Compositing Zephyrus

29 Dec

Even though I take hundreds of pictures across the country and make dozens of outfits, the majority of my time on Mozart Project is spent photo editing.

When I read an opera, my mind projects the play as if it were a movie, and if an imagined scene from an opera is too memorable to pass up, but can’t be photographed practically, a composite image has to be made. I would like to share this process with you.

“Apollo et Hyacinthus” is an intermezzo. This is a play that is placed between the acts of another play, and can be compared to the commercials that play during the act breaks of your favorite television shows, but instead of the commercials being self-contained, they also tell a story that concludes right before you’re returned to your regular programing. The opera was written by Mozart when he was around 11 years old, and features one aria for each character, and three ensembles.

The play is based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and tells the story of Apollo, a god, and Hyacinth, the guy he was having a “bro-mance” with (according to the opera they each think the other is a really cool guy and then they play sports together.)  In Ovid, they are actually the first recorded homosexuals, which the play alters. However, a very distinctly bi-sexual villain, Zephyrus, is jealous of their “bro-mance” and throws a discus at Hyacinth’s head, killing him.

Apollo discovers that Zephyrus has murdered Hyacinth and using his god-super-powers (like in the Matrix!) he has the villain sucked away into the sky by the winds.

This image, of Zephyrus being changed into the West Wind was very striking in my imagination, and I needed to catch it on film for my project!

First, I sketched what my idea for the image would look like of Zephyrus Being Carried away by the winds – essentially turning into the winds, for he never returns to earth.

Zephyrus Sketch

Then I take the picture.

With this particular image, I asked a friend of a friend to come and be Zephyrus. Michael is perfect as this pagan deity. He is good-looking, has long hair and even has a little bit of a cool edge that benefits the villain. There’s an aura about him that naturally embodies the weight of the character’s plight as well as his connection with nature. The most beneficial aspect of working with him, however, was his ease in front of the camera.

Michael as Zephyrus

Here is Michael at ease in front of the camera.

After the picture is taken, I spend hours compositing the image on a computer.

Here is the process:

Zephyrus Composite 1


Zephyrus Composite 2


Zephyrus Composite 3


Zephyrus Composite 4


And if you compare the final image to the sketch, you will see that they are very similar.

Michael as Zephyrus

Michael is a perfect Zephyrus, but don't take my word for it! Read the play!




One Response to “Compositing Zephyrus”

  1. Tristan D. Vick December 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I know some readers (and photogs) may be interested in technical details such as: What kind of camera did you use? What’s your lighting set up? Do you use photoshop? Etc.

    Maybe that can be a blog unto its own?

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