making him seem larger and more imposing. The cowl in the background was purchased offline weeks earlier and the cape was made of scrapes of fabric. However when I built the makeshift stand to hold everything it turned into a major fail. So I photographed the cowl and recreated the cape in post. Which is why I emphasize the importance of being versatile in creating in camera and creating in post. You never know which tools you will need to complete your vision.

In addition to recreating the cape in post I had to add scars to Steffen’s back. I did this using layers, but to make sure the scars looked natural on his back I had our make-up artist draw some scars as a guide for later. Finally since Batman only comes out at night I adjusted the color tone to a cooler blue hue to give it that night time feel.

This completes the second in a series of ten images. Tomorrow the third image will post and will feature the winner of the contest for a photo shoot with Steffen. Be sure to check back and see what doors they are kicking down.