This shot started out as an attempt to photograph all five of our daughters, but the younger two (almost three years old, and 16 months) didn't really want to cooperate. My eldest, the one in the middle (who visits in the holidays but lives with her mum the rest of the time) asked for a portrait of her sisters for her birthday. So when she was up this weekend I thought I'd try and shoot all five of them at once. But, not surprisingly, none of them worked out at all well. I almost managed it, but every shot had at least one of them blinking, looking out the window, pulling someone else's hair, or any number of other things that didn't exactly add to the shot. So I gave up, and went with this shot instead (and there are some distracting elements, but on the whole I'm quite happy with it). Next time she's up I might try again, but for the time being three out of five seems like the best I can do.
It's also a good shot to put up today as it's my birthday, and what better thing to celebrate than family and children :-)
As for how this was done: it's a version of a technique I've talked about before. The diffuse effect, in this instance, is the result of adding two duplicate layers, both Gaussian blurred, both set to Soft Light blend mode. I duplicated the base layer, blurred it by 12px (on the full size image), changed the blend mode, duplicated the new layer, and blurred it again (by 20px). I then used the channel mixer to extract the red channel (resulting in a black and white image) and set it's opacity to 50%. The net result of this is that the image is desaturated and the luminosity of the skin tones is raised somewhat more than the surrounding detail (I think).
11.51am on 6/6/04