A Very Specific Kind of Horror

I am not a horror fan-I’m squeamish and I don’t like being scared-but most of my friends are. And if they want to do something spooky, who am I to deny them the opportunity to get gross for the camera?

The challenge was figuring out how to pull it off. Claire and I agreed that instead of blood and gore we’d go the supernatural route and that meant black ichor…and lots of it. Unfortunately black ichor is not readily available in our local co-op grocery store and solving puzzle boxes that unlocked portals to hell was more effort than we were willing to expend. The interwebs were also no help whatsoever. You’d think that “black ichor nude photography” would reveal dozens of hit, but nope-there is a dearth of this kind of stuff in the public sphere.

Ditto for black makeup effects. There are tons of resources about how to apply black makeup, but nothing on how to make them runny and gross. So we did what we did best – improvise and roll with the punches.

The solution turned out to be extremely simple: $1.79 black makeup from the Halloween aisle at Walmart mixed with water. It runs, it smears, it is supposedly non-toxic, and it cleans up with soap and water.

So if you’re looking to recreate this effect, grab cheap Halloween makeup, mix with water, and boom! A very specific type of horror effect:

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

We wanted to start slow and build up to this, though. We’d already done the dark beauty runny makeup thing, so more was added to the face and torso. Our initial tests were a little too tentative so instead of cleaning up Claire just smeared the makeup around until we had a nice, streaky look.

I was really channeling Fritz Lang here:

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

Seriously: it’s one of my favorite images.

Hey, have I mentioned that between the hair and the tattoos Claire is an exceptionally colorful subject? It also gave me the opportunity to play around with a style of processing that better fits the mood.

With a new foundation upon which to build it was time to break out the ichor and see what we could create.

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200
OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

More was clearly necessary:

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

Satan’s own finger-paint! Naturally, I had to do a color version:

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

Lighting is super simple, too: a single gridded 20″ silver beauty dish to the left of camera.

The downside is that once you go down this path you’re committed to the bit. While as I said it cleans up easily in soap and water, it’s not really something you are going to want to reset and try again in the same session. Sure, if a mag was paying you to it would absolutely be doable, but…hobbyist.

So we did the next best thing and had Claire smear everything again before sending her off to the showers.

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

But not before getting a shot with the queen and her crown.

OM-1 | 45mm | 1/50sec | f/8 | ISO-200

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