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Elegy of Autumn

by Dina Bova
Published the 26th of August 2020

When people look at my work from this series they’re always wondering whether these spheres are real or generated in post-processing. What do you think?

In this artwork I wanted to give a glance into a day in the life of an old couple living together in a small apartment, but each in their own personal world with their own secrets. It’s also a story about immigrants living in a tiny apartment, still keeping their old festive clothing and other memorable things from their previous life. Maya has a beautiful old Soviet tea set that she has kept from her former life in the Soviet Union. One of the small joys in their modest lives is drinking tea while watching TV. It’s a story of people who live a modest life, but with dignity.


Nikon D800  .  Nikkor 24-70mmf/2.8  .  f/2.8

Maya and Moses live in a hostel for elderly people. They’re both friends of my husband’s mother, and that's how I met them. They’re sympathetic and unusual people, and they found my idea very interesting. I also showed them some of my latest artwork, and they were happy and excited to contribute their part to art.

"Using real spheres ensured that I would make no mistakes in reflections or distortions. That said, I had to be careful as I was shooting so I did not create any unwanted reflections from my light sources."

The spheres are plastic globes used on streetlights. Using real spheres ensured that I would make no mistakes in reflections or distortions. That said, I had to be careful as I was shooting so I did not create any unwanted reflections from my light sources. The most natural place for this photo shoot was at their home. Maya’s apartment had a window from the side, and a sidelight is better than a front light, which can make faces look flat.

The apartment was very small and I didn’t have many options regarding the position of the camera. So I put it on a tripod as far away as possible from the sofa and used a 24 mm focal length, which is considered a wide angle for full-frame cameras. I didn’t use any flashes; instead, I used my powerful LED flashlight (TrustFire TR-J12) through a piece of cloth, to diffuse the light and make it softer. It created a small spot reflection in the spheres, but it was easy to remove later in post-processing. I set the camera to an aperture of f/8 to make sure I had enough depth to capture sharp details on both the fruit and the faces.

I printed and framed two images as a gift for Maya and Moses, and I also printed this work in a large format 36×48" (90×120cm) to be showcased in my next solo exhibition in Israel.




This is the original photo

I used Adobe Lightroom 4 to remove noise and to adjust the exposure on the RAW image, and then exported the image to Adobe Photoshop CS6 to perform the major digital manipulation.

1) I wanted to exaggerate the feeling of a small boxlike space, so I added a wall on the right side, which also improved the composition. I built the wall in Photoshop using additional shots of the wall.



2) I also wanted to convey a nostalgic atmosphere. There was a feeling of autumn where these people lived. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any dried leaves because this photo shoot occurred in the winter, but I had some pictures of autumnal leaves in my archives. I applied them in a separate layer, set the blending mode to Overlay, and used layer masks and a soft Brush to hide irrelevant parts of the leaf image.


3) I removed unwanted reflections on the spheres and emphasized the light in their eyes.

4) I then applied several old paper textures from my archives and set each layer's blending mode to Soft Light.

5) I used several Color Balance adjustment layers and Curves adjustment layers, all with layer masks added to them to achieve the greenish-gray hue.


1) I think it’s important to know what you want to say in the artwork and what emotion it should convey. So each stage of planning, execution and post-processing should bring the image closer to your goal.

2) During the photo shoot, try to provide the necessary conditions so that the models will feel relaxed and comfortable. This includes choosing a place familiar to them for your location. Pause during the shoot and discuss ideas together. It’s also helps if the models know each other and are in a friendly relationship.

3) It’s good practice to collect potential materials like textures and objects — they might be useful one day. In this work I used leaves and textures from my photo archives.

4) At the end of the session, take a few photos of the empty space without models, such as the walls, windows and other elements in the environment. You might need them later, so take some photos while you can.

I was born in Moscow in 1977 and moved to Israel at the age of 13. I am an algorithm engineer by profession, specializing in computer vision algorithms. I started classic photography during my travels around the world. In my early photographs I tried to “seize the moment” and document the events in the surrounding world. But one day I felt constrained by classic photography, so I turned my camera from the outside world to the inner world and started creating my own world of subjective reality with a total freedom of expression and technique. In this world it is difficult to tell where reality ends and fiction begins.

I think art is something that appeals to our senses and emotions, and not to our intellect or instincts. My art is a world of imagination and the subconscious. There you may encounter some strange or even absurd characters, but all of these characters are echoes of real events and real emotions. I get my inspiration from many sources, such as allegories, mysticism and philosophy. There, tough questions are asked — existential questions that help us to look inside ourselves, into the farthest corners of our souls.
Who are we? Why did we come into this world? What is beauty? How do we preserve our uniqueness?
You will not find definitive, clear-cut answers or ready-made recipes. However, I believe that the feelings you will experience will remain inside you and excite your imagination for a long time. You will keep asking yourself these questions and seek your own answers.


Thanks, Yvette for publishing my tutorial and thanks, guys, for your comments!
This image gives a strange feeling, or more precisely a sense of a strange world. Perhaps the Covid situation "helps" us to think the scene is NOT totally unrealistic. The persons are not young persons, the furnitures as well, and the plastic spheres right in the middle of the picture throw us in the unknown, in an not so far future. Or was it yesterday? was it this morning?... It is a very strong image although people are smiling, drinking a cup of tea. Something terrible has happened or will. Perhaps. Congratulations Michel
thank you!
I will present my personal perception from this wonderful scene. As a former citizen of the Soviet Union, I went through a time when people could not leave their homeland, and the time when they finally got the opportunity to leave. Many have left. My friends, relatives, acquaintances ... It is possible that I too would have left Russia, but there were circumstances that were not favorable for this. I still communicate with many people on Skype. With relatives in the United States almost every day. Almost everyone with whom I communicate is happy with their departure and existing life. And if someone suddenly shows dissatisfaction, then I answer them that I have a large 2-storey house with a plot, in which we live together with my wife and if they want, they can always return. I will provide them with one floor, over 100 sq.m. They love their homeland, miss it, but no one expresses a desire to return. )) ... I am writing this because the color of autumn is still not clearly green. There is more yellow. And yellow carries warmth. I think and hope that the autumn of these old people is more warm. And they themselves radiate warmth in their eyes. Nice job, nice photo. Thank you.
thanks, Vladimir!
An excellent artwork!
Thanks, Ralf ... the bubbles (spheres) are making it very up to date!
thanks, Ralf :)