Godriguezart ~ how i create - mark rodriguez (godriguez)

how i create

Godriguezart ~ how i create

this is a collection of behind the scenes videos i have created for some of my work. stay tuned to this page as i will be adding new ones as they come along. if you have any questions about my process feel free to drop me a line at: mark@godriguezart.com

ghostrider - BTS

here is the breakdown for my "ghostrider" image i created the image for the word "fire" for the 25th round of the photography scavenger hunt. i knew it would be a challenge, but i love a good challenge


 for this shot to work i needed multiple elements all shot in the same way to eventually be combined for the final image. chains, fire, and a scull all were integral to the shot and so i set about to light and shoot them all

for the key light i went with a alien bee B800 in a beauty dish to add the overall lighting from top to bottom. along the sides i added two strip banks again with B800s but both gelled blue to add some contrast and to help define the edges of the black leather outfit as well as the chains

since i would be adding fire coming from my neck area, i added a single canon 580EXII with a heavy orange gel to light my chest and shoulder areas

the shoots

i first shot my overall body posturing and tried several variants of poses as i was not sure how i wanted the final pose to be and wanted options. after i was satisfied with enough looks for the body i moved onto the chains

 i shot the chains by swinging them around as i wanted to get some in camera motion blur and it worked like a charm. thankfully the chains were plastic as i repeatedly hit myself in the head over and over while getting the shots i needed, and once i felt i had enough shots of the chains i moved onto the scull

 the scull was really tricky as i didn't want to over light the scull but also didn't want it to be too dark as it is usually illuminated via the flames both inside and out. for the final solution i moved the 580EXII that was illuminating my chest under the scull and then lit it from about with the beauty dish. this combination gave the perfect mix of internal and external lighting that a real flame would cast

 finally i shot the fire. thankfully none of my neighbors called the fire department as i set a mannequin head wrapped in aluminum foil and covered with a black t-shirt on fire after dousing it with kerosene. it created an amazing blaze and i got some great still and motion shots by moving the light stand the head was mounted to back and forth while i shot it

the edit

once in lightroom i culled all the parts of the shoot until i had the pieces i needed to put the whole thing together and then it was off to photoshop to put it all together. in total it was about 4hrs in photoshop to work all the elements into the final composite and get it to it's final state

final thoughts

going into this project i had my apprehensions of how the final outcome would turn out, but having some foresight and vision i was able to carefully shoot all the elements properly and in a way that made it all coalesce into a final image i am very proud of as always, if you have any questions about any part of my part of my work feel free to ask, I am always happy to further explain if needed if you enjoy these videos, please subscribe to my youtube channel and that way you will be informed when new ones are released …enjoy .

the calling - BTS

here is the–much requested–behind the scene post for my image "the calling"


as i explained in my previous BTS post, the model in this shot–Angejolie–approached me about doing a dark series based around some of the central themes of the show "Penny Dreadful" and one of the one things she asked me was can we do a levitation shot, to which my answer was a resounding...yes!


i have seen a lot of levitation shots and the ones that succeed have proper lift for the body so the task was to support her body evenly to give that look. first i had her on the table using clear plastic tubs under her so i could get some separation from the table but that wasn't working so i moved to my heavy duty wooden dining room chairs. after testing it out myself–i would never put a model through something i would not test myself first–the chairs proved to be the perfect support system for the look i was after

the lighting was one +Paul C. Buff, Inc. alien bee in a diffused 21" beauty dish directly overhead and another alien bee, bare bulbed aimed at the backdrop to illuminate through the material i shot the model first, then the table by itself, and finally draped her night gown material over two light stands so that i had additional material to work with when it was time to composite of just the flowing gown i shot with my 16-35mm right about in the middle range around 22mm at 1/200sec at f/5.6. once i had enough to work with i hopped over to photoshop to piece it all together


this was a tricky composite as i had several elements to try to blend together. i first separated the model from the background and then did the same with the table as i knew i was going to be creating a whole new background for the scene i then pulled pieces of the material from the shots i did with the gown alone and found pieces that matched her angle and form and blended those pieces into the scene for the final background i used a background texture that i purchased awhile back from one of Renee Robyn Photography's collections and then used some of the floor elements that i had created in a previous shot to finish out the room for a final touch i created some smoke, lighting, and shadow effects to tie the scene together and that was it

final thoughts:

for being the first time doing a levitation shot i was extremely happy with the results i ended up with and i think this is now up there with one of my most favorite shots i have created i have to thank HMUA Priscilla Monnique Artistry for her spot on makeup and hair work and give a huge thanks to model Angejolie Belle for putting her faith–and safety–in my hands and trusting in me to make a truly memorable shot for all of us

please checkout both Angejolie and Priscilla's work on their social media pages as well and book them for your next shoot

model: Angejolie Belle IG: @angejoliebellemodel

HMUA: Priscilla Monnique Artistry IG: @priscillamonniqueartistry

as always, if you have any questions please feel free to ask away. also, if anyone is interested in learning photoshop or even how to create composites like this i am available for individual teaching sessions either in person or online, message me for rates and availability ...enjoy . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBeFg7GdWNs



salvation forsaken - BTS

here is the breakdown and speed edit video for my "salvation forsaken" shot


the model in this shot–Angejolie–approached me about doing a dark series based around some of the central themes of the show "Penny Dreadful" which included, tarot cards, levitation, and the questioning of ones faith. based on those themes i set about a bit of a themed story line that strings together the images in the series as that of someone who tried to obtain power by unsettling and dark means and when that dark power consumed her it was then that she had to recant and attempt to pull herself back from her ill fated situation

this was the first time i had ever used a makeup artist of any kind and Priscilla knocked it out of the park. the makeup design was fully between she and Angejolie and it was exquisitely dark and lovely for the shoot


for the shot i went with one Paul C. Buff, Inc. alien Bee studio strobe in a diffused 21" beauty dish directly overhead the model. i keep a few boxes of click and lock faux wood flooring in my studio so i snapped together some for her to kneel on, though in hindsight i needed more behind her as you will see in the video as it didn't fully go all the way behind her...bad mark...bad mark

i stood on a ladder to get the vertical downward shot on her. i used my 16-35mm set at 33mm at f/5.6 and 1/200th sec and after i got what i felt i needed it was off to photoshoptopia for the final edit


angejolie said she did want to have blackened eyes so i took care of that as well as separating her from the background as i knew i needed to extend the wood floor background...again...bad mark...bad mark

i wanted to keep Priscilla's makeup work as pure as possible as it was spot on so i made only a few small modifications to it by adding droplets to the ends of the streaks on her face as they had dried up by the time we started shooting

final thoughts:

i was extremely pleased with the final results and had a great time working with both Angejolie and Priscilla and look forward to working with them again in the future please checkout both Angejolie and Priscilla's work on their social media pages as well and book them for your next shoot

model: Angejolie Belle IG: @angejoliebellemodel

HMUA: Priscilla Monnique Artistry IG: @priscillamonniqueartistry

as always, if you have any questions please feel free to ask away. also, if anyone is interested in learning photoshop or even how to create composites like this i am available for individual teaching sessions either in person or online, message me for rates and availability ...enjoy . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVGBYQVtxKU



death in my hands BTS

here is the behind the scenes video for the death in my hands shot i posted earlier in the week: http://tinyurl.com/death-in-my-hands


this was the first time for me working on a shot like this with a model and also out on location so it was a bit daunting to begin with. i tried to use my newly acquired canon 5D MIII for the shoot but ended up having extreme difficulties with it not wanting to communicate with my flashes, which ended up being later found out to be a much needed firmware update to my pocket wizards (see my post from a week or so ago)

when Angejolie Belle approached me to do the shoot, she sent me some looks she had collected and wanted something a bit dark, mysterious and woodsy, so i had the perfect location just up the road from my house in Medard park. the park is full of trees that look as though they are lifting themselves out of the dirt and about to start walking due to them growing on a hill and the sand eroding away.

as mentioned earlier, since my pocket wizards were not firing i went with the available light and timed it when passing clouds were overhead to even out the midday sun as i neglected to bring any type of scrim with me to filter the light i will have to say a huge thanks to Angejolie for being so patient during my flash issues and working with me to shoot when the light was optimum throughout our session


once we had something i could work with, it was off to photoshotopia land to edit away. as you can see in the video, i tried many different effects for the interaction with the skull itself and finally came up with the final spectral aura you see by using a combination of the smudge tool and layer blending

final thoughts

for all the headaches during the shoot i was extremely happy with the final results and have more still to come from this shoot. i learned a ton from the mishaps of that day and was fortunate to have been working with someone who was totally understanding through it all if you want to see more behind the scenes info or get personalized training on how to create art like this, please support my patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/godriguez



the conjuring BTS

the story
the shot itself is one that i have had kicking around in my head for some time about a perhaps Victorian man in search of dark powers and coming into possession of a box containing such evil. this might possibly lead to a full series as i have more stories tied to it

setup and lighting
i used a total of four lights for this shot and a mix of studio strobes and speedlites.

 i had one overhead strip bank with a +Paul C. Buff, Inc. alien bee to give an overall cast of light to the scene. set back far and in front of the camera

i had another alien bee gelled orange to light the front of the box and to cast an upward shadow on the wall behind me

directly behind me low to the ground i had another alien bee strobe gelled blue with a stage light modifier on it to cast light up behind me and highlight the rim of the hat to make it stand out against the background

 finally in the box on the table, i had a 580EXII speedlight gelled heavily green to blast the green glow up towards me

i used my 85mm for the shot though i wish i had a wide angle as it would have given it more depth in my opinion with that extra bit of added lens distortion

for the candles i took a separate longer exposure shot with no strobes to capture their ambient light cast on the table itself

 once i had what i needed it was off to photoshopia to work some magic. for the ethereal sculls i used the same scull i shot for Death in my four horsemen piece and used the smudge tool and the puppet warp tool to blend stretch and warp them into what you see in the final piece. i employed the same technique for the wispy green smoke as well

final thoughts
 i was happy to finally get this shot out of my head and into my camera and loved the process of creating it

if you want to see more behind the scenes processes of how i create the art i create or receive individualized training on how to do it yourself, please visit my Patreon page for more details: www.patreon.com/godriguez



Four Horsemen BTS


the first order of business was to collect up the much needed props for the shot. though i had some of the items already, i was lacking a scythe and a bow and arrow, but luckily the spirit halloween store just opened up for the season and finding those items was easily remedied


i knew i needed consistent–yet distinct–lighting for each rider so the setup was a strip bank with a Paul C. Buff, Inc. alien Bee studio strobe placed nearly straight down directly overhead.

behind me i had another strobe with a stage light modifier and heavily gelled a different color for each rider. what this did was push some of the light at my back to create a colored rim light, but it also allowed it to spill on the grey background and create a glow of each riders individual color which i will explain further down the post.

to illuminate the faces, i had one last strobe with a gridded snoot on a very low light stand and then directed up towards the face. for each rider i added the same color gel to the snoot, though not as much as behind as i only wanted a subtle hue of the color and not have it overly dominant


in the story of the four horsemen, each rider appears riding a different color horse so i wanted a way to convey that through lighting and costume design.

pestilence is said to be riding a white horse so his look had to be brighter than the other three yet not too white light, so i gave him a slight orange hue so he didn't stand out too much from the others. he carries a bow and is given a gold crown when he appears and in some interpretations he is said to possibly be christ himself, so i gave him a golden crown of thorns

war appears on a red horse so everything was gelled red for him and quite frankly he was the easiest to light/shoot

famine is on a black horse so he is the most dimly lit yet i gave him a subtle blue tone to differentiate him from the background. it was tricky trying to maintain the appearance of black yet not lose him totally to the darkness

death is on a pale horse which in some translations is said to be pale green so he received a green light treatment. for him i also shot a scull for which i blended into my face for the final piece


each one took about 2 hours or so each in photoshop getting all their details in place and effects with famine and death taking the longest of them all to complete once i had them where i wanted them individually i merged the four into one image and used the blending tool to wisp their smoky backgrounds together into one cohesive final image

final thoughts

i was very pleased with the results of this shoot and it was my first studio shoot using my new 5D mark III and i absolutely loved the RAW images i was able to capture with it as always if you have any questions feel free to ask away and if you want individualized training on how to create images like this or just want to throw a few bucks my way to help fund future art like this please support my patreon page: https://www.patreon.com/godriguez



pound of flesh BTS

this was a piece that took a bit of planning and one that i was still working out even as i was shooting it. positioning was key to the piece and so i tried many different poses as you can see in the video to make sure all the elements were seen properly and made sense in the scene

for the main lighting i had one alien bee in a large soft box just camera left and set nearly vertical to mimic window light spilling in. for the back accent light i had another alien bee in a strip bank to add a little shape and depth and also to highlight the scale and other elements on the table. finally i added a bounce reflector camera right to kick a hint of light back onto my face and to the table elements so that they didn't get lost in the shadows once i had my shots

i culled the photos in lightroom and found the ones i wanted to work with, then i went onto painting in the blood and other effects in the piece which is a technique i have been doing more of lately. for the flesh on the scale and the flayed piece falling down away from the knife i used a pack of expired deli turkey i had in the fridge so even though i couldn't eat it, i still put it to good use :)

the final piece was then brought into lightroom for some final adjustments and it was done. really happy with the results and becoming more and more comfortable adding larger bits of painted effects into my photos. as always if you have any questions about any of my processes feel free to ask



christmas meltdown BTS

i was once again commissioned by Petra Cross to create a fun shot involving her daughter Luna and after some brainstorming we came up with having Luna crying and peeing on santa's lap. since she is in San Francisco and i am in Tampa i gave her some direction of what i would need in the way of photos of Luna and how i would need her held in them and Petra captured exactly what i needed for it

next, when i first setup the shot of me as santa i did it during a live hangout that i opened up to the members of my mentorship program and it was a cool experience. i took questions from those who joined the hangout while i setup and during the shoot and it was fun to have some folks there hanging out while i did it

for the editing part i again invited those who wanted to join into a second hangout where i edited the shot in lightroom and photoshop. it was about a 3 hour long session where again i took questions as i worked and showed some different techniques and how to use some of the lesser known tools in photoshop.

at the conclusion of that hangout i decided i pretty much hated the results of what i had done. maybe it was nerves being watched or just plain laziness on my part, but there were many things i didn't do during the actual shoot that impacted the believability of the shot...so i set everything back up and reshot and re edited the whole thing over again. i was much happier with the second pass without a doubt and it was worth the time spent doing it.

as always if you have any questions feel free to ask away



ride the lightning BTS

this shot was for the word Electric for the Chrysta rae's photography scavenger hunt and i knew what i wanted to do almost immediately when i read the word. going off the title of the song "ride the lighting" by metallica, i set about to put myself into an electric chair

first thing i needed was an electric chair. i studied many different types and styles of electric chairs and the final design i created borrowed from features i found intriguing in the real life chairs i looked at. i built it out of relatively light weight pine so i could move it around easily and gave it a good coat of stain/sealant to give it a rich look. the straps were made from belts i bought at a thrift store and modified to the sizes i needed. the headpiece too was made from the belts and also used some modified brackets for the metal connector parts

for the lighting i started off with my main strobe in a gridded spotlight modifier aimed directly over top of the chair. i flagged it so there was no spillage onto my backdrop and had more control over the light. behind the chair i placed two more strobes both gelled blue. one was aimed at the back of me and helped to define the chair and my outline against the background. the other was directed at the floor below the chair and created a pattern emitting from the behind my feet across the floor. to finish it out i had a medium reflector on the ground in front of me to bounce light back at my feet and legs so they didn't disappear into the darkness below the chair

after i got the shot i needed, i brought it into photoshop and started the post processing process. for the sparks i actually jumped over to after effects as it has a dynamic lighting effect that allowed me to create the bolts on the fly and easily manipulate them. i saved them out as a transparent PNG and brought them into photoshop. i then puppet warped them into place on the final shot. after all was good in photoshop i did some final edits in light room and that was it. definitely a much more involved shot to create but the final result was exactly what i was looking for so it was entirely worth it as always if you have any questions feel free to ask away



love bites

this shot was an homage to my shot for Romance which was an homage to the famous scene in Lady and the tramp and you can see that shot here.

the lighting was one strobe overhead gelled orange inside a spotlight modifier. there was a speedlight just below the camera aimed up to give a little pop light to the faces. on the table behind us was another speedlight gelled orange and shooting through a candle holder to give the illusion of candle light illuminating our faces and the wall

from there is was into photoshop for approximately 3hrs of editing and digital deadening to finish out the look on both of us and to add some of the other elements of the flesh and blood i want to thank my wife miki for being such a good sport through all of it and being my lovely dead model

 as always if you have any questions feel free to ask.



i'll melt with you

i originally setup and shot something completely different for this shot and hated it so much i went in a complete opposite direction and i am glad i did.

for the lighting i kept it simple with a strobe in a strip bank directly overhead to give an even downward light. since i knew i was going to add the element of a candle burning in the final image i knew i also needed a light source that would mimic that light so i added a speedlight approximately where the candle would be burning. the speedlight was gelled orange and had a dome diffuser to soften the light.

after taking the basic shots of myself with my hands in my lap i knew i would need a shot of my shirt's collar without a shadow, so i put my clothes on my skeleton dummy and removed it's head so that i could get even light in and around my neck and shoulder areas. i then laid flat in a position on the floor looking up and shot my face that would eventually end up in my hands in the final shot. i then shot the candle at various stages of burning for what would become my head and neck area

i began my editing in photoshop and although i liked some of the dripping wax i was able to create, i didn't like the drips on the chair and floor so set my camera back up and shot real wax that i melted and dripped off the edge of the chair. i then went back into photoshop and finished up my editing of the final piece

as always if you have any questions feel free to ask away



looking down the cross

the shot is every bit an homage to one of my early influences Salvador Dali and his amazing piece Christ of Saint John of the Cross. i loved the way he used a reversed POV from that of the normal depictions of christ on the cross...a god's eye view.

so with that in mind i had a little fun with my nickname and gave it a Godriguez's eye view for the cross i bought 16' pieces of 2 x 8 lumber cut and screwed it together and then stained it. since i wasn't going to really nail myself to the cross i needed a way to have the illusion of an overhead view so i set it up horizontally on saw horses and then elevated my camera about 12' in the air facing down towards the length of the cross.

for lighting i wanted a controlled narrow light so i used an overhead strip bank for the key light. at the bottom of the cross i had a strobe aimed into a reflector to bounce a little light up under me just separate myself and the cross from the ground and illuminate my feet since i knew i needed to see them some in the final shot.

after a ton of tries and modifications to the lights and angles of elements i felt i had what i needed for the main shot. i then shot a few shots of an old rusty railroad spike i have that would serve as the nails for the final composite next it was all brought into photoshop where i spent about 3hrs pulling it all together and adding things like dirt, blood, and trimming down my less then jesus physique down a little to give it a more desperate feeling

i originally was going to have my good friend Samir Osman be my jesus and he would have been so perfect for it, but our schedules could not sync up on the day i knew i wanted to do the shot so i used myself as a backup. if you are wondering why i had to shoot this on such a particular day? because that particular day was Good Friday



the changeling

the inspiration for the shot comes from the movie poster for the 1980's movie The Changeling which was an incredibly spooky movie. the original poster was an illustration but i wanted to capture the original creepiness of the drawing in a photo

first i had to find an old wheelchair and after putting out a search via the social networks i turned to craigslist and low and behold i found one. where i had to go and pick it up from what was a pretty run down trailer park and murdered after answering craigslist ad type headlines were racing through my head through the entire transaction. luckily i left with the wheelchair and my life so that is a good thing

next i needed a wood floor and a long room. my neighbor happened to be in the process of moving so his dining room provided the long wall i needed. since there was carpeting in the room and i wanted a wood floor, i bought a couple boxes of clickable faux wood flooring and was ready for the shoot on the day of the shoot i started to assemble the flooring when i realized i had made a big mistake on the estimation on how much flooring i needed and came up way short. since the flooring store was closed that day and i was so far into the setup already, i decided to shoot the flooring in pieces.

i shot the main parts of the shot with the wheelchair empty and then again with me in it to throw the shadowy figure on the wall. i then moved the wood floor several times and made enough shots that i could piece it together later to have a full floor i then brought everything into photoshop and painstakingly reassembled the floor via the various shots and finished out the other modifications till i had the final shot complete

this was an extremely difficult shot to accomplish mostly due mostly to the logistics of creating the floor and trying to get in and out of the wheelchair without changing it's position since it doesn't have any kind of braking mechanism on it

as always, if you have any questions feel free to ask away.



thank ya vurry much

i had the idea of doing a greaser of some capacity and set about to create the look. i bought a "greaser" wig that was less than desirable when i got it so i washed it out to get the starchy spray they made it with and re sculpted the hair to give it more form and height that i wanted.

for the shot i wanted concise narrow light so went with a strobe in a strip bank for the front key light and a speedlight at a low power up and at an angle behind me to add some definition to my shoulders. i then added another speedlight directly to the side of my head aimed towards the camera for my rim light which helped separate the black hair from the background

after that i brought the shot into photoshop and started on the editing. i was close to being done with it but i still was not happy with the look of the hair as it was still messier than i wanted and i wanted that very distinctive highlight going down the side of the pompadour. so i rewashed the wig and reformed it again and reshot just for the hair which you can see at the end of the the shoot section of the video

all in all i was really happy with the results and i now know that i do not want to be a hair dresser :O

as always if you have any questions feel free to ask.



quit bugging me

i knew right away i wanted to cover myself in ladybugs but the logistics of corralling live insects posed a problem, first one of course...finding the ladybugs. believe it or not, you can buy mass quantities of ladybugs online and have them shipped to your door, so i ordered 500 live ladybugs and sure enough soon a box of live ladybugs was at my door i was trying to figure out a way to keep the bugs on my face and not fly away so tried creating several contraptions in which to place around my face to keep them within a close proximity to my face which you can see in the first part of the shoot portion of the video. none of these contraptions worked as either i couldn't breath or i couldn't get far enough away from my lens to focus

ultimately i said screw it and decided to do it outside on the ground. the plan was to dump them directly on my face shoot what i could with them on my face and hope to get enough on me that i could then composite them into the full shot. you can see in the video this kind of worked and it did work enough to get what i needed

funny thing about dumping ladybugs on your face is not only do they tickle as they walk around, but the ones that were close to the edges of my mouth and eyes started to actually bite. i guess they were feeding off dead skin in and around those areas or maybe getting moisture from it but the suckers were really hurting when they bit and you can see me wincing in some of the shots from it. the nice thing about doing it outside is they all ended up right in my garden after the shoot happily feeding on aphids.

for the lighting i wanted even light so i setup a strobe in my 48" octobank and had it parallel with me as i lay on the ground. after many agonizing shots of my flesh being torn apart by rabid ladybugs i finally got all that i needed and move it all into photoshop

the final edit in photoshop took over 8 hours because i had the entire thing just about finished and after really looking at it hated the results and started the entire editing process over from scratch to get it to look the way i wanted. the video only show the second full edit. pretty much all the ladybugs you see were individually placed in photoshop and even some of their legs and shadows were all hand drawn as they didn't really show up in the original RAW shots so some enhancements were in order to make them look more "buggy"

all in all i was happy with the final shot and another lesson learned in how to approach a unique situation to get the final results.

as always if you have any questions fell free to ask



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