Shooting Velazquez in Madrid
Shooting Velazquez in Madrid
Next to the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain you will find an amazing full-size statue of Velazquez sitting on a chair holding a paintbrush with a pallet, and tiento next to him. His sword and cloak are hung over the back of the chair and the painter’s image is very naturalistic and faithful to his portraits.
The statue was done by Aniceto Marinas, a famous Spanish sculptor, who recreated it in meticulous detail. It is so stunning, that when I saw the statue, I could not help immediately taking photos. The full shoot was done over 3 days due to changing weather conditions.
The first day was bright and sunny, but the statue was in the shadow of the Prado Museum and the garden, that blocked out most of the sun. At the beginning, there weren’t many people around, so I was able to take around over photos with my Nikon photo camera. Later I faced a problem – it was a Sunday and the museum has a free access every Sunday from 5 to 7 pm, so a large cue of people slowly built up and stretched around the museum to where I was shooting and I had to call it a day.
I returned a few weeks later on a cloudy day to use my DJI Mavic mini drone to get photos of the top and side of the statue. These photos are needed for proper virtual reconstructions and I was able to shoot around 150 photos starting from the top down and then slowly circling the statue to get the details of Velazquez’ face, the chair as well as the palette and the sword.
I was also able to use a carbon-fiber 3-meter standing tripod to get 180 degree vertical shots around the chair and base of the statue using my Nikon camera, that helped to combine the drone photos with the camera photos of the shoot that was done on the first day.
After an hour of shooting a police car turned up – this happens quickly in Madrid where, even though it’s legal to use drones outside if they are less then 250g in weight, the police are against anyone shooting the Spanish patrimony for some reason. But my goal is to share the world, so I decided it was best to return on another day even though the conditions were perfect.
I was able to process all the images I had after the second shoot and could see where I needed more detail – mainly in the statue’s face. I also needed more top-down drone photos. I returned a few days later and was able to get everything else needed to complete the shoot.
On the final day I also tried to get the “money shots” done, so I took my time to do some photos from properly artistic angles, both close to the statue and from a distance. Since it was a generally overcast day, they were a bit blown out and didn’t have as much contrast as I would have liked, but overall everything came out great, especially after the magic of lightroom was applied!
You can see the top photos in the gallery below attached to this post. Feel free to try out the virtual reconstruction – it allows you to explore the statue as if you were actually there, and you can see it from just about every angle.