Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #2 – The Props

Previous to my last post now that I knew the print was a fail and that I would rely on the edit to superimpose my head in the jar I started setting up the scene with the manner of props. I relied on a bunch of different things to achieve the final output, to get the jars filled with vivid colour like that of an alchemists apothecary I used yellow and red food colouring, a few drops was all that was needed to turn the clear water into a garish blood and greenish goo. I also used a trick I knew from creating my own halloween costumes as a young lad that was obsessed with zombies by combining corn syrup with red food colouring to make a blood like consistency as well as water colour paint for some different coloured jars and a tattered wig.

Lighting the scene was extremely important as I wanted it to reflect the coloured lighting seen in many horror and slasher films. I relied on bicycle lamps, head lamps and little fairy lights that were the saving grace that I bought for the upcoming short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. the lights were hidden behind the jars and behind angles behind the camera, the same red gel and crumpled it over one of the head lamps to give the a more reddish hue. I accidentally broke the main head jar a few weeks ago and it actually worked out in my favour as it was leaking the entire time but it added more of a theatrical sheen to the gloss of the table top which meant that the light bounced off the surface more.

One of my desks that usually contains most of my plants has a little hole in it – I would assume for cables and wires, I wanted to take advantage of this and place a light underneath the hole so that it projected though the largest head jar and light it up from underneath, with initial tests I had to put the timer of my camera on to ten seconds and quickly duck under the desk and hold the light up to get it just right However, I did manage to eventually wedge the light in between a wooden slat so that I didn’t have to stick my lanky self under the desk which was a win in itself, here is a not so glamours behind the scenes look at what that looked like.

The scene was now set, One of the most enjoyable aspects was experimenting with the lighting and placing the jars in places that reflected and bounced the light, all the while taking a plethora of photos from a range of angles.

Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #1 – The Head

Previous to my last post with this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir” here I document the process of achieving such a grisly scene with my mug in a jar and various stumps and limbs being plopped into fluids as a cute keepsake. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors that has gone into creating the scene which I will get into, but first it needs to be explained the trials and tribulations of inserting my head into the jar in the first place. Because I didn’t want to rely too heavily on the edit, I decided to shoot the photos of me for the head with the red coming from dramatic lighting rather than editing. I simply tied a red gel cellophane sheet around one of my standing lamps to turn my room into a makeshift darkroom and continued to make myself look hideous by pulling faces all the while smushing my face against the glass of a picture frame to get the perfect ghastly shot and mimic as if my head was pressed against the inside of the jar. It was tricky at times because I had to angle the glass correctly so that the viewfinder and various screens and lamps would not obstruct the shot of my face and end up having to edit those reflections out. Here are some photos that did and didn’t make the cut. Enjoy.

For anyone that is reading this that isn’t familiar with 3D texture unwrapping, basically I used one of the above photos as the “centre piece” and then in photoshop I stitched together a left side and a separate right side shot of my head into one merged image. I did this so that when I printed the resulting image out it could be physically bended in a cylindrical curved shape and placed into the jar and behave like a real head.

I created an edit of the red to give the option of a sickly yellow and green.

However, my roommates printer started to run out of ink while printing and the A4 paper was too small, the ears and side of my head also needed be closer to the middle and I wasn’t going to use all his printer ink on my printing out my face. To alleviate the paper turning to mush inside the jar I was going to carefully stick strips of sellotape across the page to seal it in, although I kind of liked the thought of seeing what it would look like disintegrating. I knew I could get the results I wanted by manipulating the head photos in photoshop on top of the plate image of the scene and not have to print anything out but I wanted to give a whirl to the print out method.. and maybe pull a prank or two…

In the next post on Gentle Giant I will go into detail about the plethora of props used for the final scenes. Stay tuned.

“Souvenir” – Giant in a Jar

With this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal and I always connect this time of year with the cosiest of films. I may have been watching too many of the horror and slasher type, but with this prompt my head went straight to the macabre. There was lots of trickery and doing and trying with this project, I will be sharing all the fun revolving around the in’s and out’s of how I got the resulting photographs up to this point in the coming days. Stay tuned.

The Kick About #12 – The Cottingley Fairies

Another Kick About has been unfurled over at Reds Kingdom with many delightful offers from artists all over. I decided to focus on a story that is well known around my home town of Knockatee, Dunmore which is that of Fairy Hill.

Fairy Hill is a hill that overlooks the emerald green of Ireland, The hill always felt like a picturesque place out of a film, it is covered in wildflowers with a swing fashioned out of old frayed rope and driftwood, suspended sturdily above the canopy of trees. You can hear the river sinking gently lapping nearby with grinded down little paths that meander around the fairy and chestnut trees. To the east you can see Dunmore castle peeping out from the swatches of high trees as you swing away.

Dunmore Castle

The story of Fairy Hill went that builders tried to build Dunmore castle on Fairy Hill but the vivacious fairies would awake from their slumber in the dead of night, knock the stones down to the ground and did so every night to save their homes. The builders decided to build the castle down the road on a less magnificent hill which is now where Dunmore castle is seen. 

Fairy Hill sits beneath the tree branch

But these stories are not mere wives tales, they are built into our history and heritage, So much so I am sharing an article here dated back to 1912 “On the History and Antiquities of the Parish of Dunmore” which goes into detail about Fairy hill and the aforementioned story that I grow up with.

“The tradition [6] preserved by old Treacy from the mouth of the poet O’Coman, is that the noble Haiste, [7] the son of Membric, a distinguished warrior of the Welsh nation, commenced erecting a castle a short distance to the west of where Dunmore Castle now stands, but that the fairy who presides over the place, Mor Ni Mananain, not wishing that he should erect his fortress there, destroyed by night as much as his masons had erected by day, and that she continued to do so for several nights until Haiste consulted a Magician, who told him that Mor-Ny-Mhanannain did not wish him to place his fortress there, but that she would be willing to allow him to erect it on the site of her own fort, and Hasty, taking the advice of the Sage, and seeing the old Dun a favourable position, immediately commenced to build there, and More, being delighted to view so lofty a pile towering over the humble mounds of her ancient fortress, suffered no fairy to interrupt the work.

Ireland is bursting with stories like this. Planning permission for motorways have been scrapped because a pesky fairy tree is in its route and needs to be cherished. Irish people have all grown up with the stories of the Sluagh, the wailing banshee and of course the fairies, It is something I take pride in and something that I think sparked my imagination when I was a wee tot, Maybe these stories of paranormal oddities is why people view the Irish as a bit mad!? or maybe we refuse to grow up; I’ll take the latter.