I just finished watching the trailer for "Tim's Vermeer," a new Penn & Teller film. I guess I am not the only one who loves Vermeer's work. In looking at the movie trailer, for what looks like a totally awesome movie, I was reminded of this post, which I originally posted a few years ago. It's still timely. Check it out.
One of my favorite paintings is, "Girl with a Pearl Earring" by the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer. The painting has been referred to as, "The Mona Lisa of the North." Hey, I like it even better than the Mona Lisa.
One of my favorite movies is "Girl with a Pearl Earring," starring Scarlett Johansson.
Both the painting and the movie inspired my "Girl with a Pearl Earring - The Photograph" shoot.
I wanted to recreate the lighting and look and feel of the portrait with my digital camera and bit of Photoshop work. I made the portrait in my office. I don't have a studio, but I turned my office into one in about 15 minutes.
Here are some behind-the-scenes shots and a bit about what went into making the photograph – which was a ton of fun, by the way!
The first step was to get the props - two scarfs from Macy's. My niece, Brooke (a very, very new mom!) taught my wife, Susan, how to wrap the scarfs. We had a print-out of the painting on hand for guidance.
Before my model, Maggie (my neighbor's daughter) showed up, I set up a very basic lighting system. One Canon 580EX II Speedlite in a Westcott Apollo soft box. I fired the flash with my Canon ST-E2 Wireless transmitter. I shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 100mm lens.
I shot tethered, using Canon Digital Photo Processional to see my pictures on my MacBook Pro. The Beatles looked on, from a poster I got in 1967 - I think. I had a print attached to the soft box, and one next to my computer, for guidance.
When Maggie arrived, another neighbor's daughter, Zoe, helped with the wardrobe. Again, a print of the painting was on hand for guidance.
It was finally time to shoot! My wife, Susan, helped set up the shot, while Zoe held a Westcott black panel on the opposite side of the soft box to deaden the light.
I only took 25 pictures of Maggie. Having my light set up – and tested – in advance reduced the number of variables. The entire shoot took less than 1.5 hours.
I did a bit of work in Photoshop: cropping, increasing the contrast, dodging the earring, and using the Color Replacement brush to change some of the colors in the image. I spent maybe one hour in Photoshop.
We had a blast making the photograph. And, my friends, here is perhaps the most important tips when it comes to portraiture: Make it fun for your subject.
What really makes this image so cool is Maggie. Never underestimate the importance of a good model - and the right model. I knew Maggie was perfect for the part.
Here the gear I used:
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 580EX II Speedlite (I now use Canon 600EX RT speedlites and ST-E3 Speedlite tranmitter)
Canon 100mm lens
Black Panel in Westcott 6-1 Kit
All my gear is listed on My Gear page.
For cool digital effects, including skin softening, check out Topaz Adjust. Info on my Plug-ins page.
Explore the light,