It’s been pretty cold up here for the past few weeks. Like really, really cold. Finally all the ice seems to be melting (only to snow all over again).

So what’s up with all this late winter??? Oh well, not going to complain too much because it’s given me a chance to do a winter-themed composite piece using a lot of the icy remnants. So here’s a little behind the scenes look at my recent composite work, aptly titled The Ice Queen.

The first thing I needed was the perfect blank canvas to work with, and a few shots from last year’s shoot at the Historic Baker Building in downtown Lubbock provided just that (with a few tweaks, of course). The pose was 90% there and so was the costume (or the costume I imagined for my Ice Queen). I knew I wanted a shot with the model’s arm outstretched (so that she could be holding the huge ice spear I found hanging from my neighbor’s roof), but the model I wanted had her arms down in every single shot. What to do?


Use another model’s arm, of course! ; ) Luckily, there were a bevy of models that day, and I managed to find a shot with the perfect arm for my project. So then there was the costume itself. I knew for the final piece I wanted the model’s upper body to be bare and the “dress” to look like it was made of icy tree branches (or something). The original model plate was nearly perfect aside from the collar of the dress. Luckily, again, I had another shot that I was able to mask in to cover the collar and achieve the look I was going for.

The dress was actually the last part of the puzzle that I worked on, so I’ll circle back around to that later on.

Now that my model was finished, it was time to move on to the other elements in the piece: the Ice Queen needed an icy crown, a regal icicle scepter, and a frigid background to call home. After days of ice and snow, the house was festooned with icicles hanging from every inch of the roof (and my neighbor’s roof). Thanks to Mother Nature for the assist with all of the Ice Queen accoutrements. All of the icicle shots easily came together to form her crown.


The ice spear was also pretty easy since I actually found a three-foot icicle hanging from my neighbor’s roof (which I shamelessly acquisitioned for my own purposes). I took a series of closeup shots in the garage and boom, ice spear done.

The background is a tweaked-in-Lightroom shot of some snowy concrete in my driveway. Simple.

Which brings us back around to the dress. Even the way it was, it looked pretty good and seemed to fit the picture pretty well. But it needed something more. It needed to look a little less man-made. There were some great trees all over town (and in my front yard!) that were stark white from all the icy compounding on their branches. Perfect! Spliced in a few of those at different angles and created my wintry dress. I allowed a little of the original dress texture to peek through and it turned out pretty good.

Easy enough, right?

Final composite:

View larger on flickr
View larger on flickr