Thumberlina and the birthday cake composite, Seth Godin on Creative Live

Thumberlina and the birthday cake composite

It took me three full days and nights to finish my composite with Thumberlina and the birthday cake. I'm going to tell about my motivation on creating this image and my process of photographing and compositing 

My motivation to create this image was my 30th birthday that I had in November 2015. It was one of the most miserable days of the year and I kept getting back to it because I put too much importance to my big 3-0. I was planning to spend it completely differently and the most important I planned to feel completely different. Unfortunately, it was one of the hardest emotionally and physically weeks of my 2015 and the birthday is something I still find hard to talk about. I meditated on it, dedicated endless amount of yoga practices and tried to let it go but seemed like I needed something else. 

Couple of weeks ago I met Joel Robison on an Instawalk in London and the next day he was doing a walk in the town he is based at the moment, Guilford, UK. I loved the place and Joel's company. It was a fantastic day. I've never created composites before so I had no ideas while I was with Joel. Few days after I came up with an idea to come back and try to "celebrate" my 30th birthday the best way I could think of. Thankfully, one of my best friends Ansa made time in her extremely busy schedule and we went to Guilford. We got lost, it took us 3 hours to find the bluebells field. I'm grateful to Joel's directions sent via messages how to get there. Finally we made it to the field and I photographed for this composite. 

The only thing I regret is not photographing more angles. But I made it work combining 10 images together. I watched several of Brooke Shaden courses that helped me a lot to put together my idea. 

I found it very hard to colour grade the image the way I imagined it in my head as I'm still learning how to do it. But my main idea was to create an image that will make people feel good, smile, maybe use it as a birthday card (I'm definitely going to print it and send to my grandmother's 78th birthday next months because she was the one reading a lot of fairy tales for me in my childhood). I thought maybe if my bad experience of my birthday will give birth to something that will bring good experiences into other people's lives I may see a reason of the way my birthday happened. I believe everything happens for some reason and at the end I'll see all the dots connected. 

I haven't written anything creative for quite a while. English being not my first language it always made me feel conscious of my writing and not being able to fully connect with the reader. But I felt like writing something under the image, something like a very short story with an uplifting message. Here it goes: 

"Thumberlina looked around but there was no one only a gigantic piece of cake. “What’s the point of the cake if there is no one to celebrate a birthday?” she thought. She looked around one more time. Absolutely no one. “If the cake is here all of its own it must be that someone is somewhere on her birthday without a cake…” Thumberlina’s thoughts went to this person, and she closed her eyes as tears formed. Not for too long though. Tiny people can only be sad for tiny split of a second. She wiped away her tears and giggled as another thought visited her mind: “That’s what happens to all those cakes which don’t make it to someone’s birthday!” She did a quick dance of joy and hurried to light a candle"  

How did I make it?

I took a photograph of my friend holding a stick in the same light conditions (on the same field). I asked her to stand on a stump to simulate the mushroom. That's how it looked: 

Then I asked my friend to hold a match same angle she was holding the log 

I photographed on a tripod to make sure everything matches easily at the end. I also photographed the scene around tilting the camera to be able to extend the scene. 

Lately I realised that it would be nice to have some out of focus bluebells but it was too late to return to the scene. Luckily I photographed a lot on the same day so I managed to take out of focus bluebells from completely different images with similar lighting. 

Here is the video of my layers. I didn't include colour grading because usually I flatten image and do it separately (at least for now): 

Seth Godin on CreativeLive

I watched a new Creative Live series on 30 days of genius and got inspired by Seth Godin (day 2 of the series). He suggested to write a blog every day on creative finds. The talk of Seth Godin made me write down three main things that I'm going to keep near my working space from now on not to forget. It's about art I'm creating. Three questions: 

  • "what is it for?" 
  • "will I be remembered when I'm gone?" 


  • "will this art change anyone?" 

The talk had such effect on me that I cancelled few things in order to help a visiting photographer with his shoot next week, to write a supportive message to another photographer whom I know look at me as an inspiration (and was often neglected because of me not making time for that). We had a conversation and I learnt about high sync speedlights and that I shall definitely try this out for my headshots. 


Putting together what I learnt from Seth Godin talk I feel like it's one of the first art pieces I created for a reason that is equally important for me and may change someone's view on birthdays (I was thinking about it a lot and realised that maybe people around don't realise it may be of such importance to someone as it was for me), maybe it will motivate someone to give this image as a card to someone whose birthday would be more miserable otherwise, maybe it will inspire some of my friends to create more fine art photography or go to near forest. 


Seth Godin (Day 2):

Brooke Shaden courses: