Finding beauty photos in the macabre - Part Two
This is a sad story that resulted in some more still life photos centred around the death of a bird.
Throughout the spring of lockdown 2020 I had worked very hard to create a safe space for birds in my garden and hung out bird feeders, put up nesting boxes and made sure there was water in the bird bath. We were visited by some Cole Tits who took up home in one of the nesting boxes and the weeks passed and we had some chicks who fledged the nest.
We were enjoying them in the garden fluttering around and growing rapidly when suddenly I heard a thud. I went to see what the noise was and lying on the floor was one of the baby birds, lifeless and still. I was shocked, it had flown into the kitchen window, not seconds ago it was bouncing around in the trees with its siblings.
A photo opportunity
As sad as it was the bird has just commuted suicide flying directly into the window I decided I would make the most of its death and use the little bird in some photos.
I had really enjoyed creating the still life photos with the black bird so decided this was the approach I would take again.
The garage was once again converted into a make shift studio and the lights were set up in the same way I had photographed the black bird.
There was a gridded soft box to camera left, reflectors to camera right and I did also attempt to diffuse the natural sunlight coming through the garage, to see if I could create the photos without using the flash.
A woman of moods
Looking through my old books I came across one book titled "A woman of moods" and a passage stood out to me.
"And now the spirit of the wicked White Lady haunts the castle, and has done for many a day, until her wretched spirit is set free by some enormous piece of self-sacrifice being imposed willingly on the owner of the place or their belongings"
Perhaps the little bird had in-fact been a sacrifice which was talked about in the passage. If this wasn't the case it was still a good place to start in constructing my still life.
As with the previous still life I wanted to try and convey a feeling that these photos were timeless in their appearance and I wanted everything to be in focus, so I would need to employ the focus stacking technique again to achieve this.
I had learnt a lot on how to improve this technique since I last did it, so the camera was firmly planted on a tripod with added weight to the bottom so it didn't move.
When Photoshop creates the blend there is quite a lot of the edge of the image which turns out blurry and needs cropping off, so when I was framing my composition I needed to take into consideration. I would loose perhaps 3% of the image around the edge.
As you can see in the above image the camera was set to take sixty individual photos in order to make the one single, final photo.
The first composition I tired, was using some old keys with the dead roses I had dried out. My idea was perhaps these were the keys to the castle mentioned in the book but I think they looked too modern .
The detail of the image was amazing once I got it into photoshop, but I didn't feel the Cole Tit was clearly seen, you could not see the amazing colours of its belly and so I went back to the set up to try again.
I did like how the beak was pointing to the line "I hope her poor soul will be released."
The second set up required me to completely deconstruct the props and go for a more face on view. I wanted to see if I could use the books to lead the eye around the picture and bring texture into the image with the use of the flowers and some garden foliage.
I loved the way the light was falling on this set up and the bird casted a shadow upon the book. You could see some of the yellow around its neck and it felt like it had more depth to the image.
I still wanted to see if I could improve so I started to alter the composition of the elements in the image. They were only subtle changes like changing the background books or opening up pages but I wanted to keep working on the image until I was happy.
Bird position two
In this one I moved the bird onto its side so you could see more of the yellow belly. It felt very odd moving this dead little creature into different positions, but if I could capture one good image at least its life will live on in a photo.
I changed the background book and tried to have the pages of one book falling open. The idea was to lead you to the book in the background which was about birds in folk tales.
This technique is so time consuming but the detail is just mind blowing.
Bird position three
With the final set in this series I moved the bird onto its side and added more roses in the top right. These were only little changes and they do all look very similar but sometimes its the small cha