Back in 2014, with camera on one hand and a flash on a light stand on the other, I roamed the Renaissance Festival in Annapolis looking for willing, accurately clad subjects. Luckily, I found a handful who happily obliged.

Below is one of my favorites… an image of author, Eleanor Herman, who was promoting her book. I didn’t just want a snapshot of her so I asked her to pose like the character on the cover of her book, Murder In The Garden Of God. It took a few test shots, some repositioning of the light and subject, until I thought I achieved the “Rembrandt” style lighting on her.


Unretouched 2014 Renaissance Festival photograph of author Eleanor Herman, setup with Rembrandt lighting. Photo by Stevensville, MD Portrait Photographer.

For the non-photographers (and non-painters), “Rembrandt lighting is characterized by an illuminated triangle under the eye of the subject on the less illuminated side of the face.” (source: Wikipedia)

I thought the capture was good but I wanted to take it a step further. In my mind’s eye, I could see her in a library setting so I tried to look for free stock photos of libraries. Unsuccessful with my search, I put the project in the back burner.

Fast forward to 2016, while enjoying some free time from photography, I resumed my stock photo search and finally found the perfect image… and it was free! So before I proceed further, I’d like to credit the source even though it isn’t required… you can find the source image by izoca at THANK YOU VERY MUCH!


Pixabay Free Stock Photo: prague-980732.jpg


In Photoshop, I took my time carefully cutting out the subject from the original image and then began the compositing process. I scaled the subject using the chairs on the right-hand side for size reference, then toned the overall image to blend the subject with the background.

Once I was satisfied that the subject appeared to really “belong” in her environment, I moved to Lightroom for additional color grading and adjustments to make it look like a painting. For final touches, I did some dodging, burning and a vignetting to further lead the eye to the main subject.

This following slideshow summarizes the stages this image has gone through.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I thought the background image was too wide and the statue to the left and desk on the right didn’t add anything to the story. In fact, they only served as a distraction so I decided to crop them out.

Here’s the final image… what do you think? Does it look painterly?

You can find out more about Eleanor Herman and her works on her website at:

Mario Gozum is a portrait photographer/retoucher and owner of PointShoot Photgraphy, based in Kent Island, MD, serving the custom portrait and general photography needs of residents in the following counties and cities:

QUEEN ANNE’S COUNTY│Centreville, Chester, Stevensville, Grasonville, Queenstown
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY│Annapolis, Arnold, Crofton, Davidsonville, Fort Meade, Galesville, Glen Burnie, Harwood, Lake Shore, Lothian, Mayo, Millersville, Odenton, Pasadena, Riva, Severn, Severna Park, South Gate, South River
PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY│Bowie, Kettering, Lake Arbor, Mitchellville,Upper Marlboro
CALVERT COUNTY│Chesapeake Beach, Dunkirk, Owings
CAROLINE COUNTY│Odenton, Ridgely


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