APS Behind the Lens: Orphelia
Being a creative photographer isn’t easy, but being the model for a creative photographer even less so.
In 2021, one of the set subjects for my camera club competition was “Replication” where we had to photographically replicate a famous artwork.
Never one to do things the easy way, I decided to replicate one of my favourite paintings from the Pre-Raphaelite period, “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais. I talked my daughter Michelle into being my model and my friend Sandra made Ophelia’s dress. That was the easy part.
I had to come up with a way to immerse my model in water without physically throwing her into a lake - Bunnings to the rescue!
I purchased a large but shallow paddling pool, set it up on my verandah, and lined it with black cloth.
With the pool three-quarters full I had my model lie down in it. Michelle wasn’t very keen as the water was cold, but sacrifices must be made for art. Then, I placed a combination of real and fake flowers around her, which were as close as I could find to those in the painting.
As the pool itself was low sided I was able to shoot to achieve a similar angle to the one in the original by Millais. I took as many shots as I could before she started to get too cold, and then, when my model had gone inside for a hot shower, I took some more images of flowers in the water and some fake moss I had purchased as well.
I also placed the dress and some extra Tulle in the water, and took some more images of those as well, as I knew I would need to ‘build’ the dress up a bit in post. From there, I shot some images of flowers, shrubs and tree trunks etc. from my garden to form the background.
To create the final image, I started with an image of a lake I had taken previously and began to blend in the images I had taken in my garden to form the background for the final image. I then added Ophelia, some extra components to the dress, and the flowers, moss, and reeds in the water. The next step was to create all the water reflections, from the bank of the lake, and the flowers in the water - at one point I was working with 50 layers in Photoshop. The final step was to colour grade the image to get it as close to the original as possible.
All-in-all this image took me about 35 hours to complete, I’d like to think that Millais would be happy with the result! ❂