The Zebra Project or “Zebra Socks”


Zebra photography in the wild

We all know how hard it is to take a picture of zebra in the real, wild life world. One would have to wait for hours and hours to spot a herd of zebras, try to approach slowly and quietly, just to see them zebras fleeing away each time you get close.

Zebra photography at home

I would like to suggest a different approach, take a picture of the zebra at home, at your free time, using just a few accessories: The first and most important one is zebra stockings. I got my stockings at eBay, but any short search on google will do the trick. I looked for zebra and stockings and costume. some of the stores were not so nice but most customes stores have them. Here is what it looks like on a person – my own zebra on camera:

Zebra picture number 1

zebra picture number 1

Setup for the “hunt”

Now to the fun part: find a model. If you purchase your costume with “one size fit all” size like I did, this should be no problem. One tip I can give you is – if she has nice legs, the picture will be better.

Here is the setup: I had my model sitting on a chair in front of my white, home made backdrop (that’s a homemade background). Since this is a “studio” picture I tried to control the lighting of the picture. I used two strobes for these shots: One Vlen 400, which is a professional strobe, and an SB28 Nikon Flash, with the home made softbox I did some time ago and a slave unit I got on ebay. I set the vlen to point to the background at it’s top power, aiming to burn away the background. I set the SB28 to point to the legs of my model. at a lower power. trying to keep the whites white, without loosing the blackness of the black.

At the end I had to do some post processing, but we will get to this later.

We fooled around a bit, trying different poses and different angles, taking both horizontal frames and vertical frames. coming up with the following results:

Zebra picture number 2

Zebra picture number 2

Zebra picture number 3

Zebra picture number 3

Now, the pictures were not exactly how I wanted the to be so i did a little photoshop post processing.

Post processing

There are two main things I did to improve the picture: add contrast using the curves dialog, and remove saturation (get the back and white effect) using the Hue/Saturation dialog. I did a whole bunch of those, so i created a photoshop action that you can download.

  1. Remove Saturation: to get the black and white effect I called up the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer (ALT+L+J+H) and pulled the saturation bar all the way down to -100. and pressed OK.
  2. Increase Contrast: to get the opaque black I called up the Curves adjustment layer (ALT+L+J+V), and created a nice S shaped curve.

I then resized, used unsharp mask, framed, and used Brian Zimmerman’s copyright action to embed the copyright mark on the pictures.

Now, all that is left is to say, HAPPY ZEBRA HUNTING.