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Photographer
- G U Y -
Posts: 174
Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom


I'm a fan of MM photographer Daniel Murtach, but I'm at a loss what it is about this image that gives it that "painterly" look.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/3997984

kind regards
Guy
Feb 02 13 08:14 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Brian Diaz
Posts: 62,283
Danbury, Connecticut, US


It's the classic lighting, the muted color palette, the low contrast, and the slight softness that gives it an ethereal look.
Feb 02 13 08:20 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Horwitz
Posts: 2,563
Raleigh, North Carolina, US


it may sound silly - you could always ask him...
Feb 02 13 08:24 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
L A U B E N H E I M E R
Posts: 8,361
Seattle, Washington, US


John Horwitz wrote:
it may sound silly - you could always ask him...

not silly at all.

asking him was my first and only thought.

Feb 02 13 08:57 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
still-photography
Posts: 1,294
Bothell, Washington, US


Asking him will only provide you with his opinion.

What is important is that you understand how the elements of the photograph evoke the idea of a "painterly image".

A simple exercise will help answer that question for yourself.  Put the image in question next to two other images.
1 - a portrait-type image that does not seem painterly
2 - one of Rembrandt's paintings.

Spend some time contrasting & comparing among the three images.  You'll end up with a much richer understanding of the answer to your question than what you could achieve by asking anyone.
Feb 02 13 09:07 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Horwitz
Posts: 2,563
Raleigh, North Carolina, US


still-photography wrote:
Asking him will only provide you with his opinion.

...and perhaps that one is most important - who knows more about his art than the artist?

Feb 02 13 10:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
L A U B E N H E I M E R
Posts: 8,361
Seattle, Washington, US


John Horwitz wrote:

...and perhaps that one is most important - who knows more about his art than the artist?

Bingo!

no one ever asked jesus for his opinion on god. tongue

Feb 02 13 10:28 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Camerosity
Posts: 5,023
Saint Louis, Missouri, US


The lighting is one key. The "painterly" painted muslin background is another. Put the model in front of white seamless, and it wouldn't have the same look at all.
Feb 02 13 10:39 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Horwitz
Posts: 2,563
Raleigh, North Carolina, US


so.....I sent a message to the artist - can't wait to hear when he thinks.
Feb 02 13 12:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
NatashaO
Posts: 154
New York, New York, US


John Horwitz wrote:
so.....I sent a message to the artist - can't wait to hear when he thinks.

Please update thread if you get an answer, very curious myself.

Feb 02 13 01:36 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Know Idea
Posts: 2,919
San Diego, California, US


Damn nice look!
Feb 02 13 02:10 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
KC King
Posts: 848
Brea, California, US


One major thing making it look like an oil painting is the background.
Feb 02 13 02:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael Broughton
Posts: 2,163
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


for starters, they don't call it rembrandt lighting for nothing.
Feb 02 13 02:15 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Looknsee Photography
Posts: 20,824
Portland, Oregon, US


Guy Carnegie wrote:
I'm a fan of MM photographer Daniel Murtach, but I'm at a loss what it is about this image that gives it that "painterly" look.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/3997984

In a word:  Light.

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/110102/13/4d20f0f2bca52_m.jpg

Feb 02 13 02:16 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Rebel Photo
Posts: 11,446
Florence, South Carolina, US


Brian Diaz wrote:
It's the classic lighting, the muted color palette, the low contrast, and the slight softness that gives it an ethereal look.

yep!

the ambient light is key to obtaining this exposure.

Feb 02 13 02:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Herman van Gestel
Posts: 1,905
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands


Rebel Photo wrote:
yep!

the ambient light is key to obtaining this exposure.

the colour palet (especially of the skin), and softness....not too hard light, not too deep shadows..... i used a hazy light with this one...and the white studio reflected some back

http://photos.modelmayhem.com/photos/090803/02/4a76ad876dae6_m.jpg

Feb 02 13 02:27 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
- G U Y -
Posts: 174
Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom


Thanks for all the replies. I had considered contacting Daniel about it, but I often think the viewer CAN sometimes make more of an image than the photographer intended (not saying Daniel wasn't aiming for the painterly look in particular, but that's what I saw) - hence why I asked here.

I think the muslin does have a lot to do with it, and also the tousled hair and skin tone variation (imperfection being the whole point)

The imperfections in the tones make me think of brushstrokes and variations in pigment on canvas.

Just that it hit me that on first viewing, it looks like a painting, but the more you look the more photgraphic detail is seen.

Herman - stunning work.

Kind Regards
Guy
Feb 02 13 03:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


Guy Carnegie wrote:
I'm a fan of MM photographer Daniel Murtach, but I'm at a loss what it is about this image that gives it that "painterly" look.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

http://www.modelmayhem.com/portfolio/pic/3997984

kind regards
Guy

I think it's window light, which is what painters would have been duplicating. I also think that the distance and material of the background is having an impact. I think if everything was left the same, but you changed the background to seamless paper, it would look significantly less painterly.

That's probably the 5D1 as well. It has a very distinct look, especially when used with a 24-70. I can't recognize that combination as well as I used to when that was very commonly used, but my guess is 5D1 an a lens shot at 2.8, but I'm not sure which lens. I also think it's longer than 50mm.

Feb 02 13 05:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


John Horwitz wrote:

...and perhaps that one is most important - who knows more about his art than the artist?

The question is really "what's making me perceive this as painterly" not "how did he shoot this photo"

The photographer will have no way to know what things influence the OP's perceptions.


It may just be that the photo is extremely similar in the pose and the appearance of the subject and that it's triggering a memory as opposed to being because of something technical.

Feb 02 13 05:46 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ELiffmann
Posts: 1,393
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, US


MC Photo wrote:

The question is really "what's making me perceive this as painterly" not "how did he shoot this photo"

The photographer will have no way to know what things influence the OP's perceptions.


It may just be that the photo is extremely similar in the pose and the appearance of the subject and that it's triggering a memory as opposed to being because of something technical.

right.. What struck me is the the exotic look of the model which is reminiscent of some of the models the old masters used... To go along with the Rembrandt lighting and the Seargent background.

Feb 02 13 07:07 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,521
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


MC Photo wrote:

I think it's window light, which is what painters would have been duplicating. I also think that the distance and material of the background is having an impact. I think if everything was left the same, but you changed the background to seamless paper, it would look significantly less painterly.

That's probably the 5D1 as well. It has a very distinct look, especially when used with a 24-70. I can't recognize that combination as well as I used to when that was very commonly used, but my guess is 5D1 an a lens shot at 2.8, but I'm not sure which lens. I also think it's longer than 50mm.

except its a crop frame Nikon D50 with a 50mm 1.7 prime shot a bit more open than 2.8.

Feb 02 13 07:13 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Horwitz
Posts: 2,563
Raleigh, North Carolina, US


MC Photo wrote:
The question is really "what's making me perceive this as painterly" not "how did he shoot this photo"

Do you find it possible to cleave then one from the other?

Feb 02 13 07:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,521
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


John Horwitz wrote:

Do you find it possible to cleave then one from the other?

probably only if one perceived that the photographer had not succeeded 113%

Feb 02 13 07:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
John Horwitz
Posts: 2,563
Raleigh, North Carolina, US


given the exif data it is UNLIKELY to be window light:

IPTC Core (Adobe XMP)

Expand All / Collapse All / Show/Hide XMP Source / Show/Hide XMP Legend

    xpacket = begin="" id="W5M0MpCehiHzreSzNTczkc9d"
    x:xmpmeta

EXIF IFD0

    Image Width = 504 pixels
    Image Length = 732 pixels
    Bits Per Sample = 8,8,8
    Compression = uncompressed (1)
    Photometric Interpretation = RGB (2)
    Camera Make = NIKON CORPORATION
    Camera Model = NIKON D50
    Picture Orientation = normal (1)
    Samples Per Pixel = 3
    X-Resolution = 720000/10000 ===> 72
    Y-Resolution = 720000/10000 ===> 72
    Planar Configuration = chunky format (1)
    X/Y-Resolution Unit = inch (2)
    Software / Firmware Version = Adobe Photoshop CS3 Macintosh
    Last Modified Date/Time = 2009:11:17 15:31:08

EXIF Sub IFD

    Exposure Time (1 / Shutter Speed) = 1/40 second ===> 0.025 second
    Lens F-Number / F-Stop = 16/5 ===> ƒ/3.2
    Exposure Program = normal program (2)
    ISO Speed Ratings = 400
    Original Date/Time = 2007:07:28 16:59:12
    Digitization Date/Time = 2007:07:28 16:59:12
    Exposure Bias (EV) = -2/3 ===> -0.67
    Max Aperture Value (APEX) = 8/5 ===> 1.6
    Max Aperture = ƒ/1.74
    Metering Mode = pattern / multi-segment (5)
    Light Source / White Balance = unknown (0)
    Flash = Flash did not fire
    Focal Length = 50/1 mm ===> 50 mm
    Last Modified Subsecond Time = 50
    Original Subsecond Time = 50
    Digitized Subsecond Time = 50
    Colour Space = uncalibrated (65535)
    Image Width = 379 pixels
    Image Height = 550 pixels
    Image Sensing Method = one-chip color area sensor (2)
    Custom Rendered = normal process (0)
    Exposure Mode = auto exposure (0)
    White Balance = auto (0)
    Digital Zoom Ratio = 1/1 ===> 1
    Focal Length in 35mm Film = 75
    Scene Capture Type = standard (0)
    Gain Control = n/a (0)
    Contrast = normal (0)
    Saturation = normal (0)
    Sharpness = normal (0)
    Subject Distance Range = unknown (0)

EXIF IFD1

    Compression = JPEG compression (6)
    X-Resolution = 72/1 ===> 72
    Y-Resolution = 72/1 ===> 72
    X/Y-Resolution Unit = inch (2)
    Embedded thumbnail image:
   
    or is it
Feb 02 13 08:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,521
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


John Horwitz wrote:
given the exif data it is UNLIKELY to be window light:


   
    or is it

ISO 400? shot at 1/40 close to wide open? sure could be.  When I  looked t the EXIF it was just to see if it was a 5D1 or not.  everything else that wasn't 100% crystal clear I didnt bother with.

Feb 02 13 08:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Chuckarelei
Posts: 9,250
Seattle, Washington, US


MC Photo wrote:
It may just be that the photo is extremely similar in the pose and the appearance of the subject and that it's triggering a memory as opposed to being because of something technical.

I agree.

I myself do not think the image has painterly feel at all.

Feb 02 13 08:29 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
moving pictures
Posts: 661
Los Angeles, California, US


classic composition, model, clothes, pose, and no modern make.  Very natural looking.  The light is classic too, though in the sample image above, I see a beauty dish reflecting in her eyes. 

That's in camera.  In post....

Desaturated as most "classic paintings" we know have their pigments faded with time.  (see before and after images of the Cistine Chapel restoration)

Crushed blacks.  I don't think these are low contrast images at all.

He also appears to "unify" the colors.  Meaning that a single color was added slightly to the backgrounds, this giving the entire background a similar tone.  A different color layer added slightly to the skins, thus giving all the skin a similar tone. 

Then I suspect in the sample image (thought not his others) a color gradient was subtly added to the background.

I also think the backgrounds, and skin possibly to a far lesser degree, was shift a bit green.  Or the skin and hair was shift toward brown.  (or it could be just my monitor)

I've experimented with similar painterly techniques.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/52cfabac3b58a8a41752e2ef4a22a932/tumblr_mepbyz7Rh71r21jk2o1_1280.jpg
Feb 02 13 09:16 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AVD AlphaDuctions
Posts: 10,521
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada


moving pictures wrote:
classic composition, model, clothes, pose, and no modern make.  Very natural looking.  The light is classic too, though in the sample image above, I see a beauty dish reflecting in her eyes. 

That's in camera.  In post....

Desaturated as most "classic paintings" we know have their pigments faded with time.  (see before and after images of the Cistine Chapel restoration)

Crushed blacks.  I don't think these are low contrast images at all.

He also appears to "unify" the colors.  Meaning that a single color was added slightly to the backgrounds, this giving the entire background a similar tone.  A different color layer added slightly to the skins, thus giving all the skin a similar tone. 

Then I suspect in the sample image (thought not his others) a color gradient was subtly added to the background.

I also think the backgrounds, and skin possibly to a far lesser degree, was shift a bit green.  Or the skin and hair was shift toward brown.  (or it could be just my monitor)

I've experimented with similar painterly techniques.

http://25.media.tumblr.com/52cfabac3b58a8a41752e2ef4a22a932/tumblr_mepbyz7Rh71r21jk2o1_1280.jpg

I don't see this image as painterly at all.

Feb 02 13 09:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
moving pictures
Posts: 661
Los Angeles, California, US


AVD AlphaDuctions wrote:

I don't see this image as painterly at all.

well, to each, his own.  many in the fashion industry commented that it does.

Feb 02 13 09:53 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
- G U Y -
Posts: 174
Aberdeen, Scotland, United Kingdom


Not sure how much credibility to give that EXIF data. It says it was last modified in Nov'09, though MM says it was uploaded in 2007.

I can also see the old master style in the image posted above, though the lingerie and makeup brings it bang up to date.

I wonder if it was just the romany look of the model? I understand a lot of the old masters models were Romany's.

Also, as you say the muted colour palette gives it a look of having been colour shifted over time like many antique paintings.

Definitely going to  have to get/make a background similar to that.
Feb 03 13 12:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Marciofs
Posts: 1,894
Freiburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany


To me it is just the Rembrandt light and the soft creamy colours of the sking and background, the pose and models look helps but that is just it.
Feb 03 13 12:40 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Kent Art Photography
Posts: 2,649
Ashford, England, United Kingdom


moving pictures wrote:
well, to each, his own.  many in the fashion industry commented that it does.

Perhaps those with a broader knowledge would comment that it doesn't.

Feb 03 13 12:52 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
moving pictures
Posts: 661
Los Angeles, California, US


Kent Art Photography wrote:
Perhaps those with a broader knowledge would comment that it doesn't.

Everybody thinks they have broader knowledge then those they disagree with.  wink

But as the saying goes.. eye of the beholder....

Feb 03 13 02:13 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
moving pictures
Posts: 661
Los Angeles, California, US


Guy Carnegie wrote:
I wonder if it was just the romany look of the model? I understand a lot of the old masters models were Romany's.

Wow.  Never thought of that, but that's a really good observation of the masters and the model in the photo the OP linked to.

I think you're right.  Or if not Romany, then maybe the Italian look?  Caravaggio style...

http://paintings-art-picture.com/paintings/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/01/Caravaggio-Paintings-Art-70.jpg

Feb 03 13 02:16 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
still-photography
Posts: 1,294
Bothell, Washington, US


Guy Carnegie wrote:
...I'm at a loss what it is about this image that gives it that "painterly" look.
Guy Carnegie wrote:
I think the muslin does have a lot to do with it, and also the tousled hair and skin tone variation (imperfection being the whole point)

The imperfections in the tones make me think of brushstrokes and variations in pigment on canvas.

Just that it hit me that on first viewing, it looks like a painting, but the more you look the more photographic detail is seen.

I'm please that you took it upon yourself to study the image and arrive at your own conclusions!  Asking someone how they did something has little or nothing to do with how you may perceive the result.

MC Photo wrote:
The question is really "what's making me perceive this as painterly" not "how did he shoot this photo"

The photographer will have no way to know what things influence the OP's perceptions.


It may just be that the photo is extremely similar in the pose and the appearance of the subject and that it's triggering a memory as opposed to being because of something technical.

And that is why some photographs tell you something profound about the subject, while others just say, "this is a picture of _____". 

Successful communication is about the response to the message more than it is about how the message was formulated.

Feb 03 13 09:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
LA StarShooter
Posts: 1,750
Los Angeles, California, US


AVD AlphaDuctions wrote:

I don't see this image as painterly at all.

I see it as very painterly: the body has painterly textures and it is also very good.

Feb 03 13 09:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Neil Snape
Posts: 9,439
Paris, Île-de-France, France


I agree that it is in the tones and the over all look that make up for a painterly image.

I was playing with one the other day, only settings on raw. It has color in the shadows, a certain contrast range that makes it a photograph that could be the reference for a painting.
I'm not a painter yet have added color gels into some of my pix to do what the painters did.

http://sphotos-h.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-frc1/793791_484840574885552_386255232_o.jpg
Feb 03 13 09:23 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Looknsee Photography
Posts: 20,824
Portland, Oregon, US


Okay, let me try to give you a more detailed answer.  Let's start by examining an "old master" painter -- Johannes Vermeer.  Here are a couple of his most famous paintings -- google him for more:

http://www.steveartgallery.se/upload1/file-admin/images/new21/Johannes%20Vermeer-288654.jpg

http://www.oilpaintings-sales.com/images-big/johannes-vermeer/johannes-vermeer-girl-reading-a-letter-at-an-open-window-79191.jpg

In these images, you can see a big window in the painting, and yes, that window provides a large, soft, directional light source.  There are additional windows that you can't see, contributing to the large & directional light source.  The side of the figure opposite the window are backlit by reflected light off the walls.

Now consider this photograph:
http://www.looknseephoto.com/oregon/2008/lg02/lg02d_0002sep700.jpg
Model:  Keira Grant

This was lit by strobes.  There is a big honkin' (4'x6') softbox positioned close the Keira -- it's on a boom arm & tilted slightly down, simulating a skylight.  It is very close to Keira, just out of the image frame, producing a rapid fall-off of light.  There is a small high softbox positioned off the right side of the image, filling in some shadows.  Finally, this light does marvelous things to the various textures in the image.

So, in short, start with the light.  I'm in the habit of "deconstructing" images; I am especially interested in figuring it out how the scene was lit.  That is a worthwhile exercise for all us photographers.
Feb 03 13 09:42 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


John Horwitz wrote:

Do you find it possible to cleave then one from the other?

Sometimes they're not separate. "Why am I perceiving this photo as out of focus?" Because it is.

"Why does this photo of a clown make me feel like a scared child?" Do some light modifiers provoke fear? Is the light close creating falloff and a dark sinister background?

In this clown case it's that the viewer suffered a childhood trauma at the hands of an evil clown and the photo shot with "happy lighting" is triggering a memory and creating a feeling. It's the content and not the technical.


Sometimes it's a mix. In all cases, the photographer can't know what's causing a viewer's perceptions, especially if they don't perceive it that way at all. Maybe Murtaugh needs glasses and doesn't know it, so he makes his post blurry to match his vision. So he's perceiving it as 100% realistic and someone else is perceiving it as "painterly".

Maybe the OP is viewing on a non-calibrated monitor.

For this type of question - which is "why" not "how" asking a group makes more sense, because you have to find people who see it the same way in order to get an answer - that may or may not be the photographer. And there's almost always going to be multiple factors responsible. The more opinions the more likely you are to have someone nail the balance.


The real way to get the answer is ask a crowd who agrees, a crowd who disagrees, the creator, and then experiment yourself and see if you can find something where one way makes it "painterly" and one way makes it not. It's really only the last part that will answer the question. The idea that there creator is the best source is wrong.

I've found that most innovators are not innovating through the technical side of their brain, but the instinctual side. They're going from a feeling, not a thought. They may know  the answer because they're doing it, but it may not exist in words internally. So even in a case where the creator knows the answer, they may not be able to communicate.


I wrote a magazine article about a technical musical recording process that someone had created. Mixing actually. They explained it to me over a 10 hour period. By the end I had grasped only the beginning of an understanding. I spent a year editing and trying it and really started to get the point by then. Years later I can explain the entire thing in one sentence.

At one point the mixer gave a 1 hour demo of the process with me assisting. He talked for 45 minutes and hadn't explained any relevant part of it. No one had any idea what the point was. I asked him if I could provide a three minute demo, where I showed a common problem that happens the normal way and then did the same thing with his approach and the problem couldn't happen. That's now how he explains it.

This has nothing to do with skill or intelligence it's all perspective. His perspective is trying to explain his instincts. My perspective is trying to explain what I saw him do. I spent a year rereading his words. Outlining what he said and the reordering it in to a more logical beginning middle and end and asked follow up questions as I got closer and closer. The thing is that my perspective was outside looking in, which is the same perspective as everyone else, and one he can never have. Communicating it is easier for me than him because of the perspective.


I'm not saying that this is the case in this instance, but the creator can't ever have the same perspective as everyone else and that may affect their ability to answer a question.

Feb 03 13 12:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MC Photo
Posts: 4,144
New York, New York, US


Chuckarelei wrote:

I agree.

I myself do not think the image has painterly feel at all.

I do.

That model used to be my local bartender, so I've been familiar with his work since she shot with him. Whenever I hear Murtaugh, I think "painting".

I do think this one changes and becomes less so as you look at it.

I'm certain I'm influenced by other photos of his and my pigeonholing of his work.

Feb 03 13 12:32 pm  Link  Quote 
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