Droste Facebook Banner

A while back I experimented with making images with the Droste effect. I planned to do some serious pictures but I never got so far as the plugin I was using had a few issues with my installation, and now I no longer have the required software.  Perhaps in the future.

For this Facebook banner I did the effect manually in Photoshop. The montage was actually very straight forward to do, I hardly even have to make a list! Here is one anyway.

  1. Take a photograph with your hand resting on the back of a chair or similar.
  2. Extract yourself from the picture, copy yourself while rotating and scaling up your new image. Make the hand of the new you fit on your previous shoulder. Repeat.
  3. Finally, mix together some space images from Nasa as the background, crop and upload to Facebook!

And yeah, that’s about it. I did add some shadows and as always adjust colors, contrast etc. Nothing too complex. The hardest part was actually framing my portrait, I didn’t want more than one copy of my face to be visible as the Droste effect was supposed to be a surprise when people view my profile. And as usual all of this was done late one night when I had the inspiration, it was a bit tricky to not look sleepy though.

The banner and portrait was up for quite some time, during that time I actually had to update the set because Facebook changed the size of the portrait that is shown on the profile page, which made the portrait look separate from the banner due to misalignment! Still, I have realized that on mobile devices the portrait jumps around everywhere and the banner is cropped differently so it will always be broken for someone.

As I think the compression shown in the top image just looks awful I will include the full banner again here to the right, then using the source file instead of a screenshot. I’ll skip the high resolution of the portrait as it just shows one person anyway, making it fairly uninteresting. To get the high resolution for the portrait I edited the whole project in as high a resolution I could, depending on the original photograph, and then I just scaled down the banner when I exported.

About Andreas Aronsson

Professional app- & web-developer. Spare time multimedia experimenter, VR-enthusiast, motorcyclist. In Sweden.
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2 Responses to Droste Facebook Banner

  1. bmbrn says:

    Hi, your blog is very interesting!

    And you “drosting” on outer space… is so cool!
    I thought I just share some thoughts about this work…

    Something looked kind of “unnatural”, but for me it was hard to find out what was it…

    At the beginning I thought it was just a matter of light:
    Your right hand fingers being much brighter than your left shoulder… ends up optically suggesting that the hand is actually floating on the foreground (the smaller guy standing alone some steps back).
    – This might be addressed by brightening up the left part of your body – I thought.

    But then I seemed to notice that “size” also plays a role:
    Your right hand being much larger than expected if it really was to rest on your shoulder… again suggesting that the hand is closer to the observer than the shoulder.
    – A solution? A wide angle lens could provide for the amount of distortion necessary to make the hand relatively smaller than the shoulder… (but that would require shooting the subject more from the side…).

    But then I thought that an easier solution might be reverting the order of the whole chain: Now you have larger guys reaching into the foreground to have their hands rest on the shoulders of guys who are “smaller”…
    But shouldn’t this intuitively be rather the opposite? I mean… How about having small guys reach into the foreground to rest their hands of the shoulders of larger guys?

  2. Ah, I see what you mean! You have done a very throughout analysis of this, I’m impressed!

    The effect I initially planned was for it to look like a larger person was holding his hand on my shoulder, as in the profile picture the rest of my other selves are hidden by the crop, this way the size difference helped me with the illusion that it was not my own hand but someone larger. In addition it also made it easier to fill out that side of the Facebook banner, if the people would have gotten smaller instead they would quite soon be gone entirely, leaving the rest of the banner empty.

    I like the idea of utilizing a wider angle lens and angling my body so the shoulder looks larger while the hand still reaches forward, that could look very nice if you get the proportions right. Reversing the order is probably easier, as you say, but I’m not sure I will do it with this version as it’s a finished and done project and I’m not really fond of the photo itself so I’d rather make a new one when I get the time :)

    Also, about the lighting, it should look off as the cutout is rotated for each clone so the shadows and highlights are incorrect between all of them, it’s subtle but there if you look closer. This problem is much harder to correct though, unless you use very uniform lighting (it will look flat!) or take multiple exposures with the lighting moved for each frame, but that would probably be more work than it’s worth.

    Thank you very much for your feedback, it sure made me think and it will probably affect my thought process in future projects :D Cheers!

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