Phase 3 Practice: Final Shoot Part 1

For my final portrait photo shoot, I have chosen to produce a narrative series where the natural (or artificial) element of light represents the bonding source of energy the individual strives for.  In the story, the individual is lost in the darkness with nothing but a torch to guide her way.  I have chosen to use the torch as the main interactive object in the narrative because it is a practical tool where the light can be used with ease and it also gives an output of light that is just right.  Throughout the story, the individual is content with the torch but is curious to investigate the larger light source shining ahead. The individual eventually decides to had towards it but is there something that she has forgotten as she ventures out of the darkness?

Contact Sheets

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Post Production

During post production, I made slight adjustment to the temperature and general exposure of the images by using the saturation and curves tool.  I also used the spot healing tool to erase any markings in the image.  As I was using a range of harsh and soft reflective lighting, dust particles became more visible in the air and so the background needed particular attention during this process.

Final Portrait Outcomes

This image sees the individual directly addressing the audience as the torch lies on the floor behind her.  As the individual’s story takes place in a dark place with no particular surroundings, I chose to create a pose that would give some awareness of the viewer to build a connection that encourages the viewer to follow her into her dark world.

This image shows the individual’s first encounter with the light as she looks ahead while shining the torch.  This image definitely brings a sense of anxiety in her expression and through her body language as she appears to stand frozen in place as if she is afraid to move.  At the same time however, her eyes bring across a sense of hypnotism and curiosity of this unknown light.

This image also shows a sense of curiosity as she continues to watch the light ahead.  Once again, her body language visually reads that she is both nervous and longing to find out where this light is coming from.  Here she could potentially be thought to be considering what would happen if she was to head towards it.

This image sees the individual take a courageous step towards the light being cautious as she proceeds.

In this image, the individual struggles to find a way out; no matter how close she gets, the light only becomes farther away.  The individual is feeling lost and hopeless as she sits on the floor, waiting for something or someone to find her.  She is about to give up but as she looks down at the torch, she is also reminded that she still has something to keep her going.

The individual begins to get up and overcomes her inner darkness to try again.

In this image the individual comes across a small item on the floor.  Picking it up, she realises it is a small acorn.  This image represents the acorn as a sign of hope for the individual as she realises it has come from earth.  This image breaks down the barrier of the alienation of the space she searches in as she discovers something that is familiar to both her and the viewer.

After wondering around in the darkness for so long, the individual finally discovers the exit to a special place.  This image represents the ultimate interaction between the young girl and the light energy.  Her body language displays how she is no longer afraid and is now ready to venture out into the light and a new world.

Additional images

These final images displays how the individual is one with the light and has found inner peace with herself as the bond between her and the natural element is complete.  Her journey has only just begun…

This single image shows the individual in new costuming and also features the lantern instead of the torch as a companion.  This image is effective in lighting and contrast and there is a strong sense of drama and emotional value that expresses an element of depression.  However, this image does not link well with the other preceding images and so I have chosen not to feature this within the final installation.

Conclusion

In conclusion to this final series of portraits, the outcomes are a lot stronger in comparison to my previous photo shoot.  My decision to use light itself to represent the natural source of energy was a good choice and this gave me more opportunity to work with lighting in a diverse way.  The lighting is particularly strong in the final portraits where the light is shining from behind to create a soft semi silhouette around the individual.  These images are the most captivating as they bring a nice halo effect around the individual which is suggestive of her innocent character.  In these last portraits there is a lack of continuity as the individual’s clothes have changed, despite this, the overall look of the images are very dream like and tranquil as we focus full attention on the ‘being’ of this person alone.

As for the rest of the series, there is definitely a vast range of images to choose from and so I may consider selecting particular images rather than using all of them as I find some images present better narrative quality than others.  My next step is to complete the still life photography to go alongside with the portraits where I shall be using more than one object as a key element in the story.

‘Photo of the Week’ and Week Review

My photo of the week presents a sneak peek of my final major outcome.  I have decided for my final piece to use light as the key natural element in the photographic series where the individual is mentally challenged.  For this final photo shoot, I shall use small objects to act as a source of light energy for the individual to interact with in the narrative.  My plan is to create a dark, intense concept that establishes a story which sees the individual searching for a path out of the darkness towards a large source of light.  I have chosen to once again capture this narrative within the studio space where I shoot against a black background and create a direct pathway of light to fall upon the subject.  This pathway of light will act as the destination where the individual wishes to go.  The story will see the personal developments of the character as she finds a way out in which the moral of the story will represent how there is always a way to a better place when placed in difficult situations.  The concept will also represent how inner power is encouraged occasionally through dark experiences and the character is intended to eventually find this light and seek the answer.

This week has proved difficult to come to terms with deciding upon a final concept for the narrative series. However I feel this approach to the final artefact will give a stronger initiative in terms of bringing across a message to the audience that is motivational and cinematic.  The next stage is to complete production by executing two separate photo shoots firstly for the still life and then portraiture in which I may potentially present the outcomes from each photo shoot as individual images alongside each other within the series.

Richard Vantielcke and Gregory Crewdson – Conceptual and Narrative Photography

Richard Vantielcke

French photographer Richard Vantielcke captures urban landscape and dark figures as conceptual subject matter to create dark, uncanny narratives.  Usually set at night time, Vantielcke’s concepts often involve an individual exploring dark spaces where urban lights are featured to lead the way.  There is an intriguing element of the unknown as the individual’s in his images appear to be seeking the space for answers where Vantielcke also uses trick mirrored effects to bring a sense of surrealism and the supernatural.  The series ‘In the Shadow of Light’, Vantielcke’s subject matter observes a hooded figure within lonely urban spaces underground and in the streets.  The male figure is kept anonymous from the audience which brings across aspects of suspicion and vulnerability as we do not know who this person is and what they could be capable of.  One image of the man sitting at a bus stop is somewhat poignant as the man grips his hands together while looking down; this could suggest a more personal approach to the character of the man as he gives the impression that he is alone and helplessly lost.

Other series composed by Vantielcke all gives reference to classic stories and traditional artists; his series ‘ A Bit like Alice’ (2009) similarly follows the exploration of a young girl in an underground location where throughout her investigations, she finds objects including a mirror that reflects herself as a secondary character.  The girl sees her own reflection making gestures to take a certain direction as she wanders the area.  Vantielcke cleverly uses principles that observes the individual through a different perspective as he integrates multiple versions of the character that could potentially suggest concepts of self discovery; in the narrative, the girl is in some way following her own alter ego.

Vantielcke’s other works also take more lighter approaches to narrative storytelling through other means including self portraiture, urban landscape and light trail photography.  Vantielcke also features other forms of visual interpretation by using text within his images.  For example, the series ‘Watching Big Brother’ has the individual observing lit up messages in dark streets that bring question to the purpose of cultural development in general life.  This challenges the individual as well as the audience as to which choice they would make when faced with a personal question on the spot.

Vantielcke is currently a new major influence toward my own visual narratives where I can sense similarities of dramatic visual storytelling with Gregory Crewdson.  Both photographers create a bold atmosphere in their work that leaves the audience in suspense and this is something that needs to be addressed in my own developments for my final artefact.  My final photographic series for this project needs more drama where the story presents a more intense situation and these conceptual influences by Vantielcke express strong potential.  I particularly admire how Vantielcke uses light simply to act as a lead for the individual.  This brings new ideas of using light as a source of energy to search for something of importance.  This has given me new inspiration to use light alone as a natural element which can be used as a tool to direct the character in the right direction.

Gregory Crewdson

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Gregory Crewdson. Twilight

 

American photographer Gregory Crewdson is another major influence towards my final artefact.  Crewdson is well known for his dark cinematic style where he often depicts intriguing scenes location in suburban settings in the United States.

Crewdson forms suspenseful narratives where he brings emphasis on mystery and uncanny phenomena where characters in the imagery are often seen standing motionless as an eerie event begins to stir.  Crewdson brings a sense of the paranormal where his visual stories use light and dark to create intensity.  I admire Crewdson for how he allows the audience to identify with the ‘unknown’ presences seen in his work where there is also a atmosphere where events are in limbo.  Crewdson brings an effective approach through how he leaves the audience with a cliffhanger where the viewer is able to predict what will happen next.

For example, one image produced in 1988 depicts a single figure standing outside at night in a suburban street as a bright light shines down upon him.  The image presents a sense of alienation as there is no reveal of where the light is coming from.  This image is suggestive of a potential alien encounter.  Is the boy about to be abducted?  Crewdson brings anonymity to his narrative and he also brings a daring, adventurous feel to the image, almost in a way where we have just seen the beginning of the story.

Reviewing the work of Crewdson and Vantielcke has reminded of how light alone can influence narrative and I conclude that this may be a strong approach to take in my own creative practice.  Both photographers present hidden clues in their imagery where they allow the audience to take an investigative role that may potentially form more pieces to a visual puzzle.  This is something that I aim to achieve where the viewer also becomes interactive in a sense that reflects the character in the images.

 References

ARR Ludimaginary (2016) ‘Portfolio-About the photographer‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.ludimaginary.net (Accessed 13/08/2016)

ARR Strozzina (2009-2010) ‘Manipulating Reality-How Images Re-define the World’ {Online} Available from: http://www.strozzina.org (Accessed 13/08/2016)

Phase 2 Practice: Light Trail Photography Experimentation

Set Up and Techniques

Before moving forward into phase 3 with my portraiture and still life practice, I decided to pursue one final experiment to oversee other ideas and test their potentiality as a possible idea to bring forward for the final major outcomes.  For this experiment, I have chosen to practice creating light trails to surround the individual as a way to create illusional interaction with the natural element forming a representation of the individual discovering a spiritual ability.  To set the scene, I used large poly boards to flag out the black background completely and stood the lights facing onto the subject from a side position, facing away from the background.  By using a slow shutter speed and an in camera timer, I drew the light trails using a small torch while standing behind the subject within the shadows so the actions of the light drawing process would not be visible in the images.

Contact Sheets

Experimental Outcomes

This image is my best result from this experiment.  I posed the individual to appear as if they were conjuring the light themselves to bring about an immortal presence to the viewer.  However, this image is still somewhat crude as the lighting is slightly weak and the image appears blurry in some areas.

To conclude this brief experimental practice, I have decided not to take this experiment further as a concept for the final major outcome.  This experiment has put to the test other possible elements that could be used to relate more performance as a narrative, however, this has proved to be too complex of an idea to bring forward in terms of technical arrangement and also due to the limitations of space.

Phase 2 Practice: ‘Freedom To Fly’

Part 1

My practice this week explores the theme of ‘Freedom’ as a potential final theme for the final major outcome.  I have chosen to explore this theme as a developed conceptual idea that brings both ‘Sanctuary’ and ‘Acceptance’ together as both these elements fit in well with the narrative possibilities behind this subject.  For this photo shoot, I have chosen to use feathers and a cage to represent the element of ‘Air’ as these objects are able to refer to aspects of flight while the individual is intended to represent the ‘bird’.  The narrative for this series is intended to show the individual’s personal development where her dream is to be free from the cage as the cage represents how the individual feels trapped but is also anxious to leave.

Post Production

During the post production process, I used the crop tool to improve the composition of the images with the subject matter at the centre area.

I also used the curves and colour balance tool to correct the temperature and lighting in the images.  Aspects such as the model’s skin appeared slightly too warm and so I adjusted the blue and red channels to give a paler appearance.

 

Portrait Outcomes

This image sees the individual directly addressing the audience while holding the cage in a sitting position surrounded by the feathers.  This composition in this image represents the individual’s close bond with the cage where she feels safe.

This image sees the individual sitting beside the cage holding some feathers in her hand.  This image shows how the individual is curious of the feathers and develops a new bond.

In this image, the individual becomes more curious of where the feathers are coming from and peeks inside the cage where more have appeared.  This image is intended to represent the individual’s wonder at  the feathers where she is seeking an answer to this new experience of being able to fly.

In this image, the individual sits contently beside the cage and holding feathers while addressing the viewer once again.  This image represent show the individual is uncertain of choice between staying safe with the cage or to follow the feathers to freedom.

 

This image sees the individual embracing the cage as she is uncertain of leaving her home behind to be free. This image represents how the individual is struggling to let go and follow a different path.

This image sees a turn of events as the individual finds the cage knocked over and open.  In this image, the individual does not know what to do as her cage is now damaged.

This final image of the series shows the individual holding a single feather as she looks above, still intrigued by the idea of freedom.  She has no where else to go.

Part 2

As well as experimenting with portraiture and featured objects, I also decided to continue my experimentation with still life alone to create more intensity with the lighting.  To progress with this photo shoot further, I tried moving the lights to positions behind the subject matter as well as from the side and front positions.  This resulted in more intense direction of light onto the cage particularly which brought harsh shadow and deeper contrast.  During the post production process, I used the curves tool to further enhance the lighting bringing emphasis on these particular aspects. I also played with different colour temperatures to compare image saturations such as transferring the images to black and white or saturating the image to a certain degree.

Still Life Cage Outcomes

This image sees the cage cropped to reveal the high point of the cage where the image is slightly saturated in colour.

As the lightly was quite intense on this image, I found transferring this to black and white gave it a greater appearance, especially with shadows.  However, this image is still rather soft in comparison to other images.

This image sees a perspective of the cage at its lower area.  As the light shines from behind to the left, this has created a strong shadow of the cage’s individual bars. The composition of the feathers is also quite effective.

This image shows the cage standing at full height where once again, light directly hits the shape of the cage to create a strongly contrasting shadow.

Conclusion

This photo shoot has broadened my ideas further in still life and portraiture both technically and conceptually.  However, despite achieving my intended look for the portrait series for this practice, the images are distanced from my original concept plan.  The images lack emotional drive and there is no serious personal development in the character of the individual where there is also only a slight shift in narrative.  Nevertheless, the way in which the subject matter has been captured is too simplistic to form a suspenseful story as there is not a lot happening in the image content.  The portrait series is more reminiscent of a fashion photography style which is was not my intention.  Despite this series taking a drastic turn away from my project ambitions, my extended practice with photographing the still life alone has drawn new potential in creating visuals that are more intense.

My later experimentation brings a vast difference to the earlier shoot.  When photographing the cage object, I brought in poly boards and moved the lights to a farther distance behind the subject matter to create striking lighting effects.  This brought out more effective results as the lighting enhanced the shape of the cage and this proved to be more visually intriguing.  Overall, I have found this practice has given me more awareness of lighting in how I shoot my subjects and I intend to explore this further in my forthcoming practices with portraiture and still life.

‘Photo of the Week’ and Week Review

A portrait photographed by Nadav Kander, this image depicts a close encounter with the HRH Prince of Wales which was featured in the 2013 Time magazine publication as the cover image.  What struck me about this image in particular was the intensity of His Majesty’s expression as he maintains a serious yet gentle gaze directly into the viewers eye.  The colouring of the image is well toned as the navy coloured background matches that of His Majesty’s attire and his eyes.  Kander captures the Prince of Wales powerfully as he acknowledges elements of stature as well as vulnerability in human nature; Time magazine presented the title of this photographic feature as ‘The Forgotten Prince’ which is suggestive of His Majesty’s status perhaps on a more personal level.  The way Kander has lit the image brings a complimentary soft appearance to His Majesty’s face, creating a rounded effect that separates him from the background.  An outlined shadow can be seen around the Prince and the overall hue of the image is cold but also rich in colour pigmentation.  I admire this image for its strong connection with the audience as Kander captures the Prince quite emotionally that is compelling and honest.

Week Review

This week, I have come to the end of Phase 1 and I shall now begin photographing objects with the individual in studio to prepare for the final piece.  I have decided to explore the theme of ‘Freedom’ for my final major outcome, with ‘Air’ as the natural element within the portrait series and installation.  My previous still life photo shoot of feathers is the concept which I shall bring forward where I shall photograph feathers once again while also using narrative story telling.  If successful,  feathers would be used as the featured items for the interactive aspect of the installation.  The use of feathers as the main installation interaction is also safe and manageable.

I have chosen to use ‘Freedom’ brings forward other related aspects to ideas of air bound activity or flight that involves the individual’s personal development in the narrative.  In terms of narrative, I could relate items to the individual by creating a conceptual story of freedom that empowers the individual with a bonding relationship to a natural element.  I originally proposed to also feature soft seating within the floor area of installation space; I may still pursue this, however, I do not intend to devalue the experience by limiting the mobility of the audience within the space.  My next steps to plan for this idea is to find a suitable, enclosed space and to begin practice for the final studio photo shoot during the course of the next two weeks.  As I am also still in Phase 2, further experiments may involve photographing other natural forms and environments such as the sky.  This may also be something that could also potentially contribute towards the final theme.

References

ARR Gosee (2016) ‘Severin Wendeler: Nadav Kander for Times Magazine‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.gosee.us (Accessed 01/08/2016)

ARR National Portrait Gallery (2016) ‘Nadav Kander-Person‘ {Online} Available from: http://www.npg.org.uk (Accessed 0/08/2016)

Phase 2 Practice: ‘From The Inside’ Interior Space Experimentation

Upon entering the second phase of my project, this week I am exploring the interior personal space through self portraiture.  For this practice, I have placed my focus on natural light while creating a short test narrative of how the individual longs to explore outside but expresses anxiety and fear.  I have taken this approach to experiment with how the natural element of light could be used as a key source that attracts the individual’s attention in terms of seeking a way out.  This is intended to represent the notion of hope in a situation where the individual feels trapped.  To create this series, I positioned the camera at a far corner of the space at a slightly high perspective to allow visibility of as much room space as possible.  I chose not to feature the window itself as my intention is to maintain a sense of the unknown where the audience can ponder what the individual is looking at outside.

Contact Sheets

During post production, I enhanced the images by adjusting the saturation and colour temperature of the images as well as cropping and adjusting the lighting using the curves tool.

This photograph shows the individual hugging a pillow as they gaze out to the outside world.

This image sees the individual turned away from the interior window, however the individual is still somewhat uncertain but also curious about what lies beyond beyond the interior space.

This final photograph has the individual address the presence of the viewer while sitting in a tight position so as to represent how the individual is tied between the interior space and the outside.

Conclusion

In conclusion to this experiment, this style of photography is reminiscent to the work of Gregory Crewdson, a cinematic photographer I have previously observed.  Similarly to Crewdson, I am bringing full attention to the individual within an isolated space where there is a sense of sentimentality.  The images may be too simplistic and there is barely any interaction with a particular object which takes a step back from still life and portraiture as a combined representation, however, my objective to explore portraiture within the interior space has been realised and the element of ‘light’ alone as a natural source brings good potential for future experiments.  However, I have decided to dismiss this experiment as a contender for the final major outcome and continue practice in the studio space as I intend to control the light with more intensity.