This week I thought I would have another go at creating a Blakemore type photograph for part of the Vanitas assignment. I wasn’t happy with my previous attempt that felt a bit rushed and I hadn’t filled the frame as well as I could have done. Blakemore used natural light to take his images and I wanted to do the same.
I set my workstation up in front of a large bay window, my camera was placed on a tripod in front and I used a reflector to reflect light back onto my subject. Although Blakemore would have used a larger format camera, I used my Sony A7 with an 18-200mm lens.
I wanted to use ISO 100 and an aperture of f8 and set the shutter speed around that depending on how bright the sun was. It began as quite a bright morning but clouded over as I was working.
I started by taking couple if shots of the soil that I had put in a tray and then started playing about and laying out the items that I had found in my own garden. I included holly, ivy, piece of rotton wood, a piece of coal and even part of a fossil but because my husband also repairs our cars from time to time he also leaves behind bits of metal, washers and nuts and bolts and I wanted to include them in my image too.
At first I filled the frame too much. I included almost everything that I had brought to use but it was far too cluttered. For my next attempt I took most of the greenery out and left a scene mostly of man-made items. Finally though I took out everything that was shiny and looked new’ish and replaced it with some rotten sunflower heads that I had been saving. This was the image I liked best. The rotten flowers and wood echo the worn and rusty metal items – all are well past their best and destined only for the rubbish heap.
In photoshop I opened my chosen image, created a fill layer and pasted the soil image into it. I changed the opacity to 50% and used the eraser tool to rub through the soil layer and highlight some of the items below. I changed the colour to black and white but preferred the muted tones of this desaturated version.
These are the two images that I merged together.