[Solution] Deconstruct this photo

Solved deconstruction

For those of you who have read my recent blog post in which I asked you to deconstruct a certain photo, well here’s the solution. It wasn’t even a really fancy setup, but the outcome was quite fancy in fact. Keep in mind that the theme for this photo was the other side. That made me think about mirrors instantly, within a day or so I had thought about a ton of different things I could do with mirrors, but I wanted more. That’s when I thought about the other side of a camera, the side that you usually don’t see. After those two ideas had been on my mind for a little while, I figured out how to combine the two.

I wanted to look through the back of the analog camera while that camera was taking a photo of itself. That sounds rather funky, but it’s quite simple in fact. I set it up as shown in the drawing below. I put the old Nikon, I’ll refer to that as the FE (it’s a Nikon FE), on a pile of books facing a mirror. I had a 50mm lens on it, to make sure I would see a nice portion of the camera in the reflection of the mirror. I opened up the back (after safely removing the film that I still had sitting in there), so the shutter was visible from behind. I then put my new Nikon, to which I’ll refer to as the D7000, behind the FE. This was the first tricky part, it had to be in a perfectly straight line behind the FE, otherwise the image projected by the lens would be way off. Also, the distance between the D7000 and the FE was an issue to get the focus more or less right. Thank god the D7000 has a live-view function, so I was able to place it without having to look through the viewfinder all the time.. That would have been a pain the ***.

Drawing of the setup that I used to take te photo.

Drawing of the setup that I used to take te photo.

That’s pretty much how I set it up, but taking the actual photo was the second challenge. First of all, I made sure the D7000 (which was also equipped with a 50mm lens) was focused right on the back of the FE, with an aperture of 4.5. The 4.5 aperture was just enough to get a reasonable depth of field. I then set the FE’s exposure time to as long as possible, 8 seconds. I first opened the shutter a few times to try to get the FE’s focus right as well, but this turned out to be kind of impossible (probably because the image had to be about 20 inches away from the camera as opposed to the 0.5 inch or so that is normal for the camera).

I didn’t use any artificial lighting for this shot, just ambient light. The light came mostly from the right, where the window was.

After trying the setup a few times, I started taking photos, adjusting focus, camera position to where I liked it. The timing was easy at first, 8 seconds on the FE to take a photo with an exposure time of only 2 seconds on the D7000. But this is where a problem cropped up, the FE’s batteries were running low and it was nog longer able to keep the shutter open for the full 8 seconds. The exposure dropped to about one and a half second I think, which made the timing incredibly difficult. But, this also added a really cool thing to the photo that I wouldn’t have otherwise come up with. In the photo you can actually see the shutter curtains, this is because the FE’s shutter closed before the D7000 was done taking the photo. Fortunately, the shutter had been open for long enough to see the FE’s reflection, but you can still see those shutter curtains. I think this is really cool, and a great example of how luck can add to your photos.

So that’s how I took the photo, not too difficult of a setup, but it took some trial and error to get the shot right. And plain luck helped me a little bit. The outcome? A pretty fancy photo with a bunch of other sides if you ask me: the back of the camera (1), the reflection of the camera (2), which is upside down and mirrored (3 and 4), and in the lens of the FE you can actually see the other side of the D7000 (5).

The final photo

The final photo

I hope you liked reading this post and it didn’t get too technical. Once again, what do you think about the shot? And has this breakdown changed your opinion on this photo?

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