Trompe l’Oeuil

October 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Baroque art, particularly French painting, is full of masterful examples of images which trick the eye into believing that what you are seeing is a three-dimensional reality, even though your head knows that it cannot be possible. Photographic manipulation also allows the photographer’s imagination to create images that are not quite what they seem, even without going to the extent of pixel manipulation in Photoshop. This image resulted from my regular fascination with reflections and the potential for perspective effects using mirrors.

 

Trompe l'OeuilTrompe l'OeuilCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Making An Opportunity Out Of A Challenge

A visit to the Royal Box at the restored Venetian Opera House of “La Fenice” in difficult photographic circumstances gave me both a challenge and an opportunity to make the best of a variety of restrictions. These included: the small space: the crowd of fellow tourists; the need to respect the delicate and precious restored furnishings; the inability to use a tripod and the need to avoid flash. I was therefore extremely grateful that my “art” camera body, a Nikon D800, could provide an acceptable final image from a severe crop of a handheld, flashless, image taken at maximum ISO of 6400.

 

Here is the original, full frame image, from which you can observe the crop of an area left of centre, which was used for the processed, final effect. Note the "crowd" of visitors in the bottom left.

 

Royal Box at La FeniceRoyal Box at La FeniceCopyrighted Digital Photograph

 

Photographing Into A Mirror

Firstly, it is somewhat important to find the angle which ensures that the camera and cameraman, not to mention the crowd of fellow visitors, are not part of the scene, unless it is taken for the purpose of a “Talking to Myself” self portrait, such as this:

 

Talking To MyselfTalking To MyselfCOPYRIGHT 2008 Paul Grayson AMDG

 

Secondly, flash into a mirror will destroy the image being so carefully framed, so it must be captured with ambient light, however complicated this may be for the brightness and colour balance resulting from artificial light. For an indoor scene, this also results in a choice between moderately wide aperture, high ISO, low speed, or any combination thereof. This leads to a high probability of creating some camera shake.

 

Thirdly, this kind of penetrating view in a mirror needs to capture the depth of retreating multiple images. Thus, there is a need to maintain a reasonably narrow aperture, reducing the options mentioned above and increasing the issue associated with low speed. Using a lens with vibration reduction capability was a help in this circumstance.

 

Settings

The following extract from the camera’s metadata demonstrates the combination of parameters which I (and the camera’s computer) finally settled on. Note particularly the very high ISO the depth-of-field oriented aperture of f8 and the use of vibration reduction. The choice of Exposure Compensation was made in order to minimize the glare of the white lamps.

 

Camera: Nikon D800

Lens: VR 70-200mm zoom f/2.8G

Focal Length: 70mm

VR: On

Focus Mode: AF-C

Autofocus Area Mode: Single

Aperture: f/8

Shutter Speed: 1/80s

Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority

Exposure Compensation : -1 OEV

Bracketing:  None

Metering: Matrix

ISO Sensitivity: 6400

 

I hope that I have given a taste of the multiplicity of choices arising in this situation and the fact that, at the end of the day, it is a matter of experience, gut feel and experimentation which decide whether the end result will be fruitful or not. What would you have done?

 

Copyright Paul Grayson 2014


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