My image ‘Creation’ took a journey of its own throughout the design process. I rather liked the idea of it transforming and taking its own form because that fit the concept. Babies go through a lot before they even arrive in our world as they develop physically in the womb. English philosopher John Locke presents an idea in his book Some Thoughts Concerning Education that they are born a blank slate, beginning their lives morally neutral.
“a child’s mind must be educated before he is instructed, that the true purpose of education is the cultivation of the intellect rather than an accumulation of facts”
I wanted to create an image with a baby in a natural surrounding, without any distracting artificial items, an exciting new untouched life as it enters our world.
Trying to create this type of image, with a baby outside in a forest in one shot would have been difficult. For the baby’s comfort and minimal disturbance, the best option was to photograph him separately to the scene and then layer them together as a composite.
DON’T LET WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE STOP YOU FROM WHAT YOU COULD CREATE
Composite photography allows the creator to build an idea into a visual that wouldn’t physically be possible. This 19th century photograph is a great example:
The Two Ways of Life was one of the most ambitious and controversial photographs of the nineteenth century. The picture is an elaborate allegory of the choice between vice and virtue, represented by a bearded sage leading two young men from the countryside onto the stage of life. The rebellious youth at left rushes eagerly toward the dissolute pleasures of lust, gambling, and idleness; his wiser counterpart chooses the righteous path of religion, marriage, and good works. Because it would have been impossible to capture a scene of such extravagant complexity in a single exposure, Rejlander photographed each model and background section separately, yielding more than thirty negatives, which he meticulously combined into a single large print.
I photographed the background plate first, using various bits of wood and shells in different formations which the baby could lay in. I paid careful attention to the amount of light that was falling across the shell where I planned to put the baby in, making sure there was no heavy shadows where his face would be.
EQUIPMENT & CAMERA SETTINGS:
Tripod – Essential!! Everything needed to be in focus, I used a small aperture and a slow shutter speed to maximise the light.
LIGHTING: Jinbei EF 200 watt sunlight LED | Top left angle
The image below of the baby in a nest was definitely a strong influence when I was planning my set-up. It is by Kelly Brown, Little Pieces Photography, who spent a day training with in 2017 and I continually be inspired by her gentle approach to newborn photography. Her style and colours are very natural and never distract you from the baby, her set-ups focus on the simple beauty of this each new life.
That image however, is not a composite. The nest is very large and the baby lies in the middle and this is where I wanted my image to be different, otherworldly.
The shoot with my client went really well, luckily he was a content little thing and quite happy lying on his back undressed which was important for this image.
TIP** Something that I have learnt throughout creating composites is that if you have a similar colour/fabric around the person then it makes cutting them out and editing so much easier. As you will see when I created the background plate, there was a piece of dark brown wool that I had placed inside the shell.
The wool was a similar colour to the wool and fabric around the baby, this made it easier when blending the edges together.
Initially when I got to this stage with the edit I felt I couldn’t go any further but I wasn’t happy…… I don’t think I’m ever 100% happy but I wasn’t even 80% this time! For one it was too warm and too busy, there was too much going on in the image it was distracting your eye from the baby. It had the earthy items and brown tones that I wanted but it wasn’t right.
I left it for a few weeks, kept coming back to it to see if a change would reveal itself to me. Then one day (probably after a decent sleep for once) my Superior temporal gyrus jumped into action and PING!
Great article to read about where our ideas come from on Cometoknow.com
Flashes of insight are those aha-moments when relaxing our mind, and without thinking methodological and logically, we are coming up with significant solutions. You know it yourself, when suddenly realizing “I can do this in a better and smarter way” or simply getting an idea, that seems obvious, but you haven’t thought of before – a sudden realization.
I KNOW WHAT I NEED TO DO – SIMPLIFY!!
I stripped the image right back, took away all the distracting factors until finally it was minimal and raw like I had originally planned.
When composing this image, like all images, the placement of the subject has to be visually pleasing. The Rule Of Thirds or the Golden Ratio should be considered, but at the same time it isn’t the only way to frame something. Just by placing the subject on one of the cross points isn’t necessarily going to create the perfect composition. The overall image has to be visually appealing, Sometimes a change of angle or filling the frame in a different way can work better than only abiding by the rules, although they shouldn’t be ignored completely.
This image fits the Rule Of Thirds or the Golden Ratio, the negative space isolates the subject and draws your eyes towards the baby which is lying over the cross points in right hand side of the central rectangle. And if you follow the curved line of the Golden Ration it also leads your eyes in to the baby.
I experienced a love / hate relationship with this image during the editing process. Which happens a lot, you have a perfect idea in your head but when it’s brought to life it doesn’t reach your expectations. There was one point when I considered not using it but thankfully I had my lightbulb moment and was able to finish it. I am extremely happy with my final edit of this image. The more I played with the textures, colour, light and shadows the more it turned into what I set out to make. A raw but beautifully natural image of a new life as it transitions into our world from the safety of his mother’s womb, thus represented by the shell in which he lays.