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07-05-2014, 06:57 AM   #1
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"The Letter" (Powerful Reflections)
Lens: DA 16-45mm f4 Camera: K10D 

Hi everyone :-)

I immediatly picked the word "reflections" from the list, because i've had the idea of interpreting Jan Vermeers painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window" in my head for quite a while now, but didn't ever get around to do it... so, the contest was the perfect opportunity to get my butt up :-)

The painting features a girl who receives a letter with bad news (propably from her lover, as the apples are seen as a symbol for extramarital affairs).
There's a reflection of her face on the glass of a window, and this reflection tells us more about the emotional state of the girl than her face does - that's something i really liked.

So i wanted to do something with a reflection, have a girl reading a letter, have the spilled apples, and also have a slight feeling of voyeurism in the picture, as if we're not allowed to witness this intimate moment - i hope that comes across. Otherwise i changed a lot about the composition, the idea was not to copy the painting but to play with its themes and make it my own thing.

Also, there was this building i've had my eye on for a long time because it featured these graphically interesting, long red stairs.
Instead of a window, i borrowed a mirror and took it there.
I asked Larissa, a friend who is an amateur actress in my university's theater group, to be in the picture.
She did a wonderful job acting, we tried out several intensities to find the fitting one, she was very patient with me trying to nail the shot.

I used my K10D with a DA 16-45mm, and Jonagold apples

I hope you like the result, Larissa is very happy with it :-) If you have any questions, go ahead!

Micha

PS By the way, i can highly recommend to do such projects (like choosing a classical painting and interpreting it photographically), it really makes you learn from the old masters, forces you to decide what makes a picture work in your eyes, and gets your creative juices flowing when you encounter problems on the way - that's when you change the whole thing to make it work your way. Anybody stuck creatively should try this out in my opinion... and then let us see the results here :-)

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07-05-2014, 01:12 PM   #2
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I really, really, really, really, really like the edit you've employed for this picture. And very interested in your lighting setup as well. Very well done.
07-06-2014, 03:01 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by D4rknezz Quote
I really, really, really, really, really like the edit you've employed for this picture. And very interested in your lighting setup as well. Very well done.
Thank you!!

I've put up one lamp (i've borrowed from a friend who's a film student, but i wouldn't know for my life what it was called or how much power it had) camera right, and aimed it at the girl.
A second light source is the daylight coming in at the top of the stairs.
That's all there is
07-06-2014, 05:14 AM   #4
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stunning pic, idea, compo & editing!

07-06-2014, 08:43 PM   #5
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You've balanced the ambient light and the strobe /speedlight/whatever light you used very well ! good job.
07-07-2014, 05:48 AM   #6
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Jonagold. Good choice. :-)
07-07-2014, 06:05 AM   #7
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Nice pic. Is there significance in that it's not actually her reflection at the moment (different hand placement on letter, etc...), and from what I can gather not even the same person?
07-07-2014, 12:42 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alcazar Quote
Hi everyone :-)

I immediatly picked the word "reflections" from the list, because i've had the idea of interpreting Jan Vermeers painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window" in my head for quite a while now, but didn't ever get around to do it... so, the contest was the perfect opportunity to get my butt up :-)

The painting features a girl who receives a letter with bad news (propably from her lover, as the apples are seen as a symbol for extramarital affairs).
There's a reflection of her face on the glass of a window, and this reflection tells us more about the emotional state of the girl than her face does - that's something i really liked.

So i wanted to do something with a reflection, have a girl reading a letter, have the spilled apples, and also have a slight feeling of voyeurism in the picture, as if we're not allowed to witness this intimate moment - i hope that comes across. Otherwise i changed a lot about the composition, the idea was not to copy the painting but to play with its themes and make it my own thing.

Also, there was this building i've had my eye on for a long time because it featured these graphically interesting, long red stairs.
Instead of a window, i borrowed a mirror and took it there.
I asked Larissa, a friend who is an amateur actress in my university's theater group, to be in the picture.
She did a wonderful job acting, we tried out several intensities to find the fitting one, she was very patient with me trying to nail the shot.

I used my K10D with a DA 16-45mm, and Jonagold apples

I hope you like the result, Larissa is very happy with it :-) If you have any questions, go ahead!

Micha

PS By the way, i can highly recommend to do such projects (like choosing a classical painting and interpreting it photographically), it really makes you learn from the old masters, forces you to decide what makes a picture work in your eyes, and gets your creative juices flowing when you encounter problems on the way - that's when you change the whole thing to make it work your way. Anybody stuck creatively should try this out in my opinion... and then let us see the results here :-)
Love the whole concept. I have been awaiting chance to smile on my goal of a photo version of a classic oil painting, so far without success. Your portrait succeeds in every way.

07-08-2014, 08:06 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by shammy Quote
stunning pic, idea, compo & editing!
Thank you!!

QuoteOriginally posted by D4rknezz Quote
You've balanced the ambient light and the strobe /speedlight/whatever light you used very well ! good job.
Actually, i've just put the lamp at maximum power :-D That turned out to be a good balance, but if i had wanted more light than that, i would have had moving the lamp closer (and into the picture) as only choice... Thanks!

QuoteOriginally posted by asp1880 Quote
Jonagold. Good choice. :-)
Yes :-) I could not possibly eat them all, so Larissa had to take quite a few of them home after the shooting... Best paid gig she ever had i think :-)

QuoteOriginally posted by Bunch Quote
Nice pic. Is there significance in that it's not actually her reflection at the moment (different hand placement on letter, etc...), and from what I can gather not even the same person?
Well spotted - yes, i have exchanged the reflection with one from a different shot. However, the original reflection is not much different.
It's definitely the same person. But I know what you mean - she almost seems like a different person, because the emotion that's visible in the reflection appears completely gone in her face which is covered by her hair and what's left visible seems more neutral from that angle (the head is titlted towards the camera - seems much more dramatic in the reflection where "tilted towards the camera" means tilted to the right... difficult to explain, sorry). I also made her face shiny with baby oil only on the far side to give her more of a sickish, sweaty appearance, and i told Larissa that i wanted her to appear more emotional in the reflection, so i think she adapted her acting accordingly, by giving me stronger mimics on the far side.
That's the best i can explain it, but i was a little stunned by the difference myself :-)

QuoteOriginally posted by waterfall Quote
Love the whole concept. I have been awaiting chance to smile on my goal of a photo version of a classic oil painting, so far without success. Your portrait succeeds in every way.
Thanks! What's standing in the way? :-)
07-11-2014, 08:41 AM   #10
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Simply brilliant in all respects! Photographically, it's impeccable on its own terms, but I'm also blown away by how successfully you've capturing the intended themes from Vermeer's painting. Love that you included the section of wall at left so it's as if the viewer is peering into the scene from around the corner (taking the place of the curtain in the Vermeer). I'd go as far as to say that the subject's expression, pose, dress, and being barefoot all convey a much greater sense of vulnerability and pain than even in the Vermeer! The drama is heightened by the scattered apples, taking us back to the unseen moment when she dropped the bag in shock at first grasping the letter's contents. Needless to say, you got my vote!
07-12-2014, 11:27 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by wmarkroberts Quote
Love that you included the section of wall at left so it's as if the viewer is peering into the scene from around the corner (taking the place of the curtain in the Vermeer).
Thank you very much! You're spot on, the concrete wall really was meant to have the function that the green curtain serves in Vermeer's painting.

QuoteOriginally posted by wmarkroberts Quote
I'd go as far as to say that the subject's expression, pose, dress, and being barefoot all convey a much greater sense of vulnerability and pain than even in the Vermeer
I tried to find a suitable location with a window, but couldn't find one that would work. So when i decided to use the mirror, i knew i would not be able to convey the emotions in the very clever and subtle way Vermeer did - with a ghostlike and distorted face in the reflection - but that i had to do it in a more literal way, because the ghostlike reflection wouldn't have been believable in a mirror. So, i decided to literally show emotions and vulnerability (taking advantage that i had a talented young actress at my disposal), just making it a little more interesting by covering the face you look at first with her hair So, i do feel the same way as you do, but it was rather born out of necessity than an actual idea
Anyway, i still think Vermeer is unbeatable

Mark, it's uplifting to read a comment like yours, especially when it's so specific. Thank you for that

Micha
07-15-2014, 01:28 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alcazar Quote
Hi everyone :-)

I immediatly picked the word "reflections" from the list, because i've had the idea of interpreting Jan Vermeers painting "Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window" in my head for quite a while now, but didn't ever get around to do it... so, the contest was the perfect opportunity to get my butt up :-)

The painting features a girl who receives a letter with bad news (propably from her lover, as the apples are seen as a symbol for extramarital affairs).
There's a reflection of her face on the glass of a window, and this reflection tells us more about the emotional state of the girl than her face does - that's something i really liked.

So i wanted to do something with a reflection, have a girl reading a letter, have the spilled apples, and also have a slight feeling of voyeurism in the picture, as if we're not allowed to witness this intimate moment - i hope that comes across. Otherwise i changed a lot about the composition, the idea was not to copy the painting but to play with its themes and make it my own thing.

Also, there was this building i've had my eye on for a long time because it featured these graphically interesting, long red stairs.
Instead of a window, i borrowed a mirror and took it there.
I asked Larissa, a friend who is an amateur actress in my university's theater group, to be in the picture.
She did a wonderful job acting, we tried out several intensities to find the fitting one, she was very patient with me trying to nail the shot.

I used my K10D with a DA 16-45mm, and Jonagold apples

I hope you like the result, Larissa is very happy with it :-) If you have any questions, go ahead!

Micha

PS By the way, i can highly recommend to do such projects (like choosing a classical painting and interpreting it photographically), it really makes you learn from the old masters, forces you to decide what makes a picture work in your eyes, and gets your creative juices flowing when you encounter problems on the way - that's when you change the whole thing to make it work your way. Anybody stuck creatively should try this out in my opinion... and then let us see the results here :-)
excellent work, well thought out.
07-16-2014, 01:47 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by jonnyhooks Quote
excellent work, well thought out.
Thank you!
07-16-2014, 07:57 PM - 1 Like   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Alcazar Quote
Thank you!!



Actually, i've just put the lamp at maximum power :-D That turned out to be a good balance, but if i had wanted more light than that, i would have had moving the lamp closer (and into the picture) as only choice... Thanks!



Yes :-) I could not possibly eat them all, so Larissa had to take quite a few of them home after the shooting... Best paid gig she ever had i think :-)



Well spotted - yes, i have exchanged the reflection with one from a different shot. However, the original reflection is not much different.
It's definitely the same person. But I know what you mean - she almost seems like a different person, because the emotion that's visible in the reflection appears completely gone in her face which is covered by her hair and what's left visible seems more neutral from that angle (the head is titlted towards the camera - seems much more dramatic in the reflection where "tilted towards the camera" means tilted to the right... difficult to explain, sorry). I also made her face shiny with baby oil only on the far side to give her more of a sickish, sweaty appearance, and i told Larissa that i wanted her to appear more emotional in the reflection, so i think she adapted her acting accordingly, by giving me stronger mimics on the far side.
That's the best i can explain it, but i was a little stunned by the difference myself :-)



Thanks! What's standing in the way? :-)
Finding a scene to match "Night Hawks."
07-18-2014, 05:04 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by waterfall Quote
Finding a scene to match "Night Hawks."
Oh, nice pick! Would love to see the outcome. Actually when i think about it... if you don't do it soon, i might steal your idea and do it myself
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