Seeing What’s Behind

I’ve had this frame that I saved from a broken mirror lying around in my studio waiting to be used for a project. It’s been a long wait as I’ve been at a loss for ideas of how to best use it, but yesterday a thought came to me – what if I took a photo of myself with the frame surrounding the middle part of my body; or, even better, what if I took one photo from the front and one from the back and then merged the two images to create a photo where above and below the frame you’d see my front and within the frame you’d see my back.

It turned out to be a much easier project in my head than it was in reality. I had no idea how to set up the lighting and it proved to be rather complicated to figure out how to get the lights just right to minimize the casting of shadows hitting my body from the frame since I did not want to have the frame pushed up against my body all the way. I also naively thought that I could use the same light set up for both the front and rear view but I had to move the lights around repeatedly between shots before I finally got it close to right. And then there were the near contortionist moves trying to hold the frame behind me, looking in a mirror to make sure that it was straight and also figuring out how to work the camera remote with just a finger while pushing it up against the frame (and holding the frame up and straight) to take the shot. It took me nearly an hour of active shooting time to get the shots I was going to use. And then there was the nearly 24 hours over the course of which I went back and tried to finalize the image in Photoshop.

This is hands down the toughest and most frustrating project I’ve done so far. I actually ended up with two final images between which I can’t pick. I had nearly gotten to the end of editing the project when I decided to use the gradient map layer in Photoshop. After choosing the gradient map adjustment, my image showed up as a negative and it occurred to me to leave what was within the frame as a negative while masking the rest of the layer. And I thought that it looked really interesting. Fast forward a few hours and my husband comes home. I showed him the photo with the negative within the frame and he had a strong preference for my original version. That made me doubt myself and thing that maybe I’m seeing my own work all wrong… Or maybe he’s the one who’s wrong. Don’t know. So here are both of the versions.

(50mm, ISO 100, f/10, 1/125 sec + two 150w monolights with standard 8″ reflectors, one on camera right and one on camera left, and two speedlights on background)

Seeing What's Behind

Seeing What's Behind Negative

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