Revisit one of the exercises on daylight, artificial light or studio light from Part Four (4.2, 4.3 or 4.4) and prepare it for formal assignment submission:
Create a set of between six and ten finished images. For the images to work naturally as a series there should be a linking theme, for instance a subject, or a particular period of time.Include annotated contact sheets of all of the photographs that you’ve shot for the exercise .
The set is a sequence of self-portraits looking to capture an instinctual response to being transported into the imaginary. As the story is unfolding so is the camera, capturing in successive motion the body language as a result of being enchanted by the book.The concept is exploring the idea of immersing in reading and getting lost in an imaginary world. To achieve this I used long exposures as I felt this technique can portray effectively an out of body experience .The sequence has beginning ,middle and end .In the beginning most of the information is in focus and then gradually it becomes blurry to finish with a frontal gaze that engages the viewer but also gives a sense of awakening from slumber.
There is only one source of light –an iPhone torch. I wanted to capture a sort of night reading mood ,reminiscent of my teenage years when I was hiding under covers reading, using a torch.I found using the iPhone torch easy to manipulate and interesting to use for the fact that it’s portable and I could place it in unusual angles.My tutor also suggested that it works great as a statement against overusing our gadgets .We live in an age where we are glued to our phones, hardly reading from books when everything is electronic so using it as a flash light to enable book reading seems fitting.
Initially I wanted to go outside and use the night lights,reflections,lamp posts as per Ruth Blees Luxembourg’s work but I didn’t find it inspiring at all , even though I’ve seen some great examples from other colleagues as well.It’s strange because out of all other photographers i’ve researched in this part ,the work that stood out to me was Rut Blees Luxembourg’s but when it came down to attempting the same style,it just didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel any connection.So i’m happy just admiring her work .
In order to understand lighting better I started looking at old masters and got a bit fixated with Caravaggio and his chiaroscuro technique that ultimately led cinematographers into creating film noir.Controversial as it was Caravaggio remains a creative mastermind that used innovation in his time to achieve some of the most beautiful works of art that exists.And the use of the Camera Obscura shows the lengths he would go to achieve this.There is something truly inspiring in the way he used light,mostly just one source.A great example is “The Calling of Saint Matthew”, where the light spreads from right to left, highlighting the important points – Christ’s hand, the money ,the cross in the window, Matthew’s gesture and so on .
Caravaggio “The Calling of Saint Matthew.” 1599–1600. Oil on canvas.
Having researched the masters of Renaissance and Baroque , I wanted to bring a little bit of period drama into my set by using a white cotton chemise with long bell sleeves.Even though there are some Baroque influences in the composition i still wanted a contemporary look so i kept the hair style . Both the hair and costume worked great in achieving movement and interesting shadows.
In comparison to the daylight exercise this felt so much more controllable .To begin with ,I wanted this set to be B&W as I didn’t really think the colour was achieving the eerie feeling I was trying to portray.I’ve posted the set on the forum for feedback and the reaction was split .Some preferred the B&W version some didn’t .One of the tutor (Clive White) stepped in and advised me to tweak the levels in the colour version and this helped me make up my mind .After sleeping on it and looking again with fresh eyes I felt the B&W version seemed theatrical and wasn’t contributing to my concept.
I’ve always thought I should stay away from using Photoshop until I learn what the camera can do on its own as I didn’t want to become to reliant on the software.It’s been a great exercise so far but I feel I’ve also limited myself a bit .Saying this ,it is most certainly a foreign territory and I find myself getting lost quite easy but I suppose practice makes perfect or at least better.You can find the forum discussion here.
In regards to B&W vs colour ,after pushing the white point in Photoshop to adjust the levels I realised that the colour version is no longer just tonal but it actually adds to the dimension instead of defining it.The B&W set looked staged in comparison and while naturally, mono usually creates a very dramatic context in this case it wasn’t adding to my concept.I think it’s easy to accept B&W as a quick fix in achieving a dramatic setting. This is simply because we are not wired to see the world in black and white and this forces us to give up our sense of colour by stripping everything down to form and tonal range.This is not to say that there is no beauty in black and white,there certainly is, but not when it’s used for it’s “forgiving” nature.
Final Selection :
Being mindful of my tutor’s suggestion I changed the order and replaced a photograph in order to convey my idea more successfully.You can view the old selection and sequencing here .
ISO 100 45mm f/9.0 2s
ISO 100 45mm f/5.0 2sec
ISO 1600 29mm f/20 1.6sec
ISO 1600 29mm f/20 1.6sec
ISO 100 45mm f/8.0 2sec
ISO 1600 20 mm f/20 1.6sec
A4 Contact Sheet