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All the worlds a stage (The Seven Ages of Man)

By Nick_w      
Once again thank you for the user awards on the last image its much appreciated Smile


Just noticed the still life category Grin big thanks team


This is an image I’ve been planning for a couple of years, collecting the props, planning how to execute it and finally processing. It’s been a long and sometimes head scratching exercise, but I’ve loved every single minute of it. Thankfully I have somewhere I can leave the set up, and come back to it over days, and weeks. I started this just before Christmas and finished it yesterday.

This probably took a total of 60 hours work (maybe more) from set up, taking the images – and there are a lot of versions on my hard drive, to processing.

There are a lot of subtleties that have been included, although I doubt many of them will be easy to see on screen, as this is designed to be seen in print - which even at 300px is over a meter wide.

Every item on here, has been moved several times (even down to the cheese crumbs), all have a meaning to the narrative. Many of the original “cast” have been replaced – in fact I considered doing another image just of the ‘could have been’s’.

It’s a true panoramic – in so much as it’s a stitch of 15 images - 3 banks of 5. I chose to use exposure blending, as I only wanted one light source, other than the candle – but the exposure difference from left to right is probably about 2 stops. Originally I had planned to do a light painting version, and indeed tried, but couldn’t get the blending right. I had to make a heath Robinson pano head out of an old macro rail to avoid parallax.

I have curtailed my still life projects, as the competitions I tend to enter are not really geared for this type of image. They require an instant ‘hook’ for a judge. This is really meant for seeing in a print – a very large print. Where you can come back and see something else. I will in future be doing a lot more of these (tho maybe not as ambitious !!).

The Image is inspired by the great Baard Shakespeare and his play “As you like it” and the monologue of the same title as the image.

Now the words of the great man himself.

“ All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

Tags: Shakespeare Life Death Still life Detail Skull Scales Vanitas

Voters: BillRookery, RobboB, BobDraper and 61 more

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17 Mar 2017 6:16PM
Interesting stuff you say about judges etc. Take the photos you want and you'll get more enjoyment. I get enjoyment from this image.

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17 Mar 2017 7:32PM
Well worth the hard work that went into its creation.
18 Mar 2017 12:21AM
Superb shot ***** SmileSmileSmileSmileSmile
StrayCat 14 19.1k 3 Canada
18 Mar 2017 4:21AM
Very creative Nick.
sherlob Plus
12 2.9k 129 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2017 7:22AM
A lot of work here Nick - sometimes our passions are fuelled in ways that others would find difficult to comprehend. The final result is excellent, but I have come to expect that with your work. However, I suspect the enjoyment you have had in creating the image, will far outweigh the end result in your mind. Having read the monologue I get the narrative. Without it, I suspect it would have been too cryptic for me.
dudler Plus
14 706 1351 England
18 Mar 2017 8:37AM
If it's a choice between satisfaction and aiming for a goal... But then, I'm lazy and opinionated, and tend not to enter many competitions anyway. I'd say the judges have got it rather wrong if this sort of image isn't doing well, so maybe it's time to seek a different outlet (apart, of course, from EPZ!)

This is brilliant, and worth the effort. As painstaking as any image I can remember, including the group nudes that made David Penprase's reputation.

If i could give you two UAs for this, I would.
Otinkyad Plus
15 2 7 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2017 10:39AM
A work of art in the classic tradition.


PS I agree with what you imply about judges.
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 11:11AM
Thanks everyone, really appreciate your kind words and awards. 😀

Just to clear up the comment about judges. I wasn't complaining about them, they have a thankless task, have to get through hundreds of images in a couple of hours so inevitably the images that hit you between the eyes like a sledgehammer will score well - I can't complain I do ok in comps but it's a matter of selecting the right audience for the image. Personally I prefer images (and art in general) that makes me think, and / or has an emotional connection.
18 Mar 2017 11:18AM
Stunning image. You have chosen your props so well to convey the passage through life and your arrangement, though painstaking, looks fluid. It's not easy.
I am intrigued to know why you took it in sections and stitched (apart maybe from your desire to print large). Could it have been taken with a wide angle lens and cropped to this shape??
Also interested in your thoughts that judges don't go for still life. Are we talking camera clubs here? If so, my experience is different. I have entered a few and intend to put in my "Still Life with Rabbit" shot next week. On the whole they have been favourably received, I think because judges have seen enough cars, trains and average landscapes to last a lifetime. Still life images don't tend to turn up often.
I very much look forward to what is yet to come....
bluesandtwos 8 329 1 England
18 Mar 2017 11:34AM
Brilliant in every aspect, I haven't an award to give but if I had it would be yours! Such a beautiful collection of 'stuff' (I am enviousBlush), and brilliantly displayed, you should be most proud of this.

Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 11:36AM
Fiona, I could have used a wide angle, I chose not to for several reasons.

Yes I want this so I can print large I have probably a misguided aim of creating a small body of work for an exhibition.

With a wide angle you get a lot more distortion particularly on the edges of the frame (and quality falls at the edges) , in this images the scales are dominant (for a reason) but with a wide angle it would have been too much.

Another reason is in the area I set these up, 16mm (which is way too wide) and my widest lens I wouldn't get all the scene in due to lack of space.

In future I have adapted a space in my garage dedicated to these, where I will use studio flash, rather than my light box, but I will still use 50mm as I like the field of view it gives (actually prefer 40ish mm) - I'm thinking of upgrading to the Signa Art 50mm just for these.
18 Mar 2017 1:15PM
You are a real perfectionist! I hear what you say about wide angle distortion.
I also have had the space issue (my setup is in the spare bedroom) and loved the 40mm lens I had with my previous camera, but since going full frame, haven't quite found a lens I like as much. Just looked up the Sigma Art. That's one to drool over. Looks wonderful.
Just noticed the wine dripping out of the chalice and the ink. No detail too small. I am inspired!
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 3:09PM
I am Fiona, to a fault.

Great to be an inspiration. Well noticed particularly the ink didn't think anyone would pick that up at this resolution - there are a few other items scattered about too. One I will say is on the skull is a fly, but at this resolution it just looks like a blob (the original is over 6x the resolution on here)
DaveU 12 1.4k 125 England
18 Mar 2017 3:26PM
A labour of love Nick.

Good concept superbly executed. You've whet my appetite and I now insist that you send me the full size print so that I can enjoy this image properly.

Great stuff ...........
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 3:31PM
You're welcome to one Dave, for all the help you have given over the years Smile
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 5:30PM
Thanks for GEA Dave Smile Smile
Ross_D 4 751 1 United Kingdom
18 Mar 2017 6:50PM
Great to see an image that is a product of thought, imagination and creativity !! So many images in the gallery nowadays are just clones of what has gone before (probably including mine !).

Message to self......start to think creatively !!
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 7:20PM
Thanks Ross Smile
bricurtis Plus
12 2.2k 49 England
18 Mar 2017 9:35PM
Stunning still life imagery, superbly set up. I have been looking at it for ages.
I see you mention the dominance of the scales. They fall central in the stages of the image, would that be representative of a mid life crisis.?'s a very classy image.
Nick_w Plus
11 4.3k 99 England
18 Mar 2017 10:12PM

Quote:would that be representative of a mid life crisis.?.

In part yes, - particularly the tilted cup - Thanks too for the user award, and the same to Jules.
19 Mar 2017 4:56AM
It is quite literally a masterpiece, on par with other great pieces of photographic artistry I`ve viewed on this site . I`d admire your craftsmanship and talent.

Bravo !! Nick
cheers walt
FabioKeiner 5 109 Austria
19 Mar 2017 1:46PM
absolutely wondrful - true art (just what I' missing in the middle of life: a bottle of good scotch whiskey (water of life!) and the state-of-art sea-conch as symbol of female/sex/lust&delightSmile
Ross_D 4 751 1 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2017 6:22PM
Should have added that I liked reading your 'Description'. I'm always disappointed when I click on an image that I like only to find the 'Description' is left blank......I always like to see some info even if it's brief.
20 Mar 2017 1:38PM
Really interesting image, worth all your effort
20 Mar 2017 3:03PM
Fantastic work!!!
An outstanding still life image, well worth all the effort put into collecting and arranging it.

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