Through The Looking Glass
“Through The Looking Glass”
by Marc VanDermeer
The inspiration for this series of photographs evolved out of a workshop I had
attended at Silvermine this past fall. We were reviewing the work from a historical
period of photography known as Photo-Secession and Pictorialism. (early mid
A group of photographers led by Alfred Stieglitzs that included Edward Steichen.
Alvin Langdon Coburn, Clarence H. White had broken away from the Camera
Club of New York to form their own galley. All sharing a stylistic view that
photography was a medium of artistic expression. They viewed photography as a
fine-art and with the use of creative darkroom and printing techniques,
manipulated their work to look more like a pastel, etching or painting then a
Having my own roots in painting, I found their work to be of great inspiration and
a validation of the legitimacy of combining post visual “photoshop” techniques
with those of modern photography.
The idea for Through The Looking Glass took shape while experimenting with a
newly acquired set of tools called Nik Filters. When used in conjunction with
Photoshop it can produce vintage looking film photographs.
I wanted to super impose a recent b/w photograph of water lilies named
Reflections with that of a much older print from my parents photo album. The
older photograph had been shot with a Rolliflex medium format camera probably
using Kodachrome color film. While the b/w shot of water lilies had been
photographed with my Cannon 7D camera.
The task presented me with several challenges. I had to convert an analog
photograph into a digital file while preserving it’s Kodachrome vintage film look. I
did this by scanning the older photograph with an Epson Flatbed Scanner and
saving it as a .tiff file in Photoshop. After making several corrections using the
Levels, Brightness and Contrast tools in Photoshop, I set out to restore the
original vintage look. Having the right tools is half the battle. Color Efex Pro 4,
one of Nik’s filters, gave me the right adjustment tools to color correct and restore
the photographs original film look. Back in Photoshop I used the Save As tool to
preserve my work as Marc-1964.psd.
The next step was to copy Marc-1964.psd and Flatten the file merging all the
layers thus reducing its size making it more manageable to work with. Once this
step is taken and saved there is no going back. This is why I had made a copy.
Next I opened my b/w image named Reflections in Photoshop adjusting Levels,
Brightness and Contrast. Saving my work again prior to Flattening the four
layers of adjustments.
If your starting to get confused you can imagine how confusing everything gets if
you aren't recording your actions. There is a great deal of trial and error during
the creative process.
The next task was to merge two shots into one. There are many ways to do this
but I choose Analog Efex Pro another Nik filter. This set of 10 tools gives the
photographer the ability to create vintage looking photographs as though they
had been shot with classic camera’s, films and lenses. In particular you can use
many of the darkroom and printing techniques used by early 20th century
photographers. Most importantly it gave me the tools to super impose my two
images in such a way as to look as though it had been made in camera.
By default Analog Efex Pro will duplicate the original image as its second image.
You must use the plus (+) button to add a second image to create a double
exposure with two separate files. Once both images were loaded I began playing
with the overall brightness and contrast of my double exposure. Experimenting
with the opacity to get the final look I was after and adding a few effects to give
my new piece an etherial timeless feel. I saved my work naming it Through The
Looking Glass. The final version is pictured here.
The printing of this photograph was done by on an Epson 3080 Stylus Pro which
will produce art gallery level prints using Epson UltraChrome 8-color ink set.
To me printing is one of the more difficult tasks which is why photographers often
choose a professional printer to reproduce their work. I prefer to have a
professional service print my work for anything larger then 17” x 22” inches in
Through The Looking Glass
Through the looking glass of my minds eye
Reflections of Deja Vu
Each floating leaf a distant memory, now lost to time,
locked in a room with no door or key
with the light of the crescent moon, passages and memories dim in autumn light
END OF PART ONE