HOLYWOOD AND MY REFRIGERATOR by Thomas Herbrich
Today I want to speak about a big production, which I made free of commission. A
new version of “The Isle of the Death”. This is a famous painting by Arnold Bocklin
from the year 1893.
What I didn’t want, though, was a mere copy – it should serve as an example on
which to build new ideas. I love turning things around, shifting meanings. If Bocklin’s
“Isle of the Dead” symbolises a large burial chamber, then I wanted to find a
counterpoint, and what could be more to the contrary than a jingling merry-goround
and a balloon seller?
How to do such a photo? It’s a mixture
of Hollywood-like techniques – and
simple tricks. First, we built an almost(!)
exact miniature model of the island.
A perfect reproduction would have
turned it into a “find the 10 differences”
picture … not what I had in mind! We
spent nine days working on the model
of the rocks. It is made by Styrofoam
and is coated with cement.
As I couldn’t find any
cedar trees like the ones
in the original, I took pictures
of some poplars and
“cedared” them with the
aid of image processing.
In the original, a boat is
moving towards the island,
so my idea was for
a balloon-selling page
– and who better for the
role than Markus? – to
be sailing away from the
island. The only hitch
was finding a suitable
wooden boat, because
here we have only glassfiber
boats. I was lucky – I
found one in a souvenir
shop, a little model of
Finding a merry-go-round was the next
challenge. I spent ages searching for
something suitable, and finally found
one in Paris. However, once it was
edited into the picture I realised that
it was far too pompous and practically
eclipsed the other elements. I
finally found what I was looking for at
a historical fair: a small, cosy, steamdriven
merry-go-round. Perfect! I had
to improve that photo a lot, see the
Markus is a
as the balloon
Now the photo was nearly finished, but I needed the reflection of the entire scene
in the water! We have software for producing this effect, but it is not good enough
for my needs. And here comes a very simple tool, to get the perfect reflection in
the water: my refrigerator! Most of the refrigerators have a sheet of “ribbled” glass
in the bottom (how is yours?).
I put this sheet of glass on a black paper in front of my monitor (if you try this,
take care of not damaging the monitor screen!). The “Island of the Death” scene
reflected perfectly in the sheet of glass. I only had to photograph it with a high
f-stop (f22, because it is a macro shot and I wanted to have everything sharp).
I love those simple tricks!
Let there be Light!