A true story…

I can still remember like it was yesterday. I was walking down the street and suddenly a black cat crossed over. Although I’m not superstitious, I do not want to tempt fate. I tried to stop the cat before he reached the other side. Afraid for the unlikely but nevertheless very real chance that I would be struck by lightning or any other uncommon but lethal accident. A flower pot could suddenly fall from the sky on my head. Or I might stumble into a manhole without a cover. Actually, I can image lots of these ‘accidents’ with unfortunate endings. So why would I take a chance with destiny?

I started running like crazy. To try to reach the other side before the cat did. A matter of pure speed and agility on my part and (hopefully) sheer surprise on his part. The cat was so shocked by my sudden movement that he stopped in his tracks wondering what the hell I was doing. But before he realized what was happening, I had reached the the other side already.

My mission was successful. I outwitted the black cat and I outwitted fate. And there we were, standing like statues, looking at each other .

And this is the part where most people walk away because they do not believe me. But on the grave of the cat, I swear this is a true story!

This is what happened. The cat looked straight at me and beckoned me with its paw. At first I thought it was a pure random movement, but there, he did it again! Come here he signaled me….

At the risk of of sounding like a compulsive neurotic idiot, I believe that if you walk up to a black cat, it does not have the same effect as when one crosses your path. You are namely the one that takes action instead of the cat. The laws of accidental fatal events do not apply in this scenario. Anyway, I’m not superstitious, so I walked to the cat.

I should have known better. I was less than three footsteps away and I was already hit by a passing car. I was stone-dead.

I was told later that I was still conscious for a few minutes, but it didn’t last long. They took me with the animal ambulance to the vet, but I had already given up this earthly life before the vet could reanimate me. I was just another stray labrador that was hit by a speeding car.

Life and death, seem unfathomable. I expected that my light would extinguish and disappear into the big black nothing. But instead, my life-spark traveled through the great unknown.

After a journey that spans vast oceans of time and space, I ended up as a reincarnation of Edgar Verhoeven. Artist, bon vivant and professional dreamer.

I can remember everything from former self, but apart from that, I’m doing fine. Sometimes I have the urge to cry to the moon, but that’s it. Life’s been pretty good to me. Meanwhile, the cat and I have grown inseparable. Friends for life. Although he actually killed me, I’m still grateful for his presence.

My name is Edgar Verhoeven and this my world. If you are doubting any of my adventures  (and I do not blame you if this is the case), you can always have a look at my photographs…..

 

 

In Dutch:

Ik kan het me nog als de dag van gisteren herinneren. Ik liep over straat en daar stak ineens een zwarte kat over. Alhoewel ik niet bijgelovig ben, wil ik het lot niet tarten.  Ik probeerde de kat ervan te weerhouden zijn pad te vervolgen. Bang voor de onwaarschijnlijke doch zeer aanwezige kans dat ik door een toevallige dodelijke gebeurtenis getroffen zou worden. Zoals een bloempot die opeens vanuit de lucht op je hoofd valt. Of een putdeksel die los zit en zodat je meters diep naar beneden valt. Ik kan me nog een heleboel andere toevallige gebeurtenissen voorstellen die akelig aflopen. Dus voorkomen is beter dan genezen zeg ik altijd?

 

Ik zette het op een sprinten. Ik probeerde voorlangs de kat te komen, voordat hij de straat over was. Een kwestie van pure snelheid en behendigheid mijnerzijds en pure verassing zijnerzijds. De kat was zo geschrokken van mijn plotselinge spurt dat hij stokstijf bleef staan, zich afvragend waar ik in hemelsnaam mee bezig was. Maar voordat hij doorhad wat er aan de hand was, stond ik al aan de overkant.

Ik had het gered, mijn missie was geslaagd. k was ‘m te slim af.  Triomfantelijk mag ik wel zeggen.  En daar stonden we dan, aan weerszijden van de straat.

En dit is het gedeelte waar de meeste mensen afhaken, omdat ze het niet geloven, maar op het graf van de kat, ik zweer dat dit werkelijk waar gebeurt is.

Hij keek me recht aan en wenkte me met zijn voorpoot. Eerst dacht ik dat het een pure willekeurige beweging was, maar hij deed het nog een keer. Kom dichterbij leek de kat te wenken.

Op het gevaar af dat ik als een dwangmatige neuroot overkom, geloof ik erin dat als jij naar een zwarte kat toeloopt, dit niet hetzelfde effect heeft als een zwarte kat die je pad kruist. Jij bent namelijk diegene die actie onderneemt in plaatst van de kat. De wetten der toevallige dodelijke gebeurtenissen gelden volgens deze logica dan niet meer. Maar goed, ik ben niet bijgelovig, dus ik liep naar de kat toe.

Ik had beter moeten weten. Ik was nog geen meter onderweg en ik werd al geschept door een voorbijkomende auto. Hij heeft me morsdood gereden.

Het schijnt dat ik nog wel een paar minuten bij bewustzijn was, maar het heeft niet geholpen. Met de dieren ambulance werd ik naar de dierenarts gebracht, echter voordat hij me kon reanimeren, had ik de geest al gegeven. Ik was gewoon de zoveelste loslopende labrador die was aangereden.

Het leven en de dood, blijken ondoorgrondelijk. In plaats dat mijn levenslicht uitdoofde en verdween in het grote niets, ben ik als een vonk door ruimte en tijd gereisd, waar ik na een ogenschijnlijke eeuwigheid

ben terechtgekomen als reïncarnatie van Edgar Verhoeven. Kunstenaar, levensgenieter en dromer pur sang.

Ik heb nog wel eens de aanstekelijke drang om naar de maan te huilen, maar verder dan dat gaat het eigenlijk best wel goed met me. De kat en ik zijn inmiddels onafscheidelijk.  Vrienden door dik en dun. Ik denk wel dat er bij de kat een soort van schuldgevoel aan ten grondslag ligt bij onze vriendschap. Maar goed, ik ben toch dankbaar voor zijn aanwezigheid.

Mijn naam is Edgar Verhoeven en dit is de wereld waarin ik leef. Mocht je enige twijfel hebben aan de dingen die ik mee maak (en ik neem het je niet kwalijk als dit het geval is), heb ik altijd de foto’s nog als bewijs……

 

Biography

A website that is going to publish an article about me, asked me for a biography and I realised that I didn’t have one!

So I wrote one and here it is….

Early childhood

I was born in 1970, in the Netherlands in a town called Dordrecht.

When I was about 11 years old, I can remember that I ‘borrowed’ my fathers 8mm film camera. I tried to make a sort of special effects ‘movie’. The idea was that a friend of mine would act as if he was a magician casting a spell. He was waving his hands around an object in a mysterious way. I would stop filming and my friend would stay completely still. Like a frozen statue. Then I would remove the object and started filming again upon which my friend started waving his arms again. When you looked at the complete scene it would appear that the object vanished into thin air.

It was magical….. Well at least to me, because when my father found out that I had messed with his expensive film, he wasn’t too happy.

The lost days

Fast forward ten years into the future…..I was studying physics. To be honest, I wasn’t too happy back then. It took me a year to find out that physics wasn’t just for me. I was looking for the ‘secret’ of the universe, for the wonder of it, but somehow studying physics didn’t give me the answers I was looking for.

After quitting physics, I really didn’t have a clue what I should be doing next?

So, I took a psychological test that evaluates who you are and what you would like to do as a profession. It turned out that I should be a photographer or a painter. I couldn’t believe it! That was something I never rationally considered. Sure I fooled around with a camera as a kid, but that was just playing. I thought it was ridiculous. Not only me, but my father expected me to study something ‘significant’. Art wasn’t significant in his opinion. An artist has no money, has no future. His idea was that I should succeed in life. Be a businessman or somebody important. It was okay to do photography as a hobby. But I should get a serious job. A responsible job. Fun was something for on the side.

So I ignored the results from the psychology test. I ignored my intuition. And most crucial of all I ignored having fun and went on to study…… psychology.

At this point you might ask, why psychology? I’m not sure if I have an answer. Perhaps on a subconscious level I was seeking for a meaning in life. An existentialist undercurrent perhaps.

Once in a while my creative side took over. So I took another sharp turn and studied electric guitar at the Conservatory for a year. But finally I finished my psychology studies and went on to work as an……..ITC consultant.

Sounds logical right? Those were the lost days…..

Finding Meaning

Fast forward another fifteen years. I was having that career that is supposed to be the holy grail of modern times. I wasn’t still too happy though. I just couldn’t figure out why? I was successful in life after all? But that’s a matter of how you define ‘success’.

Luckily things started to come together when I met the love of my life. Not only did I fall in love with this wonderful woman, she also happened to be a hobby photographer with a real SLR camera!

Still attracted to the medium, I ‘borrowed’ her camera. First I borrowed it occasionally, later on this became indefinitely. I was feeling like a kid again. I was having such a good time that I frequently lost track of time. After a photography course, I decided to follow my intuition for once and follow up on that advice that was given to me so many years ago. So I went to the Photo Academy in Rotterdam.

It was here that I ‘rediscovered’ my true ‘meaning’ in life. The lost days were over. I realized that it has to do with following your heart. Do the things that you love to do. It also has to do with being a child again. You see, when I was young I wasn’t dreaming of a career, a mortgage or a judicious paycheck. I don’t think any kid dreams of these sort of things. But fore some reason or another that’s what you’ll end up doing. Chasing money.

But……although I was studying photography, it was still not completely what I wanted to do. You see, as a photographer you are more or less expected to take photographs of the ‘real’ world. But I soon found out that I wasn’t interested in reality. I was interested in the exact opposite. I wanted to catch that feeling of childhood wonder again.

Photography alone could not satisfy my needs. I mean, how do you take photographs of something that doesn’t exist?

Here’s where the computer comes in. It is this combination of photography and 3D computer imagery that makes it complete for me. It’s not only a matter of retouching a photograph or making a collage in Photoshop. It goes much further than that. It’s creating something that doesn’t exist in the first place and as real as possible.

Finding form

I have graduated from the Photo Academy in 2012. It’s here that I developed my own way of photography. My own way of looking at the world. But graduation is not the end of it. Quite the contrary, I have just begun my exploration. Thankfully it’s a vast universe to be explored.

What I have come to realize is that making a good image is staying true to yourself. It’s your own experience, imagination, fears, dreams and contemplations that make up an image.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if what I’m doing can be considered photography. Not in the traditional meaning of the word anyway. Not only because I combine photography, image manipulation and 3D computer graphics. That’s just a technical thing. More importantly it’s because I place reality in a different perspective by creating a ‘hyperreality’ of sorts. A place where a sense of wonder is still allowed. I question reality, I question our usefulness and artificiality in our lives. It’s an existentialist journey perhaps. It’s about finding meaning.

So I have come full circle now. It took me some time to figure it out…. but finally I’m at that same ‘place’ when I was eleven years old. The only difference is that I have a few years of life experience that I can put into an image. My search for wonder continues, but now I have a medium to accompany me on my inner travels.

The making of a commercial still part 7

Well this is it! The experiment is over……at last  I’ve finished my bottle.

My goal was to make a photorealistic image of a perfume bottle (that I have at home) just using an open source and freely available 3D program called Blender.  Not only should it be photorealistic, it was supposed to look glossy, like the ads you see in magazines.

It was quite a journey…

– First I made the wireframe of the bottle. This means that you have to draw the shape of the bottle.  Next I placed the virtual lights and gave the model its material (glass and plastic).

So far so good, but I wanted to add that ‘something extra’. I decided to add a water splash. This is very common in commercial photography, but alas, the water simulation in Blender was nice, but not realistic enough for my taste. Being reluctant to drop the water theme, I had to think of something different. So I placed the bottle in the middle of the ocean. Although it looked nice (at least that was what I thought), I was getting further away of the glossy magazine look. Also a bottle cannot stand upright in the sea, unless it has divine properties so to speak.

It didn’t make any sense, really. To make it worse,  I have to take a real photograph of the bottle so that I can compare the two images. There was no way I could replicate the photograph in real life (well I could, but I have to a photograph at full sea, at dawn with studio lights and  a platform just below sea level where I can put the bottle on).  Therefore I decided to go back to basic and created a virtual studio environment. I used a reflective surface and let the lighting do the trick. That’s it! You can see the result below. What do you think? Is it photorealistic?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I also tried two freely available external render: “yafaray and Luxrender”. On their websites you can see some amazing images. I really I think they are promising render engines that integrate with Blender really well. But it’s not for me (just yet). They are both much slower than the Blender render engine (Cycles) and more difficult to set up. Luxrender was the most problematic.  Sometimes it rendered an image but sometimes it didn’t. A bit hit and mis. Probably it is something I am not doing right, but I still have to figure out what that might be.  I also found Yafaray too ‘techical’ to set up. I just want to hit the ‘render’ button and see the image appear, instead of setting up Photon maps and AA passes and what not. This is terminology a photographer doesn’t understand. Not really user friendly in my opninion. But hey it’s free and the results (when you got your chops down at least) are really terriffic, so I’m not complaining.

So what’s next? Well nothing really, this is it. I’ll make a real photograph in the future to see how it compares to the fake one, but that’s for another blog.

If you want to give it a go yourself, you can download Blender, Luxrender and Yafaray here:

http://www.blender.org/

http://www.yafaray.org/

http://www.luxrender.net

 

See you next time…

The making of a commercial still part 6

Welcome to part 6 already of “How to make a commercial still”.

I’d like to think that I’m almost there, but I’m not sure.

Last week, my splash experiment was a bit of a dissapointment. It was impossible to make a realistic water splash with the build-in fluid simulator in Blender. Of course, I could sculpt the water splash so that it looked like the real deal. But to be honest I’m not that good in sculpting and I haven’t got the patience for it. So it was time to go another route completely.

Instead of trying to create a ‘studio look’, I’m now taking it outdoors,  into nature, so to speak.  Not being able to let go of the ‘water theme’, I’ve placed the bottle on in the middle of the ocean, while you are staring into the sunset. And yes it doesn’t make any sense, but it’s not supposed to…;-)

The ocean is made with the so called ocean simulator. As for the sky, well I’ve cheated (again)…It’s actually a holiday photograph that I took, while I was standing in the Namib dessert in Africa. I don’t think there’s an easy way to create photorealistic skies in Blender (like I did with the ocean), so I took a photograph out of my own library and set this up to act as a gigantic lightsource in Blender. Doing so, the background gives these nice reflections on the water and  into the glass of the bottle. A nice purple orange kind of glow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think I like the image as it is. But I’m not sure what to make of the “Devine” floating property of the bottle? I tried to place the bottle on top of a rock, but that looked silly. Shall I leave the image as it is, or shall I try to make it look like the image obeys the laws of nature?

Apart from that, there are still some things to do, that can change the look of the image considerably. Change the color of the sky for example:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Small changes, big differences. So

This is it for now, I’ll experiment a bit more and next blog l hope I will finish it.

 

 

 

The making of a commercial still part 5

Hello and welcome to part five of “the making of a commercial still”.

Last time I was really excited because I discovered a feature in Blender called “the fluid simulator”. I had seen a couple of demos and it looked really promising. I  envisioned the perfume bottle surrounded by all sorts of water splashes, giving it that really slick look.

So last week I fiddled with the settings and generated dozens of splashes. Big ones, small ones, a lot of drops, few drops etc. I’ve dropped all sorts of objects in virtual water, just to see what kind of effect it had. Actually what you do is, you make a small little animation (about one second) of an object hitting the water. The program calculates each frame, one by one. At the end you can select which frame you are going to use for the image still. This is a really time consuming process. To generate a high resolution splash, you have to let the computer render overnight.

And the results were…..to be really honest…..a little disappointing!

Although it generates all sorts of splashes, it doesn’t look realistic enough, to my taste.

I’ve included two photo’s so you can see for yourselves:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have set the fluid to act like water (oil is a possibility too), but it doesn’t look like water to me. It has a plastic, or glue-ish kinda feel to it. I don’t know what it is? Not only that, but it generates all sorts of weird artefacts. You can see in the upper picture that the small droplets have these black ‘things’ around them. Like there is some bug in the program.

Anyway, I don’t consider this to usable for realistic and commercial use.

So it’s back to the drawing board. First I have to think about how pimp this image in another way.

Next time you will see the results.

2012 International Photography Awards

Yes!!! I am very proud to announce that I have received four honorable mentions for three series of photographs from the International Photography Awards. There were over 18.000 entries from professional photographers around the globe.

You can read it in the following press release:

2012 International Photography Awards Announces Winners of the Competition

Edgar Verhoeven was awarded in the International Photography Awards Competition. International Photography Awards (IPA) has announced the winners of 2012’s competition.
Edgar Verhoeven was Awarded:

Honorable Mention in Fine Art – Portrait category for the winning entry”Commodification.”.

– Honorable Mention in Fine Art – Collage category for the winning entry“The great Outdoors.”

-Honorable Mention in Advertising – Product category for the winning entry “Appliance.”

Honorable Mention in Fine Art – Collage category for the winning entry”Appliance.”

ABOUT Winner:
I have graduated in June 2012 at the Photo Academy in the Netherlands. I make pictures of my imagination. Sometimes I use a camera and sometimes I don’t. I ‘bend’ reality and create a place where our environment is not rational or self evident. I believe we live in a world where efficiency and productivity are considered to be among the highest virtues in our consumption society. We conform to the expectations that society demands en trust that progress and technology (or scientific thought) will give us all the answers in life. That’s true to a certain extent, but there is also a downside. We also live in a world where religion, spirituality or nature play a secondary role. Reality is served in easy to digest pieces of information that we can consume. But at what cost? Perhaps our soul? Or our natural resources? How many people feel there’s something missing in their rich and comfortable lives or at work? Is there a paradox, that with an increase in technological communication like social media, there is also an increase in loneliness? We communicate more, but perhaps the quality of communication is less? Can we only look in a rational way at our world? Or is there still some mystery left? I ask myself these questions and look in wonder….. Edgar Verhoeven

ABOUT IPA:
The 2012 International Photography Awards received nearly 18,000 submissions from 104 countries across the globe. The Foundation’s mission is to honor master photographers, to discover new and emerging talent and to promote the appreciation of photography. Since 2003, IPA has had the privilege and opportunity to acknowledge and recognize contemporary photographer’s accomplishments in this specialized and highly visible competition. Visit www.photoawards.com

Contact:
Edgar Verhoeven:
info@edgarverhoeven.com
https://www.edgarverhoeven.com

IPA Contact
Jade Tran
Competition Director
International Photography Awards
jtran@iawardsinc.com

 

 

Dreaming with the camera

The following is a post written by Rommert Boonstra, a Dutch photographer and poet. He is known to be the one of the founders of imaginative photography in the Netherlands.

The post below is written in Dutch.

 

DROMEN MET DE CAMERA.

Over de wereld doen twee geruchten de ronde. Het ene luidt dat het einde der tijden nabij is en het andere dat we een gouden toekomst tegemoet gaan.
Een gouden toekomst vol ondergang en verval zou misschien een goed compromis zijn.
Blijft de vraag- Is er vooruitgang? Of gaan we met bekwame spoed achteruit? Lopen we hard of lopen we dood?

Er zijn in de geschiedenis van de wereld 39 Ferrarari’s 250 GTO geproduceerd. Ze gaan een stuk sneller dan de strijdwagen waarin Ben Hur zich verplaatste. Dat zou vooruitgang kunnen zijn. Behalve als je door zo’n Ferrari op topsnelheid geschept wordt. Voor de paarden had je misschien nog weg kunnen springen.

Ik heb ook bij de plofkip naar positieve ontwikkelingen geïnformeerd, bij een depressieve wegsmeltend ijskap, bij de glorieus oprukkende Sahel woestijn en bij een geleerde die net duizelig uit de deeltjesversneller tevoorschijn kwam. De antwoorden waren zeer divers.

Het grote voordeel van ondergang en verval is in ieder geval dat ze heilzaam zijn voor de kunst. Zie het prachtige werk van Edgar Verhoeven. Het sombere en het hilarische gaan hand in hand. Als we ten onder gaan, dan gaan we in ieder geval vol vrolijke verbazing ten onder.

If you are interested in Rommert Boonstra’s work, see the following link:

http://http://www.rommertboonstra.nl

From the vault: Classic Club Night

These were photographs for a project called “Classic Club Night”. This is an event where classical music meets urban music. It is a fun idea that the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra expand their classical horizon to melt it with some underground music.

So here they are:

 

 

 

 

True Feelings

I’ve added three more pictures to my portfolio. You’ve probably seen one of these already in another picture. If you look closely on the “Commodification”  series, you can see two billboards (in the tunnel) with two photographs of Barbie dolls. You can consider them as pictures in pictures.

I thought it was nice to give those photographs a platform of their own. So you can see them more up and close.

To me Barbie en Ken symbolise the beauty ideal in western society. They represent the image of how a perfect woman or man should look and how they should feel, in a state of eternal happiness. And we are taught this lesson at a very young age.

There are actually people who want to look like Barbie. In Holland we even have a reality tv show, about a dutch woman, who calls herself Barbie and looks like…..well a Barbie. She is famous because she wants to be a real life copy of a doll!

Well this is an exception you say? Most people are ‘normal’ right? Well even if this is the case and this ideal is not realistic, somehow in our subconscious we believe that we should strive to achieve this ideal. We are surrounded by magazines, billboards, tv commercials, screaming at us what this ideal should be. There is no escaping. The women on the cover of glossy’s have all been photoshopped and manipulated to show something that isn’t there in real life. Sometimes they almost take away that what makes a person human. They resemble almost something of a doll. We all know that. Rationally we know this. But it leaves us with some sort of strange paradox.

We have some deep internalized notions about beauty, about perfection but when you look into a mirror, you see that you cannot live up to that expectation. But some people do feel some sort of let down, when they look into that mirror.  To me that is crazy!

So this is where my idea came from, about making Barbie a less unrealistic creature. To use photoshop to make the super model of all super models a little less perfect instead of achieving perfection. To do the opposite of what people use photoshop for. I made her a bit more flawed, gave her some ‘real emotions’. That way the ideal, becomes perhaps less ideal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Photography

A change is gonna come!

Photography is easy. No really…..I actually think that taking photographs is one of the most easy things to do. You point your camera (or phone) at a person/ object and push the button. That’s it! And you have an instant piece of reality frozen in time, at your disposal. Upload it to your social media of choice and you even have an audience of potentially millions of people. Peace of cake! My grandmother could do it, without any training. Well if she still would be alive that is. Actually billions of people do this on a daily base.

Hhhmmmmm…there must be a catch right?

Well what if you want to take pictures of ‘things’ that don’t exist. That only float around as a rudimentary vision in your brain? Where do you point your camera at? When are you going to press the button? When is the elusive decisive moment?

There is still some mystery left in this world and if you look carefully there is also some amazement to be experienced. But you have to look beyond the photograph as a document. Now that’s hard! To unveil a piece of (un)reality that you cannot take for granted. But still, there are some photographers who actually do just this.

This is where the book “Beyond Photography” comes in.

This book is a summary of 42 photographers in the Netherlands and Belgium who embrace imaginative photography for the last thirty years. It counts 280 pages and the book also contains four essays that discuss the theme “beyond photography”.  The limits of photography are being examined and stretched. The result are images that reach beyond the pure photographical. It’s a must read!

To me this book is rather special, because there are a whole lot of books that discuss documentary photography, but almost none that deal with imaginative photography. I think it’s time for something new.

Wait…can you hear that? Listen carefully…. a change is gonna come.

 

From the vault: Impossible figures

I thought it might be nice to show some experiments and other stuff ‘from the vault’ that actually I didn’t intend to show. But on the other hand….what the heck?

This one is an oldie! I’ve always been impressed by Escher. So one day I decided to try to base one my photo’s on his impossible figures. And here’s the result:

 

You can see on the wall the original Escher painting I was trying to emulate.

Perhaps I will incorporate some Escher impossible figures into my photography one day, but I’m a bit hesitant, because his style is so well known it will perhaps overshadow the things I’m trying to say. What do you think?

 

 

You’re a fake….part 2

Here are the results from last weeks’ Blog.

The question was if you could tell which images were photographed and which images were ‘ fake’ or computer generated images (CGI).

Well I’ve been cheating a little bit. Actually all images were generated by the computer and none of them were photographed! I’ve included some images that had an overtly processed look and included some that looked realistic (to me at least).

If you could tell that all the images were fake, you have to tell me how you did it….Some of those images are so convincing to me, that it opens op some philosophical discussions about the nature of reality.

There’s a saying: “the camera never lies”. The use of Photoshop has changed this perspective on how we look at photographs and the manipulation of photographs. But what if the photograph isn’t manipulated at all, but wasn’t taken in the first place? What does that say? I’ll save this discussion for another time.

But for now, I promised to tell you who made the computer generated images. And here’s the list:

 

Image 1:

Artist: “Abner”

Software: Blender/ Yafaray

Image 2:

Artist: Andrew Price

Software: Blender

 

Image 3:

artist: Hervé Steff

Software: Maxwell Render

Image 4:

Artist: “Sadaj72”

Software: Blender/ Luxrender

Image 5:

Artist: Dan Abrams

Software: Maxwell Render

 

Image 6:

 

Artist: Linus Schneider

Software: Maxwell Render

 

You’re a fake….

Lately I’ve been experimenting with 3D rendering and how to combine this with photography.

I use an open source program for my 3D experiments called  ‘Blender’. I have to say this is a really wonderful program. Although I cannot compare it to other professional 3D packages out there, because I haven’t used them, it’s a really powerful tool that can produce photo realistic images.

Photo realism you say? Well yes……if you are really good 3D rendering that is. This raises some philosophical questions, that I will discuss another other time, but for now I’d like to present you with a quiz. Can you determine which of these next five images are real photographs or are 3D renders? Which images are the fake photographs?  I will give you the answer next time, but for now:

 

Image 1:

 

Image 2:

 

Image 3:

 

Image 4:

 

Image 5:

 

Image 6:

 

If you know which images are real, post the answer in a comment below. Next week I’ll give you the answers and the people who made these images.

Michael Freeman’s: The Photographer’s Eye

Michael Freeman is a british photographer who specializes in Asian culture, architecture and archeology. He has worked for major international book publishers and magazines. He has also worked for the Smithsonian Magazine for more than three decades and published more than 40 assignment stories.

Not only is he a well known photographer but he is also a writer and journalist. His books contain photographs of himself, but he also writes on the subject of photography. One of these books is “The Photographer’s Eye” that I will discuss in this blog.

Very often you’ll find books that describe the technical aspects of the camera. Sort of ‘how to use’ books. Things like:

  • What kind of lens should you use
  • The effects of aperture and shutter speed
  • Color balance
  • The use of of camera flash light
  • etc.

 

This is all very useful stuff, but you rarely ever see books that focus on the less technical aspects of photography like for example, composition. It takes more than sharp focus and correct lighting to turn ordinary photographs into something special. So what does it take to take a good photograph? Although this is a question that cannot be answered so easily, if it can be answered at all, Michael Freeman does a good job in describing the basic principles of good composition. He gives insights into:

  • How to frame the image
  • Design principles like balance and tension in the framing
  • Viewing lines
  • Rhythm in the image
  • Color in composition
  • Perspective and depth
  • Intention of a photograph

The book tells you how to take better photographs. A framework of composition ideas if you will, that you can use to your own liking. These aren’t hard rules or anything, but it will make your understanding of what makes a picture work, larger. There’s also a chapter dedicated to the process in taking pictures, with cases studies.

 

I think this book fills a gap on the market and is a very good step into taking good photographs.

The only thing I was missing was how compositional rules contribute to the ideas that you want to communicate. A technically correct picture is a beginning, a good composition makes the photograph more powerful. But a photograph that conveys a specific idea or concept takes photography to another level. Perhaps I will save this subject for another blog, but in the meantime, I would like to know what you think that makes a good photograph?

Camera secrets: how to photograph a reflective surface?

Suppose you want to photograph an object that is a mirror of some sorts?  Especially metallic objects that are curved, like a chrome vase, are hard to photograph. See the next example:

fig.1 picture of a chrome vase

This is a picture of vase that I took,  that actually reflects the complete surroundings of the studio, but you don’t see it. So what’s the trick?

 

The trick:

There are two ways you can do this:

  1. 1. Use photoshop
  2. 2. Use a technical camera

No photoshopping this time!

For this picture I’ve used a technical camera. This is a special camera that allows you to change the plane of focus or perspective. You can move the front and back side of the camera independent from each other. It’s called rise, fall and shift. You can also change the angle of the front and back sides of the camera. This is called, tilt and swing. What is does is that

fig2: a technical camera

First you need a totally dark studio. So that the vase is only reflecting darkness, or (almost) pure black. When you place the lights and the reflection screens, it will only reflect these and of course the camera and photographer. Next thing you do is wear black clothes, so you’ll blend in with the dark surroundings. I didn’t go so far to out to put on a black forage cap. But if you’re really into it, you can do that 😉

So now the vase is reflecting a white screen on the left side. On the right side of the vase there is no light. The further you go to the right, the light gradually reduces strength and it  turns to black. From behind I placed a rim light to accentuate the shape of the vase.

If I would use a ‘normal’ dslr camera, than I would see myself and my camera exactly in the middle of the vase. No matter from what angle I will take the picture, I will always see myself reflected in the middle of it, because the vase has a sphere like shape at the base. Here’s where the ethnical camera comes in. It has a neat little trick.

 

You can shift the front side of the camera, so that the perspective changes:

 

In doing so, I can shift the reflection of myself and the camera to the right, in the dark parts of the vase. Because I’m wearing black clothes you won’t see me reflected!

 

 

Please give me your comments..