7/52 Garden State

Continuing from last week, this week I pay homage to Garden State another one of my favorite films. Nowadays, especially after Zach Braff’s release of kickstarter funded I Wish I was Here, there seems to be a wave of hatred for this film. However despite whatever  contemporary popular opinions may say about this movie, this little indie gem was something I enjoyed and re-watched at random, yet similar moments growing up.

52 by Melly Lee (mellylee.com)


Garden State was released theatrically in 2004. At the time I was an awkward sophomore in high school and really did not care for movies that didn’t have bad guys getting a hefty dose of justice or giant explosions. So when all my buddies decided to go watch Zach Braff’s film that made them feel things –I really didn’t care. Seriously what is up with all those deadpans…

It wasn’t until I started my odyssean journey towards self discovery and emotional intelligence did I connect with the film. Specially there were two scenes that seemed to visually illustrate the indescribable emotions churning within with me: 1) the scene where Andrew Largeman is baked on a couch and everyone moves at hyper speed around high 2) the slow scene in which Andrew’s mom dies and then he stands against a wallpaper covered wall in a matching patterned shirt. For me these scenes represented me watching the rest of my peers discovering their purpose and rapidly making moves to achieve greatness while I was stuck frozen and unsure or myself moving so slow that I eventually would fade into the background. I’m positive we must all encounter emotions of ambiguity and uncertainty at some point.



The trick to pulling off this shot is match the pattern of your clothes to the wall or vice versa. The original scene from the film is most likely done in camera by a production designer (I’m 99.9% sure of that!) Since I didn’t have a fancy production for my little project my shot is done in post.

First I set up a soft box slightly above and to the side of me. From the movie screenshot you can see that there’s just a slight amount of side light giving Zach a bit of separation from the wall.


Once lighting was set I just needed to compose the shot for a medium portrait and put on my best lost, derpy gaze.



And if you’re wondering what camera I shot with, surprise it’s not my D800! I recently got my hands on an OM-D E-M1  with a 12-40mm f/2.8 and wanted to test out the four-thirds camera.


Next and probably most importantly I needed to shoot a flat version of my shirt to create the wallpaper in post. Steaming the shirt beforehand is a must. If you have any wrinkles they’ll show up when you’re trying to make the wallpaper and the illusion will be killed!


In post you will crop a square of the pattern you want, then go to Edit > Define Pattern.


Once you’ve defined the pattern Photoshop will now fill any layer with the pattern repeatedly. In the screenshot below you can see the multiple trial I took to find the right pattern combination.

Screen Shot 2014-09-13 at 2.56.08 AM

Finally all that is left is to fill an empty layer with your shirt pattern and then mask around yourself.


If you can’t laugh at yourself, life is going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like. – Sam (Garden State)

Equipment Used:

OM-D E-M1 Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera
M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens
Induro Alloy 8M AT214 Tripod
Pocketwizard N10-ACC-1 Remote Camera Cable (1′)
Pocketwizard Plus III Transceiver

More on Project 52:

Why I’m taking the challenge: blog.mellylee.com/2014/09/52-week-challenge
Week 6: blog.mellylee.com/2014/09/652-never-give-good-luck-will-find


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