Photomedia – Light work & Shutter Speed

This week we focused on exploring our learned knowledge on manual camera control, in particular, experimenting with shutter speeds. We began by setting up our cameras on Tripods and adjusting the settings manually to get the optimum settings to shoot in the dark to capture light.  Our technical instructor allowed us to play with different lights to gain various different effects. We were split into 3 groups, our group experimented with glow sticks and fairy lights. We also looked at a Pixel Stick, however, our group didn’t get the chance to use this.

Pixel Stick-

A Pixelstick paired with a low shutter speed allows you to paint with light within photographs. By definition, “The Pixelstick is a linear digital light panel packed with 200 full-colour (RGB) LEDs. Each LED is able to produce any colour and flash on and off at particular speeds and colour sequences. These programmable LEDs allow the Pixelstick to paint colourful patterns and photoreal images, which are in turn captured with a camera through a long exposure. The LED panel is mounted to a handle with an additional spin sleeve, designed for fluid ‘painting’ movements. Any bitmap (BMP) picture can be added to the Pixelstick on an SD memory card through the device’s controller.” (Coleman, T. 2015).

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Drawing with light – Shoot 1

Our group tried to incorporate a variety of different techniques and ideas when drawing with light although initially, we were experimenting in order to try and find the right settings. We used a variety of different lights but mostly a small strobe glowstick and a set of green fairly lights, aiming to create dark, shadowy and tonal images. Shooting in the dark with human subjects proved to be difficult because we struggled to get the portrait in focus however we decided that despite this week were happy with the way the images turned out because it adds to a dark and mysterious aura the images exhibit.

Contact Sheet:

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Francesca Woodman

Francesa Woodman produces black and white photographs that are symbolic for surrealism and an in-depth exploration of gender and self-identity issues in contexts of their surroundings. She if often unconventionally the feature of her images,  “she is either partially hidden, or concealed by slow exposures that blur her moving figure into a ghostly presence. This underlying vulnerability is further emphasised by the small and intimate format of the photographs. ” (Tate, 2016).

I find these images interesting because of the way the images because of their content and composition, I find that the portrait and figure are constructed in a sense that ‘merges’ with the object to recreate a new meaning.

Untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1978 –

Untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1978
Untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1978

The image is black and white, creating connotations of a bare, stripped back, nature, authentic and unprocessed feel. The composition consists of a chair seated in the centre of a room near a white wooden door. Due to this composition and the subject matter, this creates a sense of unease or disturbance because the image appears imperfect, unsymmetrical, raw and messy (paint spatters on the floor, rustic wooden floorboards). The image itself is lit from possibly a window, out of the frame and off to the left of the image meaning that a strong sense of tone and contrast. The image appears lightest towards the left of the frame and gradually gets darker as the composition progresses towards the right. Due to the white wooden door (left) being the lightest part of the image, a female arm is seen to be protruding into the image, this is accentuated by the tonal composition of the image. The arm reaching from the left appears much darker than the well-lit white door, drawing attention to this. Due to this nature, the image draws on connotations and themes of surrealism, disturbance and unease. I find the image interesting because of this.

Untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1978
Untitled, Boulder, Colorado, 1978

Similar to the last image, its is constructed in a tonal black ad white aesthetic which casts shadows in dark places.The composition is the same other than now, there is a woman seated on the chair in the middle of the frame. However, the woman is seated off-center, slightly towards the right of the chair giving the image an uneasy and disturbed setting. Again, the black and white appearance casts dark shadows; this draws attention to the structure and texture of the women’s body. Due to the lighting of the image, the left side of her body and breasts are one of the lightest areas in the image which creates connotations of sexualisation, intimacy and vulnerability as well as nature and purity; a conflicting combination.  The women pose on the chair, head facing left and body and eyes facing right, the pose appears awkward and stiff due to her posture and positioning of feet. Her eyes are looking off towards the darker areas of the right, off camera; creating a sense of unease, wonderment and mystery. Her pose and the fact that she is displayed in the nude creates a strong sense of intimacy and vulnerability. Due to the way the image is lit and how the woman is seated casts a subtle shadow/outline of the women’s head and shoulders onto the right-side of the white wash wall behind the women who appears vulnerable and delicate.

From Eel series, Rome, 1977–1978
From Eel series, Rome, 1977–1978

An exceptionally tonal image, creating a strong contrast between light and dark areas.  The woman appears to be led on her right side with her left arm extending out towards the left, curved around a bowl with an Eel in. The image appears to be lit from the top, casting highlights on the woman’s left side, back and shoulder blades. Due to this, the curves of her body are accentuated and sexualised. There is a contrast between the soft and delicate texture of her skin between the chaotic and busy patterned floor of which she is led on. Her head and body appear slightly blurred, indicates a small sense of movement, creating a sense of surrealism with the body’s ghostly and dream-like appearance, further creating a conflict/juxtaposition between the delicate appearance of the woman (soft and vulnerable) and the floor is harsh. (Connotations of softness, dream-like setting but also vulnerability, harshness and intimacy).

Untitled, Rome, 1977–1978
Untitled, Rome, 1977–1978

Again, strong tone and shadows and use of black and white imagery create a sense of stripped back, bareness and tonal composition. The image consists of a woman reaching out to a stone statue holding a ball. It is interesting that the statue is stone as it creates connotations of strength, roughness and refined structure.

The statue is placed on a platform, meaning that the statue is much larger and higher up in comparison to the small women; creates a sense of power and inferiority. The small size of the women in relation to the statue emphasises a sense of vulnerability but the way she is looking up and touching the statue seems as if she is accepting and powerless. The fact that the woman is touching the statue links to the idea of intimacy.

Providence, Rhode Island, 1976
Providence, Rhode Island, 1976

Due to the black and white aesthetic creating a sense of tone and contrast as well as creating connotations of barrenness. The image consists of a woman seated on a chair in an aged and worn room by a window. The rustic and aged nature of the room speaks for a harsh, rough and aged surrounding. The woman is seated on the chair in front of the window (slightly to the right of the image), the angle the woman is positioned alone accentuates the curves of her body along with the tone and texture of her skin. The woman’s posture appears stiff and awkward, her feet appear pointed and posed to connotate vulnerability, innocence and fragility. I am unsure as to why sh she is wearing shoes…  Towards the left of the image, on the floor, a shadow is projected. It appears to display the view of the woman from behind creating a sense of voyeurism or being watched. It is also interesting to mention that due to the lighting, tone of the image and woman’s pose, a dark shadow is projected on the woman’s lower abdomen; above her genitals meaning emphasising the possibly sexual nature of the image as well as projecting vulnerability, fragility and intimacy and possible distress.

It is interesting to mention that all these images feature black and white, tonal compositions that have very immediate effects on the viewers reading and interpretation. These images don’t appear stylised or aesthetically pleasing. It is important to acknowledge that Francesca Woodman is both the photographer and the subject of these images, what effect does this have on the outcome of the images? more control? It is crucial to mention also that these images were created with the intention of being very small with the intention to create a sense of vulnerability and intimacy also.

Reading Questions:

Social Types and Representation:

“How could do think about yourself and others if there wasn’t a whole world of cultural representation put there for you to draw on? Can we know reality other than through representation? What examples can you think of where your experience or identity has been shaped by a still or moving image?”

“What do you belong to and to what extent does this define ‘you’? Collect images (such as, but not necessarily, portraits) which depict people in terms of their belonging to or participation in a social group, as well as images that attempt to represent ‘types’ more generally.”

“For your work, you may decide to make images that emphasise the stereotyped nature of our received notions by exaggeration aspects, emphasising the artifice of the image and so on. Or you might make images that attempt to challenge our normal expectations of what a person in a certain occupation, or who consumes certain things, might look like. Either approach would involve you researching into what such people might really experience, or how they perceive themselves or what their social role actually is; and also collecting a range of representations – from film, TV, art, literature, photography.”


References:

Artnet Worldwide Corporation. (2016) http://www.artnet.com. Available from: http://www.artnet.com/artists/francesca-woodman/ [Accessed 7 October 2016]

Bitbanger LCC. (2016) PixelStick.com. Available from:http://www.thepixelstick.com/. [Accessed 7 October 2016]

Coleman, T. (2015) WexPhotographic.com. Available from:http://www.wexphotographic.com/blog/pixelstick-review [Accessed 7 October 2016]

Tate (2016) http://www.tate.com. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/woodman-providence-rhode-island-1976-ar00352 [Accessed 7 October 2016]

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