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  1. #1
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    How to photograph Hindu Deities

    Here's a story from NPR about a photographer that shoots large format for her projects.

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/pictureshow...-hindu-deities

    They look painterly, but no computers were used.

  2. #2
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    I'm not very convinced. The article says:

    It involved set and prop builders, makeup artists, painters, carpenters and jewelry experts. And when everything was finally in place, Sharma captured the scene with a large-format film camera.


    I am respectfully skeptical. The lotus has a lighting which IMHO does not match with the shade just behind the left knee of Lakshmi (deity which was always transliterated like that, why Laxmi now? Or even worse laxmi? Any transliteration works the same?). Besides that, finding a model with four arms must have been quite a problem. And the coins do not project a shade and are quite evidently pasted on the scene, especially the coin on Lakshmi's hand, or the coins on the lower leaves of the lotus. I think you can go on forever.

    There's a lot of collage in this work which is perfectly fine (and inescapable the day she'll portray Ganesh) but I don't understand why this absurd claiming that all the scene is recreated at once. It seems to me that it's many pieces worked one by one and then glued together. You can do this with entirely analogue means, or you can do it with hybrid means, digital post-production. Nothing wrong with that, at all. I would avoid marketing BS though. If it's a collage, say it's a collage.

    The diffident person inside me says it's digital post-production as it would be quite boring and difficult to do a stack of several frames: the third and fourth arms, Lakshmi, the lotus, the coins make for at least four frames, supposing you get all the coins right in one frame.

    If I'm wrong, please do enlighten me, I would like to actually be wrong on this bad thought.
    Last edited by Diapositivo; 07-28-2011 at 02:43 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  3. #3

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    They look painterly, but no computers were used.[/QUOTE]

    Doesn't say in the article if computers were or were not used. Looks like it was easily shot in camera though maybe the coins were an addition. Four armed models are a piece of cake. I'm so stupid that in small publicity shots I saw on line for Wim Wenders new film on Pina Bausch, I assumed the muscular dancer was just that. A very strong ballerina with biceps like Stallone. Seeing the shot in more detail or the scene in the film made it all a bit more apparent.
    http://www.list.co.uk/article/33442-...umentary-pina/

    Great film but not sure the 3D was essential.

  4. #4
    Diapositivo's Avatar
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    Mike, I agree the four arms could be done traditionally, actually nice shot you linked , but the Indian stuff it's all too strange. Besides the anomalous coins, the photographer should have used very many light sources so as to create this "unreal" light effect.

    For instance, the vase is lit with a "flat", frontal light source, slightly from above, which doesn't reach the inner arm of the model, not to mention the black hole behind it (on the other side, you see the cyan background, on this side you see a suspect black hole, but that could be, maybe, the belt falling from behind the shoulder, not that I believe that). Was the light source so clear cut to end at the vase edge? Was the front light which lightens the trunk of the deity so clear cut not to shed any light under her armpit?

    There is no shadow under the nose, but there are shadows over the eyes (in the orbits) and under the chin.

    The belly is in full light, but the lower right arm (to our left) is strangely in shade. The coin a few centimetres in front of the arm is in full light.

    The entire edge of contact between deity and vase is in a circular dark shade, while 1 cm in front you have a very bright light on the red tissue. I tell you, that vase is quite suspect

    The shades are most suspect, in general. That strong light over the big lotus petal tips is not coherent with the rest of the scene.

    I can pretend to believe that the white edge on the small lotus flowers (in the third and fourth hands) is actually on the object and is not supposed to be created by a light effect (like on the big lotus). But the big lotus is shown on us in another picture, and it has no white tips, that's a light effect (real or virtual).

    On the elephants, the typical digital highlights clipping was very well simulated on film

    It all seems to me a clear example of unrealistic "photoshopping". I would rate probabilities this stuff is heavily manipulated above 90%.
    Fabrizio Ruggeri fine art photography site: http://fabrizio-ruggeri.artistwebsites.com
    Stock images at Imagebroker: http://www.imagebroker.com/#/search/ib_fbr

  5. #5
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    The coins could be dummied up with Spider Wire then jangled to create the illusion of movement, moments before the shutter is released.
    (Spider Wire is very thin Kevlar thread, thinner than monofilament fishing line and virtually invisible at a distance. Magicians use it to make things appear to float in midair.)

    The arms can be faked using a telephoto lens to compress perspective. I think compression of perspective would be appropriate for such a surreal photograph, anyway.

    I agree with the others. The lighting looks fake. The overall image is flat but the elephants are blown out and shadows are absent where they should be but present where they should not be.

    Seems to me that this is a bad job of digitizing film or else it's a digi-pic... still done badly.

    To me a surreal scene as this would either need to have soft focus all over or be razor sharp. I see neither. That kind of blows the illusion for me.
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  6. #6
    zsas's Avatar
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    I once saw some kind of website called Error Level Analysis that does, as it explains: "Error level analysis can help you work out if a photo has been digitally altered".

    I had the error level analyzer do what I quoted above from their site by linking to the NPR photo and then have it analyze it.

    Below are the results. I have no idea how to read them....anyone ever done this before? I once was reading a blog where someone was convinced a photo was altered and he/she fed the image into the error level analyzer and made some conclusion. I find it like looking at Hubble's images...


    http://errorlevelanalysis.com/permalink/84ea729/

    So the image could very well be 100% un-altered or altered...I am making no judgment nor do I make any claim that the above site is the end all be all of finding out if something has been altered or not.

    To compare the above, I tried an experiment, I found a photo that was used in a Photo$hop free online tutorial website and analyzed it. The blur was added in post, here are its results....
    http://errorlevelanalysis.com/permalink/06ad8b7/

    Ultimately, I dont really conclude anything...heck a straight negative scan of mine I did below and it makes no sense to me....

    http://errorlevelanalysis.com/permalink/7c57034/

  7. #7

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    I'm not sure the error level analyzer can prove anything, simply because we don't know how much digital postprocessing may have happened to the image in prep for the NPR article, apart from anything done or not done by the photographer herself.

    She does talk about film in terms of "chasing perfection in one image", which suggests (but doesn't actually say) no stacking.

    Lots of light sources, certainly, but I don't find the lighting as anomalous as some others have said. To me it looks like the dominant light source is in the upper left foreground (accounting for the shadow under the model's right arm, the circular shadow of the vase, and the shadow of the nose), and I don't immediately see anything that's obviously inconsistent with that. I'm not a lighting expert or anything, mind.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  8. #8

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    First of all, thank you for posting this. Friday is the day of Lakshmi, and hence, wealth. Today is also my pay day so imagine how pleasantly surprised I was seeing this early in the morning.

    When I first saw the title, I thought the OP wanted to know the rules etc. on shooting in temples here. Oh well...

    I won't go into the technical details because I know zilch compared to what's already been discussed.

    That said, the photographer wanted to evokoe the experience of a Hindu temple. For me, it didn't work.
    Mainly because I think the model is too aware of the setup in which she's placed and that shows on her face. I think this expression is less 'karuna' and more 'what is all this around me?'

    Gods in Hinduism are both present in their surroundings and at the same time detached from them. Like a lotus which grows in the marsh and yet floats above it.

    "I saw spiritual paintings and sculptures of deities everywhere ... but never a photograph..."

    'Knowing' that they're looking at a photograph of a woman in costume sort of prevents the devotees from seeing her as Lakshmi the goddess.
    When it's a painting, it's easy to believe that the painter has either imagined or had a 'vision' of the goddess. On a spiritual level that makes more sense to me.

    Moreover, her statement is not entirely correct. Hindus believe kids are a form of God and often you'll see kids dressed as various kinds of Gods.

    Cheers,
    Som

  9. #9
    markbarendt's Avatar
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    I can see where this all can be done in one frame nicely.

    With regard to the coins we need to remember that we only have to deal with 2D perspective.

    With regard to the "fake" lighting, this is a studio set, almost anything is possible and it is fake by definition. There could be any number of lights in play many of those could be highly focused.

    The intent wasn't to create something that mimicked reality.
    Mark Barendt, Beaverton, OR

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  10. #10
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    Nice photograph, no matter how it was done, but I can't help wishing that it were tack sharp from corner to corner. Surely with so much lighting she could've arranged for that. Another 2 stops down is all it would've taken.
    Jim

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