The Conversion of a Wooden Dummy by Peter Zentjens

The Conversion of a Wooden Dummy by 

Where to Start? Let’s see… Ok, my original concept was just a tad different. I had this rather weird surrealistic idea with a praying wooden dummy. But once I started to build up the composition for real I slid back into my old and comfortable Nostalgia style, going for a nice warm (but still slightly weird) mood.

Once I finished the composition and started lighting the scene with my regular painted with light technique something extraordinary happened. My very first “painting”, my very first exposure was spot on. At least for the main layer. I can assure you, this has never happened before!

Never the less, I did a couple of exposures extra, focussing on different areas in the composition. Several of those extras I ended up using in the final “blend” (see my tutorial if you want to know what I’m talking about).

As for the subjects, there are 2 special items here. One is the bible which is written in Old Dutch and dates from 1926. The other is the mini rosary that is draped on top of the open bible. I bought it when I visited Vatican City, back when I was 18 years old. It was a gift for my grandmother who was very catholic. When she passed away this little rosary was my inheritance from her and I have it right here on my desk to remember her by. As a matter of fact, not knowing where to put it, I draped it around the neck of my wooden mannequin… and so an idea was born. ;^)

The rest of the objects come from around the world… China, Taiwan, Ikea, they are all represented. Anyway it’s almost midnight here, so I’d better rap up. I had fun creating this, I hope you’ll enjoy looking at it.

Shot with my Pentax K10D and my loyal old Pentax-A 1:1.7 50mm objective.

More “toy” inspired nostalgia


  • polly470
    polly470almost 4 years ago

    Info is invaluable…picture is fantabulous!!

  • Thank you Polly, you are fast!

    – Peter Zentjens

  • polly470
    polly470almost 4 years ago

    LOL!! Not since I was a teenager I am afraid…long time ago!!!!

  • lol indeed. :)

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Peter Hill
    Peter Hillalmost 4 years ago

    From concept to display, everything is superbly crafted, Peter. A joy to behold!

  • Many thanks my friend, I’m glad one of my still lifes could enchant you.

    – Peter Zentjens

  • James Gibbs
    James Gibbsalmost 4 years ago

    Excellent creation! Awesome work!

  • Cheers James!

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Dwarkan
    Dwarkanalmost 4 years ago

    Superb capture…. your painting with light technique is amazing !
    (is the dummy now a believer ? may be I should try the technique on myself…)

  • Thanks a million Dwarkan, and yes, he is. As a matter of fact, he is reading the tutorial on Painting with Light right now… Oh, that wasn’t what you meant? ;^)

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Catherine Berger
    Catherine Bergeralmost 4 years ago

    lovely work and the light is terrific :)

  • Thanks Catherine, great to see you like the light. I pour a lot of love into my “painting”

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Luis Ferreiro
    Luis Ferreiroalmost 4 years ago

    Fantastic work and story!!! Oh yeah quite special lighting too…

  • Many thanks Luis

    – Peter Zentjens

  • debsphotos
    debsphotosalmost 4 years ago

    Peter..this is awesome…I’m of to look at your tutorials!!*-)

  • Cheers Deb en please do, it’s lot’s of fun!

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Mieke Boynton
    Mieke Boyntonalmost 4 years ago

    Beautifully composed and executed, Peter… It’s lovely :)

  • Ah, thank you so much Mieke.

    – Peter Zentjens

  • Rory Stapleton
    Rory Stapletonalmost 4 years ago

    Beautiful rich colouring, Peter…there is such a sense of calm, of tranquility in this composition…I like it very much…is your lighting source a yellow light or filtered as such? The introduction of a warm red with the candle and patterned beads really boosts the temperature of the piece.

  • Many thanks for your great comment Rory. As for your question, my lighting source is an old school flash light with an old school light bulb which gives warm yellowish light. I’m afraid of what will happen when it breaks, because light bulbs have become illegal and that type of lamp can no longer be found, only those horribly cold led light flash lights.
    As for the red candle, yes I tried to introduce a few extra warm colours, both with the candle and the background table cloth. And, I tried to keep most of my subject in the warm range by using lots of wood light the beads, the dummy en the thing that holds the bible. Add to that the colouration that’s a result of using a “wrong” white balance and you can get a very cosy mood.
    Thanks again for a lovely comment Rory.

    – Peter Zentjens

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