Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Photographing Albert

I inherited a hundred-year-old unfinished oil painting of my Grandfather Albert, who died at age 36.

I never knew him, but you probably guessed that...

His painting has been lurking in our basement, mainly to frighten burglars.

But we brought him out recently, when a family member enquired about him.
And realized we did not have a photograph.
Cleaned the frame & glass, then took a photograph.

Except no - too many reflections in the glass, of course!
Even if you manage not to get reflections of the surroundings, you always get reflections of the photographer.
Or at least of the camera, hand, arm...

The only way (so far) of avoiding a camera reflection is to stand off-axis, just enough that the camera does not see itself in the mirror.

But you still see windows, wallpaper, clouds or whatever.

So we invented this method:

- Veranda with translucent roof for diffused lighting
- Albert with long side on ground, inclining towards camera
- Small trusty assistant, very huddled, controlling inclination
- Long black cloth on ground
- Black backdrop
- Camera off-axis
The anxious photographer instructs the huddled assistant to adjust Albert's inclination until he only sees the (invisible) reflection of the black cloth on the screen.

Yes - but the result is trapezoidal, obviously.
Perspective, innit?

Enter PhotoShop.
Or, in my case, the Linux free equivalent - Gimp.
I loath Gimp as having the most user-unfriendly interface I ever saw, but it does the job.
You can distort trapezoids to near-enough rectangles with only mind-blowing difficulty & frustration.

So there we are.

Ah - why an unfinished portrait?
Would you believe the artist was run over by a tram?

Parting thot: "A picture is worth a thousand words." - Napoleon Bonaparte

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