Boring Art, Boring Life: Back to the Future, Revisiting a Grad Photo                                                  

Back to the Future, Revisiting a Grad Photo

Yesterday was a busy day, spring break is fast coming to a close and I have a lot of things that I want to do. As is normal for my life, I planned to do way too many things during my time off. To start with I have several months weeks ago I booked time with my photographer friend, Sean Fenzl for what we dubbed, Medium Format Madness; a day of shooting film on a variety of cameras. Of course, I am still preoccupied with the crafting and photographing for Back to the Future.

I'll talk more about the film photography in another post, I'll stick to the digital stuff in this post... for the most part. Needless to say, we used medium format TLR's and a couple range finders. It truly was a no digital day for the morning.

We met in the morning at 8am and spend them morning downtown, until about 10:30. After that Sean and I met up with another artist friend Chelsea. The orininal intent is that in the morning we would talk photograph and then migrate to the studio to develop film and prints. By 11:30 we migrated to the studio.

Once at the studio, Sean and Chelsea worked in the darkroom. Although I originally intended to do the same, I decided to take advantage of an empty classroom (my studio).  I set to work on recreating one of my images, my graduation photograph.

Of all my images this is probably the second most challenging. Not only is my hair... large but I am wearing a paisley shirt, making it very difficult to find a suitable shirt. I posted about my terrible thrift storing experience,  in a past post. This is also one of the most humiliating pictures that I shared with my class, when I was offering images to my class to choose from; my student picked through a selection of images to choose which images I would remake. I suspect that the embarrassment has to do with the fact that this image was taken when I was around the age my students are now. Sharing this image reminds me of how awkward I was in highschool, it also reminded me how much I couldnt wait to get out of highschool.

In my shopping I was unable to find any shirt that came close to being anything like the original. In fact, in 12 thrift stores, I could not find 1 paisley shirt. I thought for sure that I would be able to fine at least 1 paisley shirt, possibly a different colour...but nope. The best I came up with was a solid colour dress shirt, suitably one that is puffy and too large. I decided that I'm not satisfied with just a flat shirt, so I grabbed a Shapie and drew a rough paisley pattern on the shirt, and then started painting.

You can see in the above images that I used the black sharpie plan out the pattern and then used a cerulean blue to create the paisely. Then I added grey paint to enhance the pattern and more sharpie to complete the pattern. I am really impressed with how the impression of the shirt feel like the original. Once I add the soft glowing effects and some blur, the shirt will work fantastic. Swede, successful.

I set up the lighting studio. Now that I have had a lot of experience using various types of lighting, I can see that my original grad photo has so many terrible aspects too it. First there is the really soft glow, then there is the horrible back lighting too.

Once setting up the lighting, positioneing and repositioning, adding fill, making a barn door on one of the flashes. I enlisted Sean's help to help pose me and click the button. Here are some results. You might ask yourself, how many shots did it take to get this image right? Let me tell you, we took 55 images. Each image having something not quite right. Had I originally planned to shoot on this day I would have brought some risers to allow myself to stand up straight. As it is, I had to hold a lunge position for several minutes at a time, while we took the pictures. I can see why Irina Werning uses other people for her projects, rather than using herself as a model.

In the end, I chose 1 image and processed it. To create the glowing effect I applied a guazien blur effect to a duplicate layer and then changing the blending mode to overlay. It did create a rather soft look. However, I am not satisfied with the image in the end. There are also a number of other issues with the picture. I have a rather strained look on my face, likely due to the fact that I am holding a lunge position to get down low enough (note to self : bring more blocks to use as risers for props).

I looked through my images, this time I chose an image in which I'm wearing my glasses.

The pose is much better but the image still needs a lot of work to make it look like the original. This time I used the Gaussian blur tool on the duplicate layer and changed the opacity, rather than altering the layer blending modes. Obviously there were some other issues that needed to be resolved, regardless I did manage to do it and change some of the colour saturation to match the image.

1994 vs 2012

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