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MOOD AND ATMOSPHERE
Lucinda Chua is a freelance British photographer. Born in London and raised in the countryside, her initial career path was a musical one. In 1998 she was awarded a scholarship to study cello, piano and singing along with classical composition, but by 2007 she graduated from Nottingham Trent University with a First Class BA Degree in Photography. Not only is she a recognised, award winning “Young Artist” she’s worked for the BBC and Channel 4. A recent shoot of her’s was a promotional event for BBC broadcaster Charlie Brooker. It’s fair to say she is gaining momentum in the field very quickly. She comes under the classification of Mood & Atmosphere thanks to a number of different components including props, prop placement, lighting and colour.

This double image from her “Selected Portraits” work. The image is entitled “Lacrosse at Johnson State College” and depicts 2 lacrosse players in the hallway of their school. The spotlighting on the walls behind them and the fill in flash (bounced off the ceiling by the looks of things) accentuating details in their facial expressions create that sombre tone. There’s a feeling of angst. Her subjects are vital to what she does, as using the same techniques with subjects of a different age group or sex just wouldn’t work in the same way. The subject choice adds such nuances as the possibility of peer pressure and their scraggly, worn out appearance makes me think they’re exhausted.

Sarah Hobbs was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1970, and began to photograph when she was seven years old. She studied photography in the University of Georgia and has become a well known contemporary photographer. Her work is said to be an embodiment of negative human traits. There’s a distinct lack of human presence in all of her work which allows her to focus entirely on her prop usage to put across said negative traits to the viewer. The following image is Untitled, released in 2002.

It shows a writing desk in a room with plain walls and a window in the background. There is a consuming number of discarded pieces of paper littered heavily in on the floor, so much so that the papers are stacked higher then the level of the writing desk itself. This is a beautiful metaphor for the number of discarded ideas a creative person will have to find the perfect creation. The use of discarded paper is a perfect visual representation and shows that if these physical paper ideas weren’t discarded as easily as our mental musings then our minds would be the same; cluttered up to breaking point.

Alfred Hitchcock was a motion picture director whose most well known work is his 1960 picture ‘Psycho’. Widely considered to be the greatest film director that ever lived, he’s a household name today. He had a troubled upbringing; his parents were said to be exceedingly strict, his father on occasions sending him to the police station with a note asking the sheriff to lock him up. His mother would make him stand at the foot of her bed for hours when he misbehaved. It is experiences like this that gave birth to the iconic Norman Bates character from “Psycho”, arguably the most moody/atmospheric motion picture ever, suspenseful in every last second. I think for an artist to hold his ideas so close to his heart as Hitchcock did with this particular film and character, is what wields the greatest reproduction of these feelings in the chosen artistic medium. Psycho was filmed in Black & White so the tonal use of colour wasn’t there for him as a tool to contribute to the atmosphere of the film. Instead he had the entire field of shadowing at his disposal.

This particular screen shot from Psycho is from a scene where the main protagonist is driving down a highway in the rain. It’s a very suspenseful scene where the most eerie score imaginable plays the sonic landscape, accentuated further by the lack of dialogue. It’s becoming more and more apparent that to create atmosphere with a human presence, the effectiveness of the mood relies heavily on the subject’s ability to create the mood and not just the skill of the photographer/cinematographer.

ABSTRACT IMAGES

Aaron Siskind (born 1904, died 1901) was a respected American abstract photographer. He didn’t dabble in photography until he received a small camera as a wedding present. It’s said that he started taking images on his honeymoon and realised the truly immense artistic potential of the medium soon after. He worked in the same faculty as another photographer, Harry Callahan, from 1950 in a number of design schools. His photography centres mostly around the study of natural subjects and architecture. A lot of his work is an expressionistic style; that is to say it makes little sense conventionally. You may say it’s meaning is open to interpretation, but its beauty is an unquestionable constant. His early work in social circles was based on nudes and their depiction through inanimate objects, but later on in his career he “radicalised” the photographic medium by implementing the abstract form of expression.

Paul Strand was an American abstract photographer raised in New York. He had a basic interest in photography until visiting art galleries in school urged him to develop his hobby into a passion. He since became a pioneering photographer, helping it become a recognised art form throughout the 20th century. He also made motion pictures for a time, his first collaborative effort entitled “Manhatta”, a silent film, was released in 1921. He was first exposed to abstract type images at the age of 17 when studying with Lewis W Hine. The majority of his abstract work concerns light falling upon man made structures, the subsequent shadows and how the shadows affect such things as form and shape. The following image from 1915 was taken on Wall Street, New York, the most prolific financial district in the world. It deals with those very elements, light and shadow. The gaping monolithic archways of the adjacent building bombard the viewer with a geometric  presence. Perspective is another huge factor here; the rectangles become smaller with distance and the parallel shadows of the businessmen are elongated, signifying the possibility that the sun was still rising when the photo was taken.

Craig McDean is a much younger photographer (born 1964) and is most widely recognised for his fashion photography. Though he was born in Manchester, he now works and lives in New York city.  He originally planned for a different career as a car mechanic. With a starting point as Nick Knight’s (another recognised photographer) assistant, his editorials appeared in small magazines; he was soon featured in huge figures in the fashion industry such as Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue including work for Calvin Klein advertisement campaigns. His work takes root primarily in fashion photography, but there are a lot of abstract elements throughout his visual designs. This photo shows Uma Thurman’s shoot for a magazine. Her hair, clothes, make up and expression are all typically fashion-shoot standard. The most noticeably abstract part of the image is the overlaid graphic design element of a butterfly. Adding in graphics that stem from a non-photographic root is an intriguing idea. While the graphic in this instance covers the face of the actress, masking her features slightly, the butterfly in tern enhances her beauty in a natural sense. The graphic is also symmetrical and gives the illusion of symmetry in the subject it’s concealing.

Other abstract techniques Craig McDean adds to his otherwise-conventional fashion images include using light-altering props like this tinted perspex, and having the model spit colourful fluid toward the camera.

CHALLENGING CONVENTION

Uta Barth is a 53 year old German photographer who grew up in Berlin and has since emigrated to Los Angeles. She challenges convention with her work with the absence of any foreground objects. Much of her work breaks certain conventional rules of most modern photography as it isn’t focused sharply. She’s featured in many great galleries and museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim. Her work is said to be “suggestive” and not descriptive; I think this implies in a sense that it is up to the viewer to make what they like of it. A viewer may feel the following image is just a wall, a blank pointless image of plain white. Others may see an empty canvas, to fill with what you wish. Barth opposes a conventional, archival approach to photography put forth by the Dusseldorf school of photographers by capturing image of home interiors with natural lighting. In some instances of her work the lighting will produce a beautiful gradient of changing colour. She’s also experimented with natural subjects like trees and branches. With these pictures, she used post production techniques to alter their appearance such as inversion, and other artificial colour reproduction methods. A great deal of these images are so artificially affected, they begin to take on a photogram-type quality.

Alexey Titarenko studied for his degree of fine art from the Department of Cinematic and Photographic Art at Leningrad’s Institute of Culture in 1983. Because of soviet ties in the country, and being an artist independent of communist propaganda, he wasn;t able to openly declare himself as a photographic artist until 1989 when he created Ligovka 99, a photographers’ exhibition space that was independent of the Communist ideology. He works almost exclusively with black & white and his primary focus is long exposure and multiple exposure imagery. The following image is a multiple exposure shot with each individual image being overlayed onto eachother. This is what causes the people to blur into a dust cloud effect while the still constants, like the railing, stairs and background building, remain solid. Because the people and by extension, all life in the image is incinerated by the dust effect, the majority of his work has a deathly apocalyptic feeling.  “The City of Shadows” (the body of work of which this image is presented) deals repeatedly with this burning of life. Even in other works where this precise process doesn’t occur, the people are still blurred slightly by long exposure, or the contrast and tonal quality of the images make that eerie vibe. His prints are all square format, so medium or large format, and I think the use of film and the grain it can produce are other contributing factors to this feeling.

Nancy Burson is know as quite an eccentric photographer. Her main abstract work comes in the form of composites; these are multiple images that are combined and overlaid to make a new image. Most notably, she works with facial features, taking segments of different people’s faces to combine a completely new person. The fantastic thing about it is the believability of the new creation. The following image is a composite. It’s a creation that combines the speculated typical features of Lord Jesus Christ, the Prophet Muhammed, and Buddha. It’s a very clever concept of religion, that all deities are one, they all have an origin in the same story and have been taken apart and adapted for different groups of people around the world. What’s most intriguing to me about this image is the yellow build. The face almost blends in with the background completely. This is due to an exceedingly minimal level of contrast between the darkest and lightest shade of yellow in the image. It’s clever because an optical illusion occurs; when looking around the face, the rest of the face that your eye isn’t looking at can appear to change. I doubt I’ll take this technique under my wing to carry forward into my work as I intend my images to be vivid and sharp, but the level of experimentation and the amount of thought that went into it are truly inspiring.

INDUSTRY, BUILDINGS AND STRUCTURES

Werner Mantz is another German photographer born in 1902. He photographed at first at the age of 14 and studied the art formally from the age of 18. Over his career he photographed architectural elements almost exclusively after an early start in advertising and portraiture. He was discovered by a respected architect and began to photograph his housing estates in Cologne. His style of photos are reflective of their subject matter. For instance, he focused readily on themes such as geometry, symmetry and alternative angles, all of which are elements integral to the architecture itself. I’m particularly fond of this image because of the shadows. He must have timed it to perfection as he’s captured a perfect 45 degree shadow under each balcony. The building is framed perfectly within the frame, each edge of the face of the structure completely parallel to the edge of the photograph. An underlying meaning could be the take over of man over nature. I think it can be seen as a testament to man’s dominance over the elements, and how something as awesome and celestial as the sun can be synthesised and manipulated and tamed at man’s will. Initially I thought structural photography wouldn’t be this expressive and open to interpretation or experimentation until I saw this collection of images. It’s most definitely a consideration for me now.

Andreas Gursky was born in 1955 and was heavily influenced by mentors Hilla and Bernd Becher while studying at Germany’s state art academy. His photographs cover a broad range of visual themes in his architectural work.  A key aspect of his work is nothing to do with the subject at all however; his methods of presentation is truly impressive. His architectural prints often exceed 100 inches in size. To maintain sufficient quality when blowing the images up to these gargantuan parameters, he’d use a large format camera. These giant prints are  a reflection of his subject, towering skyscrapers and elongated bridges. The following photograph shows a Super-Kamiokande, a Japanese observatory deep underground which detects supernovas, huge star explosions, in our galaxy. It’s an incredibly important operation, but in turn a very understated one. This contributes directly to the image’s celestial beauty. Each individual gold circle is an observational lens. The curvature in the grid pattern gives us some perspective of the sheer scale of the structure, a pinnacle signature of Gursky’s image. I can’t begin to imagine how beautiful witnessing this image in its native format would be. I’m intigued by this idea. It wouldn’t be economical for me to present my images on huge 100 inch prints, but my camera is more than capable of producing images at the industry standard “high definition.” If I were to digitally present my images, I could render them in high definition for the maximum potential in viewing experiences.

I’ve decided to answer the abstract question. In past projects I’ve stuck to a strict production pattern. I’d decide exactly what I intend to do and how I’ll present the work beforehand, and I’ll work toward that goal. The quality of work may be adequate, but sometimes the creativity feels forced. By answering the abstract question I can experiment with different techniques and editing, I can create freely and openly without worrying about how well received the body of work will be with an audience. I feel that this question allows the widest area for experimentation and as I’ve done little of it thus far, I can do so now.

I was drawn to the abstract photographs of Aaron Siskind, particularly to his body of work entitled “The Divers”. They depict male divers falling into a body of water. They’re completely isolated in the frame, nothing else appears other than the backdrop presumably the sky, and themselves. Another piece I was drawn to was a music video. The video accompanies a song called “Swim” by DJ Cam, a french Hip Hop/Jazz artist. The video was directed by Sonia Sieff. It was showcased at the SXSW 2011 artistic showcase show in Texas in late March of 2011. The video portrays a young woman falling from a building in super slow motion wearing a dress of alternative fashion. Footage of another young woman, crying, is inter-spliced also wearing fashionable clothing.

The main concept I will depict is a human falling. I first thought of this concept when studying images of “The Falling Man” for my last project when dealing with controversial imagery. I was intrigued by the idea of someone accepting their fate and jumping to their death while knowing the outcome. The tranquillity of the falling man in the single image that was presented to the world, regardless of the other images in the series depicting a more frenzied fall, really struck a nerve. The idea of accepting your fate and falling to it peacefully was a chilling concept which I thought would be very accessible in an abstract style considering its surreal nature in real life. To produce the images I plan to have my subject jumping on a trampoline. At the peak of the jump the subject will be weightless as if they were in free fall and it’s this moment I tend to capture as an experimental insight as to how garments as well as the body itself act under no gravity. There’s a particular highlight of limbs and extremities in some of the resources I’ll be studying for inspiration. I’d like to take this idea forward; concentrating on close ups of fingertips, or the hair while falling through the air. These delicate, intricate snippets of the bigger picture will contribute smaller elements to an overall great ensemble of images, as they do with their individual images.

To determine the difficulty of cutting the subject out of the images so they can stand alone, I’ll use my first shoot as a test. The easiest option will be a plain backdrop. The trampoline I’ll use has a lot of foliage in the background, small details that will be hard to cut around in Photoshop. I’ll ask the subject to jump as high as possible so their figure is surrounded by just sky; a natural plain backdrop. If this is ineffective I’ll have to use a nearby wall.

This is a screen grab from DJ Cam’s video for his single “Swim.” Directed and produced by Sonia Sieff it shows a young woman falling from a building. Other than the woman, the only thing occupying the frame is the sky. The woman has long styled hair and is wearing a noticeable amount of make up. At this point in the video she is falling directly downwards. Due to the nature of a moving image, in its original context the images changes compositionally over time. Fortunately the video is slowed right down so there’s little variation in composition between start and finish for this particular shot. The arms and body are positioned intelligently; they don’t seem tensed up. something one would expect during free fall. This contributes to the lucid, tranquil feeling of the image, precisely what I want to emulate. Her hair is the give away however. She’s supposedly falling but her hair comes down straight past her arm. If this was a real slowed down image of free fall the hair would be blowing everywhere but downwards. It’s a clever piece of rigging they’ve used for the actress as super slow motion cameras are very expensive and either way the actress wouldn’t have jumped from a sufficient height for the length of falling time captured. She has a beautiful, placid expression on her face, as if she’s indifferent to her fall, the potentially fatal experience she’s going through. This gives the image a distinct tone; it’s grungy and has a fierce attitude. Her expression of angst wouldn’t be out of place in any fashion magazine today. It’s lit all naturally as it was shot outside. I don’t think there was any fill-in spotlighting with this particular shot as the image is quite flat; not many details are really standing out. The clothes she’s wearing are height of current fashion; this is a very new video released early this year. (2011) The fact that she’s wearing a dress upholds a prominent sense of femininity and adds to her frail appearance. Her expression suggests she may be exhausted or depressed in some way, which adds a certain narrative; perhaps that is a contributing factor to how she’s in this situation as we’re drawn to the question of whether or not this is suicide.

This is another screen-grab from the same music video. It’s the same woman in different clothing and you can see her whole body this time including her footwear and how she’s positioning her legs. The way her arms and legs are held suggest the same lucidity. The way the fabric of her dress is moving though proves that she is slowly revolving in the air. This rotation is almost playful; at first it diminishes the impact, the seriousness of what’s going on. There’s an innocent charm about that carousel movement which makes it all the more chilling when you think about what she’s doing to herself. Again the subject is alone against the sky’s backdrop but I prefer this image compositionally. It may be because it’s framing her whole body rather than a closer crop but the innocence is amplified when compared with her obscurity against the relatively infinite sky.

Here’s the music video in its original context for an idea of the feeling I’m trying to emulate:

 

The following two images are screen shots of the 2005 film “Sin City”. It is based on the characters, story and visual style of the famous graphic-novelist Frank Miller. The film was directed by Robert Rodriguez but he based the stylisation and visual effects true to the graphic novel. The film was shot entirely in colour but in post production was converted to black & white. Some colour information was kept in however but only on certain objects. Blood was a recurring theme in the film and it was kept red while the rest of the film was black & white; a very effective technique to emphasise certain areas of the film. In this particular scene, one of the main protagonist played by Clive Owen has fallen into a tar pit. Very cleverly, and staying true to the original novel, the style of effect changes. The character’s silhouetted in an inverted way; he’s all white and the ever consuming, suffocating tar around him is an impenetrable black. It’s a wonderfully ominous image of life and death; the only life, the character is attacked by all  sides by the seemingly inevitable death until a lifeline comes from above in the form of a hand, a biblical reference perhaps. I think it’s compositionally stunning, just the two hands of mortal and saviour, meeting in the middle. It’s timed perfectly also; this is just as the scene cuts to another shot, at the precise moment the fingertips make contact. As this scene takes place, the character, “Dwight” performs a monologue. A transcript of the monologue follows:

“Silence now. No air to breath. Only the hard, oily tar taste creeping up my nostrils. Let it in, let it fill your lungs. They were counting on you and you blew it. Skinny, steely fingers at my wrist. Miho. You’re an angel. You’re a saint. You’re Mother Teresa. You’re Elvis.  You’re god.”

He’s initially resentful of himself, willing himself to accept his death and “let it in.” This shares closely a feeling I found with the DJ Cam video; the young girl, tranquil in death. He isn’t struggling, he’s accepting it. That’s a very striking concept for me, something I find it exceedingly difficult to grasp, yet it’s evident in literature, media and indeed real life. It’s evident then that it is a biblical reference holding his saviour in high esteem, deifying her as he does so. The following image is a whole body shot:

The main themes I wish to carry forward into my work are the isolated person in the frame, the simplicity of  a human life on a blank canvas, and the flowing material the person’s wearing. Even though he’s slowly sinking through tar and not falling through the air at a great velocity, they act in similar ways. I’d also like to bring forward a focus on the extremities. The image of the 2 people grasping hands is beautiful and small details like that will enhance my work. I find it wonderful how no emotion is detracted from the image regardless of it being exclusively an inverted silhouette; there are no facial features to portray anguish, or apathy but the body language, still expressible through an exclusively-silhouette form suggests his tranquillity. The drawback of this particular screen shot is the lack of imaginative composition. It is difficult to determine where a subject should be placed within the frame where there is no background detail for it to respond to.  Having perfectly upright and dead-centre though feels a little stale. This may have been how they filmed it with green screen, having the actor stand up on a sound stage and have the green screen turned black and the actor turned white in post production. I’d like to continue this idea of black on white, polar opposites and stark contrasts into my work, though I would like some detail especially, facial and in terms of fabric.

The next 2 images are screen shots from another music video. It’s for a song called “Pure Morning” by Placebo released in 1998. It was directed by Nick Gordon. The main concept of the video has the singer of the group standing on the ledge of a window, contemplating a fall to his death. There’s a policeman trying to stop him; throughout the duration of the video he’s running across the apartment in which the window ledge resides, trying to reach the man before it’s too late. The footage is interspersed with footage from the people on the ground, some news reporters, some people with a megaphone trying to get the man to stop his attempt, and 2 men are arrested on the ground. -We assume they’re allies of the jumping man who’ve helped him in his quest- He eventually jumps and instead of falling to his death is able to walk down the wall, a seemingly impossible task. He’s then deified by the people below in light of this impossibility. The first image shows the man, mid-flight, he’s slowing down and is about to start walking down the wall. What is striking to me about this image is his body shape. His arms are outstretched either side of him reference to Jesus perhaps, breaking physical rules to open the eyes of the people. He’s also coming down from the sky from the this perspective, a personification of God coming to Earth in the form of Jesus Christ. This like the last image follows quite a symmetry. Unlike the last image it isn’t a hindrance for me. The geometric perspective of the building he’s about to walk down suits it well, it feels balanced. This is echoed in the horizontal field; the skyline and the edge of the building meet perfectly in the middle of the frame. This balance is very striking and makes me think of the coming of Christ in the modern world, and what repercussions that might have. I appreciate the colour tone too; it’s as if there’s a grey filter on it with any colour information coming through pale and pastel. This directly represents the grim reality of the subject matter of suicide. Limiting colour tones works well with the natural lighting of the cloudy day of filming, and the grey-feeling industrialisation around such as buildings and pavements.

This next screen shot shows the man’s hand just as he’s about to jump. He has his fingers crossed, hoping to perhaps a higher power that what he intends to do will be successful. A number of all of these influential images follow the trend of focusing closely on the hands as they’re most likely our most used parts of the body after our eyes; I like how this importance is portrayed in his supposed dying moments. The hands will be a key part of a selection of my images. The composition of this is beautiful. From a production standpoint, the added touch of nail polish completely suits the style of the song and video; angst, punk oriented. The apartment, the unimportant background detail is completely blurred with a very shallow depth of field bringing the viewer’s attention directly to the sharply focused fingers being crossed. Modern stylised videos like these would most likely use a Digital SLR with video capabilities to access this versatile lens usage for depth and focus. 

The last image is, in some ways, what started it all. The concept of falling to your death, regardless of circumstance and accepting it, is a concept I hadn’t come across really until studying this image for my last module. It’s known as “The Falling Man” image, taken during the terrorist attacks on September 11th in New York by an Associated Press photographer, Richard Drew. It caused major controversy on its day of release, the day after the event. It’s not been printed at all since that day. It doesn’t follow particular compositional techniques; it’s in the nature of a  documentary image to be rushed because of the small time frame of the event. This in no way feels rushed though. After researching the velocity of a free falling person, it’s said to be close to 150 miles per hour. This is a testament to how quick Drew would need to have reacted, and how high his shutter speed would be to get the shot. This image had and still has a substantial impact on our culture; it’s been called the most important image of the early 21st century. The main aspect of this image I want to carry forward is the practical application of burst mode. Though the man seems to echo the subject in the other images, a fall of tranquillity and acceptance, Richard Drew took a series of photos of this lone “jumper” as they were infamously dubbed. The series of images can’t be found easily as a set, but have been mentioned in the Channel 4 documentary, “The Falling Man”. It’s a harrowing thought that this man was less calm, and more frenzied in death, flailing into different positions throughout the set of images. It’s a tool I’ll need to utilise to emulate the shot though, so I’ll be able to choose a single image to take forward from the number of different positions in one jump. The photograph shows the importance of natural light in documentary photography. What I find particularly intriguing about this image is the parallel lines of the building’s windows echo almost perfectly the lines of the edge of the frame. It’s hard to imagine paying attention to such detail when documenting such a profound and rushed moment which leads me to believe it was either accidental, or cropped so afterwards. From our perspective as a viewer they could be seen as guidelines, willing the subject downward towards his fate. I can only hope that my photographs can convey a fraction of this image’s cultural importance; it would be an honour if my set could in any way pay homage to this photograph and the grave subject it occupies.

Click on the image for an enlargement

Lighting is an integral part of this unit for me. I’ll be using natural light with no fill in flash; extra flash would further illuminate the subjects entire body and the silhouette style I intend to realise will be unsuccessful. I need the sun to be at it’s highest position in terms of light intensity and angle. There’s a house in the way which is acting as my backdrop so I’ll have to wait for the sun to come out from behind it. With that said I’ll need to take my images before the sun moves further and illuminates the front of the subject’s body. Because of this limited time frame, I may need to return on another day to take the remainder of my images. I hope to produce a number of different image types:

1| Mid-bounce shots emulating the body’s position during free fall. The subject will need to maintain a placid, apathetic facial expression for the effect to emulate that of my influences.
2| Close ups of body parts. Hands/fingertips, feet/toes, Hair tips, and the facial expression itself.
3| Close ups of the midriff, torso and thighs.

Click on each contact sheet for an enlargement

This is a step by step view of how I processed my raw images. I used Adobe Photoshop CS4. Each individual image can be seen at a higher resolution when clicked on.

1| Using the square Marquee tool highlighted on the left, I drew a selection box around the subject.

2| Right clicking on the box gave me a number of options. I used “Layer via Cut”. I then had a new layer consisting of just the square selection of the subject.

3| In blending options, I blackened the background using “Colour Overlay”

4| To make the image black & white, I used a black and white adjustment layer. Adjustment layers can be accessed at the bottom of the ‘Layers’ panel.

5| Additionally, I created an adjustment layer to alter ‘Curves’

6| The ‘Curves’ adjustment layer produced a number of different tools upon clicking on it. For my desired effect I increased the black level output using the black slider arrow highlighted. The new contrasts tended to need around a 160-180 value in black output, but the odd few needed a touch more or a little less for the desired effect, as the blacks could be overpowering.

7| Because of this black output increase, a lot of detail was missing from the clothing, a key study of my work. With the black 7 white adjustment layer, certain colour tones from the original colour image can be blackened or whitened according to the editor’s preference. A number of sliders representing said colour channels can be seen in the adjustments panel. Because of the subject’s clothing colour, the fabric was greatly emphasised by whitening the magenta channel, darkening the blue, lightening the cyan and annihilating the green channel almost entirely. While the red and yellow channels did apply a little to the clothing, these channels primarily made up the skin tone. To increase the desired contrast and to really make the light source look very harsh and white, I darkened the yellow and red channels slightly to darken the skin. This gave a fantastic silhouette/outline hybrid design which met all of my targets from the annotations that I wanted to bring forward into my work.

8|  With the tonal range set, I just had to remove any remaining fragments of the image that weren’t exclusively the subject. The grey wall was blackened earlier using the curve tool so all that was left was some of the trampoline and detail around the foot. I used magic erase to erase the bigger planes of white that remained.

9| Now to remove the smaller details remaining around the feet with the eraser tool. I used a hard brush to keep a precise line around the foot.

10| Finished image.

  • Gallery- Blow up prints of good enough quality. Rental space and time for display. Guest list.
  • Book- Blurb.com photo book, around £20, takes a lot of time for it to be printed.
  • Presentation slideshow in class, what about examiner?
  • Digital photo frame- quite expensive, small screen.
  • Video with music- tone of falling works well with music, evident in researched criteria.
  • Magazine- fashion related due to materials
  • Facebook Gallery
  • Flickr Gallery
  • Own website- expense?
  • Mysterious flyer publication- risk of them taken down

My workbook for this unit is presented on the internet. I did this to see if presenting work on a non physical format is viable as a substitute for physical presentation. Since deciding to do this I’ve wondered if my final image presentation could do this as well. With past projects I’ve always been aware of what I’m doing to the environment. For 2 of the modules I’ve produced a photo book which I’ve received via mail order. The natural resources used by shipping this too me are substantial. Similarly, the paper it’s made from could be saved if I didn’t present my work physically. The internet is a powerful resource which gains momentum every day. All I’m using by showing my workbook online is server space that would be used anyway, and an electrical current, which again would be put to use regardless of whether I’m using it or not. It’s for this reason I’m presenting my work in the most environmentally friendly way I can. There are drawbacks to this however. Server failure, power outage, hard drive errors could all lead to my work disappearing. It’s because of this I’m utilising a backup system. Every page of workbook, every image and video is backed up locally on two personal computers, an external hard drive and a USB flash drive. Each page is written locally on office software where there’s an auto-save feature in case of power outage, and then copied and pasted to the blogging service. These are extra precautions I’ve deemed necessary to keep my work safe which may be a hindrance for some people. But I feel I’d rather take these precautions than pollute the environment from aeroplane and train fuels from a book being shipped to me.

Presenting work online has another great advantage. It’s easier than ever to share with the world through vastly expanding social networks. In the last few years, social networks have allowed people to share information without a popular or established website of their own. By posting a link on a social network, it caould spread like wildfire from person to person through word of mouth marketing. Here’s a screen shot of some promotion I did on the popular site facebook.com.

I used another hugely successful social networking site, twitter.com.

Just by posting on 2 websites, in excess of 600 people are now aware of the link and they can pass it on to whomever they wish. It’s an incredible tool to show people your work.

Because of the majority of the photography I’ve studied in preparation for this module was presented in a moving image format readily found on the internet, I’ve been thinking the only way for me to present my work is in the same way. Though I’d love to display my images in a gallery with huge prints and visitors, I’m not currently in the financial position for this to be a viable option. The most used user-generated video source on the internet is YouTube.com. For me to successfully utilise this service I’ll have to transform my images into a video medium. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to experiment, using a combination of video footage and still images. I took a few short video clips of the model on the day of the shoot which I can include. A major drawback of YouTube.com is advertisements during playback. They can be closed immediately but may deter from the viewing experience. I’ve research into other websites such as Vimeo.com and Dailymotion.com, both of which have advertisements too. Vimeo supports ad-less videos but only if a premium is paid. YouTube’s video quality and worldwide accessibility is what draws me to use their service.

Because of the slowed motion feeling of the images I think it’ll be very effective if I very slowly pan over the images so it looks like the model is slowly following. I’ve done a few experiments with this and if panned slowly enough, the images look like they could be super slow motion moving images. While researching building and structural photography, I came across some information about Andreas Gursky. He presents his work on huge canvas prints to emulate his subjects of huge towering structures. I was intrigued by this idea of presenting on a high resolution, high clarity format for the viewer to have the best visual experience when looking at my work. Fortunately YouTube has a high definition feature. I’ll be compiling my final images into a video, slowly panning the images, showing moving footage as well and it’ll be to a musical backdrop. Without musical accompaniment the viewers’ attention may not be held. Music choice is vital though; it could go wrong very easily. It could deter the meaning of the photographs or enhance it. The music I’ve chosen is a song by Flying Lotus called “Tea Leaf Dancers”. It’s chilled out, and suits the placid tone of the imagery. It enhances the work’s message while not overpowering the subtle photographs. It could be seen as the abstract art equivalent of music so I think it’s very fitting.

Sonia Sieff’s image

My intention for this image was to accurately reproduce the effect of falling while capturing what the body and clothing look like under no gravity. I think I fulfilled this for the most part. By using the black and white layer adjustment in Photoshop I was able to make certain colour channels white. This allowed me to emphasise the magentas of the material the model is wearing which brought a greater focus to the fabric and not just the fact she was falling. I chose to use exclusively black & white images to reflect the ideals I discussed with Robert Rodriguez’s “Sin City” imagery. The tonal range is low yet contrast is high. This means that the polar tones of white and black are very strong but there is little grey in between. This is most likely the major influence of the Sin City images in my work. I particularly love how the stark white levels highlight the edges of her arm and legs. The blackness is consuming her, a personification of the clutch of death, and the only way to determine detail is by the white outlines. The main drawback of this image is the cut off of limbs. Unfortunately when taking photos with closer detail I moved closer to the model; it’s evident now that I moved a little too close. I could salvage this by making it a close crop of her arm and the material; by cropping out extremities it’d seem intentional that I came so close. But this image feels like I’m not far enough away for it to be a whole body shot or close enough for it to be a close crop; it feels like a mistake. I decided to include it regardless because her right arm meeting her face is an exquisite movement that reflected the models of Sonia Sieff’s music video. It’s a little difficult to see her facial expression but on closer inspection you can see her eyes are closed. This is key body language to convey the notion of dream like lucidity. It was used throughout that music video and I feel it was one of the biggest contributing factors of the feeling I was trying to recreate.

This is one of my favourite photographs of this piece. The tonal range of black and white is more or less a constant throughout all of the images unless a select few needed additional tweaking. The reason this image excels is because of its composition. I thought about the Sin City image and how it’s dead-centre symmetrical approach wasn’t to my taste. This is dead-centre composition but it doesn’t have symmetry. Because of the curve tool just the thinnest little outline allows us to make out the extremities. It’s ghostly, it’s as if she’s not there while she is there, falling into oblivion. She appears much smaller in the frame than the last image, which gives her a frail quality, obscure almost. It utilises the same tonal qualities as all the others.

The above image is the most realistic falling position. I regret not having any detail in the facial expression as she was facing away from the Sun at the time, but the positioning of her jump was too good for me to ignore; it just feels so natural. I used a straight down pan with a slow, subtle rotation, to make it feel as though she’s falling backwards onto her back and shoulders. It gave the feeling that she had just jumped from her starting point.

This is one of my favourite images. My main intention for this was to emulate the biblical feeling of the placebo music video. I asked the model to perform a cross position, which not only gave the image it’s calm feeling, it adds an entirely different narrative. Like one of the previous images she appears obscure in the frame; it’s a whole body shot taking up a very small space which makes the overwhelming blackness seem even more so. The constant filtering of the “Curves” tool as depicted in the technical analysis has been used. The panning in my presentation I used is a straight down pan which means she falls directly through the centre of the image. Here’s a reference to the image from the Placebo video.

The holy feeling was brought across well even though the capture angles of both images are completely different; my image was taken from the side, and this image was taken from underneath the falling subject. The sharp contrast works well with this holy feeling too, a reference to the light coming from above.

I believe I stayed close to my proposal throughout and didn’t stray too far from what I originally intended to do. Granted, I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to affect the images until quite far into the module as my influences gave me a lot of ideas to chose from. I’m very glad I did chose the presentation methods I did; they’re creative, I haven’t used these methods in other modules but they were still relevant to the work at hand which I think is vital. I’m particularly proud of my presentation method as a huge amount of people can see it. My research into photographers who work in an abstract style was of utmost importance. Releasing myself from any inhibition to experiment with visual styles was key, and if I hadn’t I think my images wouldn’t be as strong, or I would have presented it in a similar way to other projects. From a practical stand point though, I wish I’d been more creative in the direction of my model. As fond as I am of the majority of the images in the set, I can’t help but feel that some of the positions were repeated quite a few times. In fairness to the model it was very difficult to maintain an apathetic expression while free falling through the air and not landing on her feet. I’m exceedingly happy with my choice to take influence from music video and film directors. It’s this that helped me experiment with using video footage as well as still photographs. If I were to redo the project, I think I’d have the model wearing different clothes in each photograph and focus more on the fashion aspect, as this didn’t feature as heavily as I’d have liked it to. During this module, I learned that artist research is an integral part of creating any form of art, regardless of an abstract style. To quote an unknown source, “Just because no one understands you, it doesn’t make you an artist.” Idea development is a key component of any art project, taking influences from work you love, combining selected elements to make something new, while staying true to what you set out to do. Not alienating the viewer helped too. By sharing the workbook with people and not just the presentation, they know exactly what I wasn’t intending to do and they may understand it or appreciate just a little better as a result; that’s all I can hope for.

WEBSITES

http://www.masters-of-photography.com – image resources

http://www.wordpress.com- Blog Hosting and image resources

http://www.andrewjaffe.net – image resources

http://www.poulwebb.blogspot.com – image resources

http://www.lucindachua.co.uk – image resources/biographical information

http://www.sumtergallery.org – image resources

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk – image resources

http://www.http://pobedagallery.com – image resources/biographical information

http://www.alexeytitarenko.com – image resources

http://www.http://the-artists.org – biographical information

http://www.soniasieff.com/ – image resources

BOOKS

20th Century Photography (Taschen Books) – biographical information

BLINK (phaidon.com) – biographical information