During a conversation, that grew from a comment on Google+, I was invited to attempt another artist’s style; an invitation to ‘steal like an artist’ and a chance to ‘shoot someone’s shtick’!
“It’s fun. Wanna join and do some too?” ~ Vesa
Yeah right! I really want to attempt an Avanaut-esque snow scene? Like I’m capable of replicating one of his snow spectacles?!
Just last week Shelly wrote about stealing like an artist. And I’ve written about shooting someone’s shtick before.
There’s an added layer of respect when shooting someone’s shtick. Wanting to do them justice adds weight to the photography process. This added weight pushes beyond the normal process; it adds more, in a constructive way. It’s the burden of respect that adds another facet to the tribute that’s created; a homage to their shtick.
This invitation was the perfect opportunity to steal correctly and attempt someone’s shtick the right way.
After his invitiation, I was tempted to ask Vesa for some tips on creating snow. But you should never ask a magician how they perform their tricks! Or is it that you can ask, but a magician never reveals their secrets? Maybe it’s never look a gift magician in the mouth? It’s like looking for a magician’s secrets in a haystack?
I could talk about mixed metaphors until the cows turn blue in the face, but it did remind me of a quote by Dean Learner from Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.
“An eagle-eyed viewer might be able to see the wires. A pedant might be able to see the wires. But I think if you’re looking at the wires you’re ignoring the story. If you go to a puppet show you can see the wires. But it’s about the puppets; it’s not about the string. If you go to a Punch & Judy show and you’re only watching the wires, you’re a freak.”
~ Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace
The Punch & Judy Show
So with Dean’s wise words in mind, I set out to ignore the wires and focus on the story. Well, I decided to discover my own wires and not ask the puppet master if he could lend me his.
In the past I’ve tried flour to replicate snow, but it always looked too dry and seemed to photograph with a yellowish tinge? Sure, that yellow could be corrected in post, but adding moisture? Nah!
In my search for wires I came across a few recipes for snow combining baking soda with shaving cream or hair conditioner. It’s hardly surprising that there wasn’t any shaving cream in my home, so I opted for hair conditioner.
That’s the trick, that’s the trick
I can’t believe that you’re falling for it
That’s the fear, feel it grow
Shatters the ground as it comes from below
Red Fang – Malverde
That’s The Trick
Starting with some baking soda in a bowl, I slowly added the conditioner (it MUST be white in colour!) mixing it until it became the consistency I was after. Amazingly, this Frankenstein snow was even cool to the touch!
Cold inner emptiness inspire?
Substitutes dilate, instantly fried.
Damaged – Dust
After spooning the snow onto a plate, setting the Minifigures in position I gave the whole scene a light dusting of dry baking soda though a sieve, and voila!
The glowing jack-o-lantern required a little bit more work. I made a tube of silver cardboard, made a hole in an upturned plastic takeaway container, inserted the tube, and placed my phone with the flash/torch shining up the tube under the container. I then added the snow and placed the jack-o-lantern over the cardboard light tube.
Being invited to play in the snow by Vesa challenged me to not only create my own snow, but it also tested me in how I’d approach shooting an Avanaut-esque scene.
I decided not to set the wires just as he does. Actually, my puppet show was more finger-puppets than marionettes! I played in Avanaut’s wintry wonderland, my way.
But, isn’t that how a homage should be?
I’d like to credit Avanaut as the inspiration for these photos, and also thank him for inviting me to come and play in the snow with him. Thank you Vesa.
Have you ever shot someone’s shtick? What new tricks have you discovering whilst paying homage to someone?
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The conversation was casual and the invitation was a part of the flow, but it was sincere. It was an invitation to have some fun. I am so glad you took it like this, as an adventure. The results were fun, exciting and rich in discovery.
Hair conditioner and baking powder? Shaving foam, what the hey? Oh man, this is absolutely the first I have heard of anything like this. It is very interesting and very different from my, umm… lab. Is the mix something you can sculpt, make forms of? Does it harden when it dries?
The single pumpkin on snow with a cellphone under it is close to how I did some of mine. A creative hack, I’d call it. Works like a charm and does the job. No wires anywhere.
It’s refreshing to see colour in the snow, not just yellow snow. The colourful accessories give the series a palette of it’s own. I like it very much. I also like the guitar troopers. Together with the pumpkin they make a delightfully carol-esque duo. They couldn’t play, of course, fingers frozen…
All in all this is a wonderful post. It makes me look at my own photographs differently and I welcome that. I hope you enjoyed this impromptu to the cold and didn’t make too much of a mess. 🙂
Again, thank you for the invitation to play in your wintry wonderland. You invited me to have fun, and I definitely did!
Yeah, the hair conditioner recipe?! I was skeptical too. But, it really was cool to the touch? And yes, it can be formed into shapes! I was a little rushed to concoct, shoot and tidy the mess before my wife returned from work, so I only made a small batch knowing it would end in the bin following its use. I don’t know how long it lasts? Next time I make some, I’ll keep it stored in a container and let you know how it ages.
I can only assume the caroling troopers renditions were rather butchered versions of the classics due to their frozen fingers. I on the other hand had nimble fingers. Unlike shooting on a frozen, frosty morning last winter where I discovered the pain of shooting in sub-zero conditions. I’ll take Frankenstein snow any day!
I really had a wonderful time shooting in the snow. And I was fortunate that it didn’t get too messy….this time! 😉
It was nice to read your approach to the invitation, the flow of thoughts is so underrated in a toy picture while i think is part of the art.
I should challenge myself with snow, probably during next month, because it is definitely out of my confort zone!
Oh, there’s nothing like taking on a new adventure, especially if it’s a challenge and/or something that wouldn’t be normally attempted.
It never snows where we live. Well, it does, in the middle of winter and there’s a few hours drive in the car to find it. So this was out of my comfort zone.
Plus, it was nice to shoot in the snow with warm fingers! 😛
Cheers mate. I was a lot of fun playing in the snow, especially when it never usually snows where we live!
Great post, Brett! I love that you took Vesa’s invitation and ran with it, the results are fantastic! Once I started reading I thought, “Oh man I hope he shares how he made that snow…” because the effect is perfect! I thought for a minute that you had some bizarre weather in your neck of the woods.
In the past I’ve used powdered sugar for snow, with mixed results. I will definitely try this mixture and see how I like it!
No freaky weather here, just freaky concoctions in the kitchen! I was pleasantly surprised at the results of mixing conditioner and baking soda. I’d love to know who first thought of mixing those two to make snow?!
It was super fun shooting with snow, especially when we never see the real stuff without a car trip. I’ll definitely be visiting the mock snow fields again!
Very cool post (no pun intended)… the recipe for snow is something I, like others here, will have to try out. The only time I’ve tried a “snow” image I made my snow in the Thermomix with a bunch of ice… it made good snow, but meant I had to be ready to go quick smart due to the melt.
And then I had to use an overlay to simulate the snow on the shoulders of the subjects… your method here has a much nicer result and is something I may have to steal, I mean, be inspired by.
I also LOVE how you the illumination of the pumpkin head worked. I had thought it was maybe a single LED put inside.
As always, beautiful work that keeps the viewers enthralled by the result and now inspired by the information. Thanks always for sharing.
I’ve tried ice too. It looked great..for about 2 minutes! It quickly resembled a Slurpee left in a hot car!
A dusting of baking soda sieved over the scene adds the perfect show on shoulders etc.
Thanks for you lovely feedback mate.
Vesa and Brett: sorry for being late into the conversation, however I can shed some light on to the longevity of fake snow. I have yet to try Brett’s suggestion of shaving cream, but I’m guessing that it might have a similar life to the conditioner version. I made my first batch of fake snow in early December and left it out until New Year. It has been sitting quite happily in zip lock bags since, and the only deterioration is that it has dried out. I am guessing that, with some more conditioner to revitalise it, I will be able to return to fake Winter shooting.