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Ballerina du jour - part 1 of 1

by Dave Newman Published 01/10/2009

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No other generic subject classification approaches the classic and artistic treatment like the portraiture of ballerinas. These artists of dance study, train, and school themselves in the various faceted areas of fluid movement which can be easily transposed into creative, still portraiture. Most students of dance are adept at holding stationary poses and even suggest a multitude of other beautiful positions with which to work and create interesting and beautiful portrait creations.

Over the years of my formal lecturing and teaching the art of posing, I have often engaged my audience in viewing me working with a ballerina as a model. Several times I have even employed sisters or friends as ballerina group models, for a genuine challenge. My rare sessions with a ballerina in my studio always conclude with toe shoes, cast over the shoulders in a non-structured pensive, casual pose. The softness of such window illumination is reminiscent of the creations of portrait artist David Hamilton.


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With the advent of digital creativity, things can be artistically taken to the next step with a never-ending flurry of exciting and colourful Photoshop moves and effects. My taste dictates mostly digitally altering and colouring only the background of the ballerina's portrait. Basic Adobe Photoshop with a modest couple of my favourite plug-ins compiles my entire palette. Nik Filters offers my two favourite effects: Midnight and Dynamic Skin Softener. Softening or diffusing the image finds me employing my personal choice Swift Skin® (www.portraitworld). Nearly all backgrounds are heavily worked with Photoshop's smear tool, finished with my personal and often unique pattern stamps. Adding additional canvas height and width to the image file, I now prepare the portrait image file for a type of gallery-wrap presentation provided by my colour lab.

So…if one gets bored with one's day-to-day images or if a suitable and exciting model can't be located, simply contact the local dance school and explore the copious possibilities of colourful ballerina portraiture.

Dave Newman

Author: Professional Portrait Lighting


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1st Published 01/10/2009
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