I am realizing more and more how much of a creative influence Dare Wright's (MASTERPIECE!!!!) Lona; a Fairy Tale has had on me all my life and on what Halfland aspires to be. Could it be that I have backed into the secret of how some of its magic was achieved?!
On the right you see a detail of a page from this most beautiful of all books, featuring a bewitched toad (a former and to be once again prince) with a jewel embedded in his head. It's one of my favorite illustrations from her story, primarily because of the GORGEOUS distortion and blurring the maker reached as the long fingers holding the toad smear (see full frame below) in the most perfect, delicate, and beautiful stretches I've ever seen. Every illustration in the book is screamingly achingly alluring.
I had thought Dare Wright achieved the distortion effect with lenses. Many artists are currently practicing "free lensing" or lens whacking" to get wonderful aberrations in their captures. I was trying various methods like that in my test shots when I came across an spread in the WSJ magazine where the photographer Anthony Cotsifas and his stylist Michael Reynolds (who were in turn inspired by André Kertész's distortion series.) instead employed the use of carnival fun-house mirrors to photograph the still-life(s) for the editorial. The effect was dreamy, as any fantasy like Halfland should be presented, and watery and yet somehow also perfectly clear.
On the left and center above you see the small mirror (from Carnival Mirror) set up on the reversed pond set. Below, a few experiments shot directly into that mirror. I made a little stop motion test to see how the effect appeared in motion. Very very interesting.
Interesting enough to buy a larger mirror to possibly shoot several scenes of the film.