8th September 2011 Happy Birthday Peter Sellers

Peter Sellers Portrait recreation by Paul CopseyToday is Peter Sellers birthday, comic genious. Most people agree his best performances was as Chief Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther film series,  unless your name is Prince Charles in whcih case his best performances was as verious characters in the Goon Show. Either way he is one of my all time comic genius heroes, up there with Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, Spike Milligan, Buster Keaton, Tommy Cooper and Karl Pilkington. 

Furthermore, and there’s more, Peter Sellers was photographed in 1963 by my all time favourite social photographer, Bill Brandt. The image that Bill took of Sellers has become an icon of the comic genius. See Bill’s photo of Sellers here.  I have tried here to recreate this photo without the aid of Bill’s fav B&W Film of that era, Kodak TRI-X.

TRI-X  is 50+ year old old black and white film, the very high contrast tonal qualities of which are harsh and this gives it a very distinctive look to it. Tri-X has a high grain quality but still looks sharp.  Some photographers use it for its dream like quality which is not quite a mirror of reality. You can recreate this high contrast on digital but not so easy is to recreate its grain. I think digital grain is too linear for this and so this film has a different mood to digital.  My freezer still has a good stock and I must get a roll out soon.

Tech Stuff
Canon 5D MkII
f/4 – wanted to use 2.8 but too hard on mnaual focus when the camera is on timer (f/4 greater room for error)
1/2500 – very fast shutter to render the bright sunlit background dark
ISO 100
Strobe aimed at face so it kept newspaper darkish (would overexpose esaily otherwise)
Camera on tripod and timer as its a self portrait
Manual focus set by measuring the distance between camera and face (not newspaper)
contrast increased in photoshop but no grain added as cant recreate the analogue grain of Tri-X
With thanks to Bill Brandt for the inspiriation

Peter Sellers Portrait recreation by Paul Copsey

show hide 17 comments

Tera Sivic I visit your site every day now. Your site should be called “Free Photo Tips” or “Free Photo Training”. Thanks Tera

Chantel Chhoun Hah only difference was that in the original a broadsheet newpaper and yours was a tabloid. Anyway excellent

Paul Copsey Yes well I think the subject matter was better in the original, also his eyes were lit and I put mine in the shade for more mystery as my subject (which was me, a self portrait) has no mystery about him in real life :-)

LJ Images awsome post, awsome photo

Asparagus Nutrition I really your posts, well informed, but also entertaining!

Michelle Very nice Paul, i suggest setting up a forum on your site, so that us photographers can talk and communicate.

Paul Copsey Hi Michelle, this site has only just been set up so I dont think we have the visitor numbers as yet for a forum. Thanks for your interest. If … or when maybe … we get say 1,000 visitors a day then I will consider Cheers Paul

Garland Munce cool tri-X lives on

birthday wishes I agree with you Paul Copsey, fantastic post.

Antigua TT nice light, as you say, harsh, yes but good effect

Birgit Sisto Paul
Good photography tips

Rosina Mulvahill Hey! I am a Peter Sellers fan! a huge thumbs up for this post.

Arthur Caveness Paul you are as entertaining as PS himself

best photo scanner Hello there, simply continue using your fav old film like TRI-X then scan it to get the benfits of digital further processing. Best of both worlds. Cheers!

Paul Copsey Absolutely, I am with you on this one. Thanks Paul

Bono Creeatd the greatest articles, you have.

Marty entertaining post and picture!

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