I'm interested in an analysis of a photograph I've chosen by Joachim Froese.

What techniques are used in the creation and the composition of the photo. What ideas and concepts are involved?

Rhopography #16

  • 1
    Is this homework?
    – mattdm
    May 14, 2019 at 0:17
  • No, I just want to do a photo Analysis. As I've never done one before I had hoped someone could help me out.
    – user82988
    May 14, 2019 at 0:19
  • 2
    Sure, we can definitely help with that. Are you interested in analysis of Froese as a photographer overall, or of this photograph in particular?
    – mattdm
    May 14, 2019 at 0:38
  • Just this specific photograph. Thanks!
    – user82988
    May 14, 2019 at 0:42
  • 1
    @mattdm +1 for the retitle, retag, and revisions.
    – xiota
    May 14, 2019 at 1:06

2 Answers 2


According to Froese's website, the shots from this series were not digital but in fact analogue.
These are most likely split prints from one single image. This would mean Froese went in to the darkroom and finally printed his negative or positive on three sheets of light sensitive paper, adding a border in the process by bursting the edge with unfiltered light.

The DOF is very narrow, maybe 2cm tops. For this, he most likely used a macro lens, or seeing the time frame of these shots, used bellows to enable him to get a large 1:1 (or bigger) picture of the subject, which would result in such a narrow DOF. Given how he shot the images on film, it's likely he used a medium or large format camera, as these give a distinctive DOF. My bet is on LF.

The light source appears to come from around the camera's position. The photographer possibly used a softbox to soften the shadows, but I can't tell. Whether he used any other equipment, such as filters, would be hard to tell without knowing the colours of the scene.

  • Don't forget about paying that nice moth to hold the pose for a few.
    – OnBreak.
    May 14, 2019 at 16:06
  • Yes you're right @Hueco, treat your models well
    – timvrhn
    May 14, 2019 at 18:10
  • 1
    Do you think there is symbolism in this photo?
    – user82988
    May 14, 2019 at 19:22
  • @Ineedhelp This seems like a homework question now..
    – timvrhn
    May 14, 2019 at 19:26
  • 2
    @Hueco You can put your thoughts about the symbolism, associations, etc in your answer. Even though it's not what OP has asked for, it is interesting and does fit with "photo-critique". I suspect there are others who would welcome it as well.
    – xiota
    May 14, 2019 at 22:07

Specifically regarding the lighting...

Lighting can most easily be determined by looking at reflections and shadows. Since we don't have any reflections in this shot, we have to look at shadows:

enter image description here

The direction indicates where the light was coming from. In this case, it appears to be from over the photographer's right shoulder and above the camera.

The edge softness let's us know about the light source. This isn't a hard edge, but it is very well defined. Think about your shadow when photographed using the on-camera flash. The edges are harder than a chalk-outline - and you'd do well to avoid both in life. Now, think about your (almost non-existent) shadow on a cloudy, overcast day. This is the spectrum from point light source to diffuse light source.

In this case, the light is slightly diffused, indicating some sort of small light modifier (soft box, octobox, bed-sheet...only the shooter will know but it's important to note the effect on the light).

There is a thin dark shadow that runs more than the width of the moth that would seem to indicate that the above lighting set-up is not the whole story. However, I suspect that this is a thin tube that is being used to suspend the moth like a marionette. The tube is casting its own shadow from the main light based on wherever its position in space is relative to the light.

The lighting of the background is such that the light fades as you travel up. While it's possible to light backgrounds away from subjects (a-la portraits), in this case I think the background was allowed to be lit by the main light and the fall-off was naturally there from bottom to top due to the angle of the main light on the subject.

Regarding the set-up...it looks to be using a photographic muslin laid out on a table and then curved up to create the background. Rocks and dirt were then added to give some extra detail to the image and to break up the texture of the muslin.

I thought death in this photo could have been one, because of the black and white image we are unsure(unless we google) if the creature is alive or dead

Moths don't generally strike a pose like this - it is very unnatural. If the moth isn't dead, it's frozen/refrigerated or something was used to paralyze it (probably within an inch of its life). Personally, I'm against harming animal/bug subjects and generally try to avoid interacting with them at all (look, don't touch).

Regarding the symbolism of the photo..I don't see any symbolism of death in this photo, as you do. There is a very big difference between using a dead bug in an image and creating a symbolic representation of death meant to inspire thought or invoke an emotional response. Simply using the former does not create the latter.

  • I disagree on the first point. Look at the right side of the moth, you can see the shadow tapers on both sides. I think the right shadow is hidden a tad behind a bit of debris, but it's there. I reckon the light is about where the camera was, if not a just a tad to the right. Regardless, very useful information, +1
    – timvrhn
    May 14, 2019 at 18:12
  • @TimStack Actually, I'm not sure about that line. It extends from the right all the way to the left and is darker than the moth's own shadow. The background DoF transitions a little suddenly (could be just this smaller jpg version) - but I wonder if there wasn't some prop holding the moth up that cast that shadow that's been removed from this photo?
    – OnBreak.
    May 14, 2019 at 18:20
  • @TimStack actually, check out this: joachimfroese.com/uploads/4/9/6/0/49603091/9885017_orig.jpg specifically the second panel from the right. I think it's the same muslin and that line is present, indicating it may be a stain?
    – OnBreak.
    May 14, 2019 at 18:26
  • You see those all over those photos, seem like shadows from the "flying" butterflies, or at least it was made to seem like them. Not sure if that's a stain or even the same muslin
    – timvrhn
    May 14, 2019 at 19:25
  • @TimStack now I'm wondering if maybe the shooter used some sort of rig where the bug was attached to string and a stick, like a marionette (albeit with some really, really thin string). The line could be the shadow cast from the attachment, and makes sense being directly above the bug and in the way of the light path. Would also account for it causing a darker, more distinct shadow.
    – OnBreak.
    May 14, 2019 at 19:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.