Work has begun on the next diorama. (Can’t give out many details, Lori is very superstitious about talking about scenes in progress). But the division of labor is in place. She is plotting out, cutting, sanding, assembling (with a little swearing for good measure) the bones of the piece. Progress is always slow-ish at this stage because hard decisions are still being made: scale, where will the line of focus be, how high will the camera be, and how will light get into the final scene. The lighting issue is pretty key because that is what really transforms this small diorama into what appears to be (hopefully) a real space. And it’s much easier to figure that out now than after all the details are glued in place. The other tricky issue is how much floor and ceiling is needed. It is always more than you think, as it needs to extend towards the camera several feet beyond where the rest of the detailing ends. Additions almost always happen and random patches of blue on the walls and ceiling of the studio prove that figuring out how much sky/background is needed is also difficult. But once these issues are decided, there will be a brief window of time where in the space of a day, the basic structure will all come together. That is a very good day!
While Lori works on that, I’m working on detail elements. For this scene that means some lighting fixtures and wall decorations. These things are the slow-pokes and have to be started early so when Lori is ready to place them, they are complete. This scene will have some paintings, so that is where I’m at. Theme and composition are left up to me, within certain parameters of course. We try to personalize these elements, using photos of friends and family, or objects that have some meaning to us. As far as portraits go, if it ends up looking human I’m pretty happy. Getting any sort of likeness to the original subject would just be icing on the cake. I’ll confess that one painting I’m attempting is a trompe l’oeil still life. (The term is French for ‘deceive the eye’ and uses realistic painting to create the illusion that objects appear to be 3-D). My painting will have items related to my grandfather. So, we’ll see how it goes. I’m still in the planning stage. My painting background is limited (in college I did the minimum to get by) but it has improved over time. As long as I have reference, I generally do ok. And if it stinks, I’ll try something else, no one has to see it. I take comfort in the fact that in the final photo, it probably won’t be much larger than a stamp. And it may be in shadow. Or be covered with a wash of paint or dirt. A lot of trouble for such a small thing? You bet. But this is how we roll.