Following my recce shoot of the Smith Gallery, I went back to create the shot I had in mind, this time all in camera, no photoshop/HDR-buggery. Just so you have an idea of the challenge involved, here's a picture exposed just for the beautiful ceiling:
Lovely up there, but it's the only light source in the room, and the height means the light falloff makes for dingy walls and floor lower down. The job called for several lights, carefully placed to avoid hot spots, shadows and reflections. I wanted the dress in the foreground to be a focus for the shot, but bare flash just didn't do it any justice, so I warmed it up with CTO and Yellow gels, and a little fill from the floor. Strobist details are on the flickr page if you're interested. Anyway, five flash guns, two radio triggers, three optical triggers, three light stands, one tripod and a wireless camera remote in play, and this was the final result:
I'm happy with this. I could have done it faster. With a litte more faffing around and perhaps some more equipment, I might have been able to do something a little subtler with the walls, but once upon a time I wouldn't have had a clue how to do any of this. The only thing I miss is the lovely violet colour of the base the mannequin was on, but that was a bit of a photoshop artefact anyway. I'm glad I did the recce shoot to create what I wanted with Photoshop and come up with a plan on how to achieve it, but I'm fairly confident that I could probably have pulled this off straight away anyway. That's growth, and I must give due thanks to David Hobby and his Strobist blog for all the great lessons.