For this project the goal was to create artwork based on alternative input. I chose to experiment with existing light at night and how the camera can catch the range of colors and movements in the dark. I created two series of three photographs each. My central theme was to explore how the lights at night create a wide range of colors. My overall theme and goal of most of my recent photography is to show what the eye cannot see. The camera has the great ability to freeze, overlap and experiment with time.
Before this project, I had never truly worked at night. I have always liked how night photographs look and how detailed and abstract they can be but I have never done my own photo session while in the dark. My inspiration came from Kevin Fleming and his son. Both have mastered night photography and sell these images in their gallery. The main image I was trying to create was using a method to capture star trails. Also, I wanted to try painting with light (illuminating an object in the foreground with a flashlight). I started my experimental process by first researching methods, and the proper settings for night photography. I found that I needed a tripod and recommended a remote shutter release. This way there was no movement of the camera, which would mess up the photos. I went out and bought both. Also, through hours of research I found that I needed to find not only the bulb setting on my camera but that I also had to alter the white balance among other settings.
I set out the first night not really having a set goal. I wanted to try painting with light and also star trails. Well, this night there were no stars, only lightning. So I tried to photograph the lightning and pretty much failed. I then captured a few interesting images of the light within the waterfall/fountain near Good Pastor. I also experimented with placing myself within the images. I finally finished the night with a few images of cars going by on campus. Once I got home I decided the car images were the most compelling and goal oriented, and this was the path I began to follow. The second night of experimenting I headed strait for the road. First beginning by admissions facing the greens. I recorded through multiple slow shutter speeds the cars coming up the hill and over the first speed bump on college drive. This beginning shoot helped me determine the right shutter speed and other settings. I then progressed to route five and shot many photos of the cars driving on the road perpendicular to the camera. These images created a panorama style with the car lights painting the scenery. I placed myself within the images also and they turned out very nicely in my opinion. The idea was decided in class, to try and create panoramas from the shots, but I determined that it would not match up correctly and the images were stronger by themselves, not stitched together. I finally tried to paint with light. As I walked past Cobb house I realized it looked eerie and slightly haunted. I got the idea to use the flashlight to create a ghost-like trail up to the front door. In the end, the panorama style images won out and I chose to experiment further with this style.
For my final shoot I headed strait for Route Five, I knew what I wanted to capture. I captured multiple images of the road running horizontally in front of the lens, I took photographs in each location at least twice, once normally and then next with me in the image. Each shutter speed was over a minute long and took a lot of patience. Sometimes I would set the camera up and release the shutter, walk across the road to place myself within the image, then no car would go by, so I would not get the light I was striving for. Sometimes the light that cars made turned out very appealing and other times it lacked the right element I wanted. I ended the night with taking photos on top of the hill by Queen Anne Hall. I faced the camera toward the road and docks. It was here that I captured the remaining four images that I used, the large image with the two panoramas and all three of the second series. I created the second series of square images by using a blown glass blown over the lens. I then moved the bowl in and out like a lens would move in and out to focus. This is how the streaks of light that appear tunnel-like were created. I chose to format these images into squares because I wanted our eyes to move down the lights like a tunnel. I wanted the movement within my images to be constant. Also, within this series the large image was the closest in panning out to the last images being the widest angle. In the first series was displayed in that manner to show the streak of car lights the best as well as the set up being aesthetically appealing.
My work habits, I believe have gotten better over the years and with each class. I spread out my work well and did not procrastinate at all. I shot three times with a decant amount of time in between to asses the images I took. I also researched extensively first, which I have never done before. I also researched further before my last shoot, to make sure I took the best images I could. I think that I also stepped out of the box on this one by not only experimenting with night shots but by also not pushing things too far. I think one down fall in the past, was I tried too hard. I put too much effort into something that just flopped in the end. I took this project slow and though every detail out before finalizing it. I also stepped out of the box as to how I presented the images. Squares are slightly odd and even questionable at first but in the end I think they worked out very well. The panorama style was also a new way of presentation for me and I like the end result of these too.
If I were a viewer I would be immediately drawn into these images because of the colors and odd presentation style. The shapes are odd as well as the colors in comparison to the dark backgrounds. The colors are so rich and vivid creating sunburst and firework-like images. I would probably then after looking at the first series of panoramas and large image, would realize that in the panoramas there was a person. I would wonder why there was a person in the images and why they were on the road. Also, even though it appears as the same person, they are in different clothes so it may not be the same person. The first series would raise questions for me, and as an artist that was one of my main goals. Then I would progress to the second series of square images and of course look at the large one first, then move onto the second and third. I would recognize a lot of the same colors but also new vivid colors like orange. I would probably realize that both series were at night, both created by existing light but I would wonder about the second series. How was it made? Why all the lines and why three? Then I may realize that the large one is the closest in then the last is the furthest out. My main goal was not for the viewer to necessarily see the different framing and proximity but to just ask questions about both series and to look further into each image. I wanted the colors in the images to draw viewers in. If they were hanging on a wall I would like to put a short description saying that each image’s colors are close to raw. Those are the colors the camera captured at night, true hue.
I believe I deserve an A on this project because I took previous advice to keep experimenting and to think through my projects more. I tried a photography method I had never done before and researched beforehand. I did not go into this project blind and I feel that I have improved a lot since this assignment last year. What I fell short on last year I combatted this year. I stepped outside of the box in experimenting while shooting as well as printing. I used a different format with the panorama and square prints. Also my end result, mounted to the black foam boards was very professional looking and thought through. I am very pleased with my final images and personally think that they are some of the best photographs and projects I have ever made.