Scavenger Hunt #32 – Umbrella

Wooden manikin recreating a scene from Singing in the Rain, dancing with a street lamp and an umbrella.

For the 32nd Scavenger Hunt, I had decided (even before the Hunt words were public!) to try to make a series with wooden manikins. For the “Umbrella” theme, I knew I wanted to go with a “Singing in the Rain” theme. I have actually not seen the movie (I should fix that, probably 🙂 ) – but there’s a well-known image where Gene Kelly is dancing with a street lamp, under the rain, with his umbrella. Now it turns out that his umbrella is a longer, closed one; since I don’t own a non-compact umbrella, I went for an open one!

My first impulse was to try and make pictures of a “real” street lamp and to composite the manikin into it… until I glanced at my apartment plants and saw they could work very well, scale-wise, as a modern street lamp. It would look pretty artificial, for sure – but that’s also part of the whole “studio” look that I felt could work pretty well. So that was my first picture:

Wooden manikin dancing with a home garden setup containing a small lamp and some aromatic herbs.
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
F-NumberF/7.1
Exposure time1/60s
ISO800

For the rest of the image, I needed an umbrella. I recruited my husband to pose with an umbrella in our bedroom (I needed space and a dark curtain!). I had setup the light in the same approximative direction as the light coming from my “street lamp”, took a few shots (taking into account the fact that I needed both the full canopy of the umbrella and the handle), and there we go.

Man standing in a bedroom, holding an umbrella by its shaft
Man standing in a bedroom, holding an umbrella by its handle
CameraPentax K-1 II
LensSigma 28mm f/1.8 EX Aspherical DG DF Macro
Focal length28mm
F-NumberF/4
Exposure time1/25s
ISO1600

The majority of the work was to remove the white surface below the feet and the leaves – that was surprisingly tricky! So was reconstituting the umbrella shaft – getting something that “felt” right was tough. As a last step, I added some rain – I mostly followed this tutorial: How to Add Rain to a Photo with Photoshop.

There’s a couple of things I’m not entirely satisfied with in this picture – in particular, I feel like I should have added a “road” texture on the ground; and I literally saw right now as I’m writing that post two weeks after entering the image that I had issues in the umbrella canopy too 😦 I also don’t know what to think about the rain – maybe I should have gone for something a bit bolder. And also added some water on my plants to sell it better 🙂

That said, it is one of my favorite pictures of this round. I’m very happy with the manikin posing and, while I’m a bit skeptical on my handling of the rain, I did learn something there. I’m also very happy with the light of the composite – this was luck more than skill, I think, but it feels pretty spot on (pun… intended.) I’m also very happy I got the idea of using my plant’s light: I think it works significantly better, scale-wise, than anything I could have done with a real street lamp!

The complete Scavenger album is available here: the Umbrella album.

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