Working on my chosen subject matter
Whilst researching photo-montage I came across a website dedicated to the high fashion/art magazine ‘AnOther’. I became engrossed (well… distracted) with several of the ‘most viewed’ articles. I discovered the work of Jason Shulman, British Sculptor and photographer. In May this year (2016), he held an exhibition of his work Photographs of Films. The magazine article ‘The art of condensing whole movies into single photographs’ explains how Shulman takes long-exposure photographs of entire movies and flattens them into a single image. For example ‘The Wizard of OZ’ below.
“Interestingly, it came about after an unexpectedly successful experiment. “I set up my camera in front of my computer and pointed it at a movie, expecting that, if you expose the negative for an hour and a half with a film in front of it, you’d get a bit like what you get when you mix balls of Play-Doh together – just a brown monotone hue,” Shulman explains.
This gave me some much needed inspiration. I don’t want my finished images to look as vague as Shulman’s, but I like the idea of compiling images in this creative way, rather than using Photoshop/Lightroom. I considered the option of filming myself (or rather asking someone else to film me), and decided that would not work because much of the video would show me running from A to B and I am no expert at editing movies. Plus, I like to have a plan in my head and then develop the images through spontaneity.
So the next stage was to get shooting. I set up my camera and tripod and armed with my remote shutter release and using the self timer function – and my husband as and when necessary – I set about illustrating my situation, mood and state of mind.
Next I wanted a few images which represented the fogginess in my head, my lack of a clear vision and outcome. A friend told me about a fellow MA Photography student who was often in severe pain and how she portrayed this in her images. She apparently used Vaseline smeared over a lens to convey distortion of consciousness and vulnerability.
Fortunately my ‘condition’ is less extreme, but this gave me an idea. I decided to use bubble wrap as a kind of diffuser to distort the picture. These are the resulting images – I’m really quite pleased with them.
Finally I included some additional shots and backdrops that I may be able to use in my final image presentation as metaphors – turmoil, undefined plan, no track of time and tangle of thoughts.
Compiling the images – Windows Movie maker and camera
Now to work on how I will accomplish the end product. Looking back at Shulman’s work, I want to create a series of between one and four images loosely based on his technique. I often use Windows Live Movie Maker to collate our holiday photos, so decided to experiment with this. I picked 4 random photos from a recent trip to Iceland and made a video. I set the duration to project each image between 0.50 and 1 second. I then played back the video with my camera set up in front of my laptop screen. I set the shutter speed to 1.6 sec. This was the result.
I am happy with this, although the images are a little too light. I will practice with my assignment images and see what develops. The difficulty is choosing which photos to use. I have put 5 draft sets of photographs together as follows:
I then put these images into a movie. I was hoping to insert my videos here, but WordPress doesn’t seem to be able to locate them? I will look into this before submitting for formal assessment.
I played back the videos with my camera set up in front of my laptop screen. As a test I varied the shutter speed between 1.6 sec – 3 sec. This was the first proof. I must add that at this stage I did not line up the camera to the laptop with any precision, because at this stage I was not convinced it would be a successful project. Hence, the framing of the images is rather slapdash. There is also a technical issue which I will explain at the end of these sets of images.
Quite pleased with these, especially the last two where I’m seen to be climbing up the wall! The use of gels has produced vivid colours to add tension, friction and frustration to the series.
I am discounting these shots immediately. The colours are not good – too strong and false (post processing didn’t improve matters). I appear to have become a Hobbit type creature with rather large ears!
The issue was interference between the pixels on the screen and the pixels on my camera, this was due to the strobing effect as the camera scans the screenshots. Even light cropping or straightening caused lines and dots to appear across the images. In my earlier sample – the Iceland experiment – the lines were very faint, possibly due to the fact that the images were slightly overexposed. Sample of the problem below:
This one is not too obvious, but the interference is very clear in the two images below – more so on the full screen.
Somewhat disappointed but still determined, I experimented some more. I set up my camera on the tripod and lined up my laptop with more precision, so no post cropping required. This time I used the remote shutter release to ensure absolute steadiness and set my camera to manual. I thought an almost transparent diffuser may help matters, I don’t have a suitable filter so placed a piece of clear cellophane over my lens. I had to tweak the aperture and shutter speed several times and constantly adjust the focus to cope with the changing pictures projecting in front of the camera lens.
The results are not perfect, but much improved. In some images I think the faint lines actually compliment the narrative and assist in expressing the emotion in the images.
Selection from second draft:
Now to decide and select images to submit. Please see A3 Submission to tutor for final images.
Schulman, J. ‘The art of condensing whole movies into single photographs’. Available from: www.anothermag.com [accessed 20th September 2016]
Walton, P. On becoming invisible. Available from: http://www.patwaltonphotography.com/projects.html [accessed 20th September 2016]
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/photo-montage [accessed 18th September 2016]
http://www.photokonnexion.com/collage-definition/%5Baccessed 18th September 2016]
I have spent several weeks with ideas and thoughts going round and round in my head. But, making the transition from ideas into photographs caused some angst….then my mind would go blank again. It has been difficult to unravel concrete ideas which could be developed.
Then it struck me that this whole dilemma is taking over my life and therefore this is what I should be portraying – how I’m feeling right now! I set about shooting images that are confined to home (inside and out), because that is where I do my studying. I also feel that the ‘confinement’ represents how I feel about this assignment.
Using the self timer option on my camera I have experimented with coloured gels in attempt to capture different moods.
I am pondering whether to submit just one image or several, or whether to incorporate my images into a photo-montage or collage? I needed to research both to understand the differences.
Dictionary definitions read as follows:-
Photo-montage: a combination of several photographs joined together for artistic effect or to show more of the subject than can be shown in a single photograph.
Collage: a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs,etc.
For photography purposes however, I think this is a more accurate definition:-
The collage is an artful, illogical, arrangement. There is little or no theme in the images used. The “photo-montage” by comparison, is an arrangement of photos to show off a common theme in the images. The theme is normally presented in a logical way.
So, now I’ve read these ‘definitions’, I think both would work well with what I am attempting to achieve – a confusion of images to reflect my mood. Looking through student blogs I note that this technique is well used and I’m not sure this is what I really want to achieve for my finished article. I want to push myself to develop the creativity in my photography work. I hear my tutor’s encouraging words; be bold, take risks, experiment, turn ideas on their heads!
For next steps please see Working on chosen subject matter
This assignment concerns putting myself in the picture one way or another in its widest sense. The brief states that I can approach my self-portraits however I see fit. I can choose to include myself or be absent, use empty spaces, objects, models and metaphors. The brief also suggests keeping a diary for a couple of weeks. I do keep a diary, but only really for reminders and to earmark events – of which there are few these days (apart from holidays!). I would not want to write two or three pages a day, it takes me all my time to jot down thoughts and ideas for my blog!
Initial thoughts and ideas
I have been giving this assignment a lot of thought during the past few weeks while completing the projects and exercises in Part Three. This is an open brief designed to give me freedom to create something personal by including myself in the picture, in one way or another – both literally and metaphorically.
It’s early days but, some thoughts so far…..
Looking back though my diaries and thinking about how I am in general these days, I started to scribble down words and the ones that came into my head all begin with D. “D Days”. Daydreaming, dithering, delaying, doubting. I am thinking about using framed windows as a prop – either with or without me in the shots. Examples are misty window/blurry shot, reflections (reflecting back), viewing myself through window. Incorporating some creative camera work too. I looked at other photographers work and saw that windows are a popular theme. Below: Sharon Boothroyd “The glass between us” 2010.
I ran this idea by my tutor, she commented “I like the very internalised nature of the verbs you’re using… the challenge is how to depict these visually when they’re outwardly inactive?” It is a challenge indeed. Here are some preliminary shots of me delaying, doubting, dithering….
Then I took some window shots with a more creative slant. I trialed my idea first by using my husband as a model.
I set up the tripod outside the window with the camera pointing in. These portrayed more of a daydreaming effect by blending interior and exterior – of the surroundings and of my thoughts. The setting is ideal because there are two windows opposite each other, just a pity about the kitchen sink tap!!
Another idea is reading – I read all the time, from all sources – newspapers, online, fiction, fact, research, magazines…
I have this lovely portrait hung on our bedroom wall, it was given to me by a friend who said it reminded him of me.
Tutor says “There’s a very nice book of Photographs by Andre Kertesz, called On Reading, where his subjects are all very actively engaged in reading, and so there’ a very painterly kind of stillness and absorption in the photographs.” I have looked at these images and really like them. The Hungarian photographer André Kertész (1894-1985) gained inspiration for many of the images though his preoccupation with reading and the written word.
This series of work gave me an idea to work on something similar using just me as the subject. However I decided the resulting images would be a little too literal, ordinary. I am very fond of black and white photography, I find it atmospheric and honest, it attaches itself to a period in time. But I want this piece of work to speak about now, my present state. I want to portray my current inner world (thoughts and emotions) visually. See Light bulb moment! for the next stage.