A Recreation of Philippe Halsman’s ‘Dali Atomicus’! – by Karl Taylor


This is my story on how I recreated one
of the most famous pictures of all time Phillipe Halsman’s
collaboration of Salvador Dali ‘Atomicus’ Such was the challenge that the BBC
decided to document our attempts at this shot! First we started by building the set
configuring props and lighting okay the next thing is to figure out the
direction of the light so Ben is going to go up there and hold a light just as
a temporary measure so that we can find the direction of the light and the
position of the light source before we figure out which modifier we need to use
so I need to be absolutely sure of the direction of the light based on my
calculations that’s better that’s better that’s exactly where it’s got to be
that’s like it is in the picture just touching the skirting and then Darla is
here and when he jumps his shadow joins onto there right so things are going really well
Ben’s trying to figure out how to get this dolly what’s the perception of
memory clock floating in the air to replace one of the cats and we’ve got
the chess spended which is pretty much in the right position and the set is
coming along really nicely Tim’s over there trying to figure out how to
suspend the easel so we’re trying to use the original techniques of suspending
everything by wires and not using Photoshop to get as realistic
reproduction of this historical picture as possible but you’re never gonna get
that accurate no is it no you want this one stop moving it’s this one look I’m
tugging on it see how easy that was so
no it wasn’t wielding a massive uncontrollable 12-foot beam around that
one’s in the way jobs are Gooden Wow no no go and do a test jump bending you
cough right let me lock the shutter up are you ready go capturing the water
correctly was a key part of the shot so we tested it again again again again
again again again again again and again you don’t need to be a magician to
master the art of Illusion as the one shows artists in residence Audubon she
has been finding out as an artist I wouldn’t normally be
throwing water at a flying toaster while a chair hangs in the air but today I’m
doing something pretty surreal and I’m doing it in tribute to the master of
surrealist art Salvador Dali born in Spain in 1904 Dali defined surrealism
bizarre and imaginative interpretations of everyday subjects
this painting the persistence of memory is thought to be a meditation on time
but it’s another of Dolly’s works that deals with time that I’m hoping to help
recreate today this 1948 piece Dali atomic Oz featured Dali himself frozen
in time surrounded by flying cats and floating easels it was a collaboration
with photographer Philip Houseman that image was captured long before photo
editing software had even been dreamt of so how hard is it going to be to
recreate the exact same shot using the exact same basic techniques guarantee
base photographer Carl Taylor is going to give it a go Carl why did you want to
recreate this picture well Ari this photo has really inspired me and
inspired my work and my career in many ways what really interests me about it
is the amount of activity and motion that’s frozen in time how did they get
this original shot they had to suspend everything on wires to make it look like
it was floating in the air but because they’re throwing water and cats into the
picture yeah it took many many attempts what was the most difficult thing to
achieve everything happening at exactly the same time and you can see in these
shots here where they failed many of them I think about 28 attempts to Dali
was happy with the final result to recreate the photo exactly Carl has
spent weeks building a replica of the set today it’s standing ready with its
floating props hang him in the exact positions the difficult part was
matching the lighting though what I use is a technique which is
ray tracing where you find out where the shadow point of an object is and then
trace the line to the object we can determine approximately where the light
source was the part of dolly will be played by local actor dave hyatt but
there’s one thing we won’t be recreating so obviously we can’t use cats so what
have you used to replace them well I’ve got a toaster because I liked the energy
of things popping out of the toaster was kind of similar to the energy of the
cats right and then here I’ve used the melting clock which is from another of
Dolly’s famous painting here persistence of memory with everything in place we
are set my role is to throw the water into shot just before Dave jumps and it
all has to be captured in the millisecond it happens by car and that
ain’t go – hi – hi okay so we go again blah blah
blah blah blah he’s super happy for pollen are they were born atomic gator I
went too early so damn close so what’s the news car the news is good
adding on our 29th attempt we captured that and it is so close to the original
an Italian Houseman got their shot on the 28th tape asked to just one more not
a bad result for this collaboration of artist and photographer watch part two
for a full detailed explanation on the science the theory and the lighting
behind the recreation of Darlie atomic Asst

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