Natascha aka “The girl with the pearl earing”

Last week I was in the studio with Natascha to finally start a project I have wanted to do for a long long time. To re shoot classic painted portraits mostly from the Dutch and Flemish golden age of painting. My First attempt was to shoot the girl with the pear earring by Johannes Vermeer.

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I chose this image to start with for several reasons, first off because I love this painting but also because it a reality simple starting point only needing a very large soft-box and very few props. Normally I don’t spend a lot of time on post production (I like to get it my final image as close as I in camera) but to get the results I was looking for with at slight melon collie look and tones I  needed to do more post production than I normally would . The original image is a “tronie”, the Dutch 17th-century description of a ‘head’ that was not meant to be a portrait. After the most recent restoration of the painting in 1994, the subtle colour scheme and the intimacy of the girl’s gaze toward the viewer have been greatly enhanced. During the restoration, it was discovered that the dark background, today somewhat mottled, was initially intended by the painter to be a deep enamel-like green. This effect was produced by applying a thin transparent layer of paint, called a glaze, over the present-day black background. However, the two organic pigments of the green glaze, indigo and weld, have faded into a deep rich black that I decided to use in my version. I wasn’t out to make a 100% perfect copy of the original but to try and re capture the atmosphere and mood present.

1024px-Girl_with_a_Pearl_EarringThe original that inspired me

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After about 30 minutes of shooting I had what I was looking for and we decided that it was time to have some fun. To keep constant feeling and look running through the shoot I kept to only using the 160cm octo-box and reflector that i started with ( but could set them how and where I required), and to play around with a few of the props I have in my “magic cupboard of stuff”. Other than a lightroom preset and a bit of vignette these images are almost directly from the camera. For the rest of the shoot the Octo-Box was mostly camera right and above the model pointing down but in very close to wrap her in soft light.

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