One of my fortes is making scenes with dead mice and photographing them. These mice were killed by friend's cats and left cosmetically perfect. They'd be frozen until their debut. I screwed the camera to a tripod and documented the process of making the picture "the Bath" from beginning to end and here is that photo essay.
A small garden had to be planted. I transferred tiny flowering plants from the bluff and woods and made a garden of different mosses with a backdrop of mint and sweet woodruff. Everything had to bloom on the same day so timing was critical. I nestled the porcelain bathtub into the garden on four smooth stones from the beach and let the plants grow up around it for a couple of weeks so the scene would look natural and lived in. Then I waited for it to bloom.
In the meantime a ladder had to be crafted from an arbutus branch and lashed together. Luckily I am a Girl Guide and can do these things.
The little garden had to be watered every other day by dipping the watering can into the swamp and carrying it up the hill.
A perfect mouse had to be chosen. There were over 30 contestants. I'd been collecting and saving them in the freezer for over a year.
The mouse was glued to the ladder and clamped with clothes pins and bulldog clips until the glue set.
Much hand washing was done throughout the whole process.
Pollywogs were caught to populate the bathtub. Millipedes were wrangled to crawl up a leaf and curl in the moss. The millipedes behaved admirably during the shoot. The pollywogs, however, failed to surface at the required time.
When the garden bloomed there would be two days when it was at its peak. Then I had to wait for the light, so the mouse went into the freezer on her ladder until the right sunbeam came along. Throughout the day I tried different light, each time transferring the mouse and ladder back to the freezer to await the next opportunity. Finally in the evening the sun came through the branches to illuminate the scene perfectly. I clicked the shutter for a minute or two and then the sunbeam was gone and so were the millipedes.
Afterward many hours were spent in post processing on the computer to tweak the colours, crop, and bring light to the parts of the picture I want to emphasize. The picture came out of the camera rather dull but I brought back the colours and the warmth of the light in a program called Lightroom.
To see more mouse scenes look on this site under http://www.raineyroost.com/mice.html
Jay Rainey is an artist living on an island in British Columbia, Canada.