Because I was thinking of doing Still Life for my project; I wanted to have a go on my own to see what I could do by myself. I didn’t think that I did it right; however this was only a test shoot, I used a white table cloth and had a black background, as I thought the glasses wouldn’t show up very well (I later learnt how to do this right). Below you can see that I have experimented with photographing me pouring water into the glass, two glasses at the same time, and photographing a glass that I broke when I started packing.
In one of our Digital Workflow sessions we were shown how to mask images together in Photoshop. Our whole grouped worked together to create a tableaux scene; we deciding where the camera was going to go, and we picked four people to be in the image positioning them in certain places in the shot. Each person was photographed and lit up with artificial lighting separately (plus we lit up some darker area in some places to lighten them up).
After taking all the images we were then shown how to mask the separate images into one image; we selected the images we wanted and then placed them in Photoshop and placed them all in a ‘stack‘ and erased any part of the images we didn’t need (in a couple of shoots the lights could be seen, using this technique we managed to get rid of them).
This workshop really helped me, and I reckon you could use this for other things too.
In this workshop we worked in groups and we had the choice of working outside on a location or work in the studio for our Tableaux work. Since I wasn’t interested in Tableaux from the beginning I wasn’t looking forward to this shoot; I wasn’t very keen on my ideas for this theme, but I’d thought I’d try them out and see what happened.
One of my ideas I had for my tableaux was using masks to hide identity, however I hadn’t really gone into much detail with this idea, since I wasn’t interested in doing this theme. I did also want to play around with shadows and Silhouettes.
In this image above Jane is; wearing a mask over her eyes, a scarf, and holding a fan, and her coat is done up. I didn’t really know where I was going with this; but now I know that this idea might not be possible (well I don’t think it is, because I don’t know how I would be able to expand on the idea, also I didn’t think that I would be able to make a series out of this).
Note: Japanese fans are symbolic; with the small end representing birth and the blades symbolizing the many possible paths leading away from this beginning, and are thought to keep away evil, also the colour and what is painted onto the fan is also symbolic – so maybe I could use the fan for something else in the future since they are so symbolic.
In groups; we worked together on different locations inside and outside the university. We went out with a Phase One P40 camera, a Mac laptop, a reflector, a light and stand, the camera was connected up to the laptop using a tether cable so when we shot our images, the images would show up onto the laptop and we could see how they looked while shooting; which is great for checking if the image in focus (nothing worse than getting back home from a shoot and finding the ones you liked aren’t in focus), this is also great for checking to see if everything is balanced and exposed right, because you can just change it if it’s not.
We found that it was quite difficult to balance the artificial light and natural lighting – it was a sunny day and the sun kept going behind clouds and then coming out again, this meant we had to keep changing the settings on the camera and the artificial lighting, because the image would either be to dark or too bright and over exposed. We moved inside and still had the same problem as the sun would shine through the windows; but in the end we managed to get some good images.
The images above show two different types of lighting (I suggest you click on the image if you want to see it bigger); the one on the left was natural lighting with no artificial light, while the other one on the right has artificial light shining onto Gabriella from the left, in front of the window. In the first image the shadows on her face aren’t very noticeable (the one with natural lighting); however in the second image, when we added extra lighting, the shadows became a lot more noticeable. We added the light near the window so it looked more natural and it makes it look as if the light is coming through the window. The artificial light made the shadows on Gabriella’s face stronger, we also shot the image with a shallow depth of field so only Gabriella was in focus, and everything in the background was blurred. With the artificial lighting the background is much darker than the one with the natural lighting, this is good; it adds drama, and makes the background less distracting. We also used a reflector to get some more light on to Gabriella’s face (the reflector was held up near the floor to the right), we did this so the right side of her face wouldn’t be too dark.
This workshop was a great way of trying out the equipment on locations; this has prepared me for what I need to do for if I need to go out on a location and shoot like this. It also great to see the difference between natural lighting and the artificial lights.
- Gregory Crewdon is an American photographer
Crewdson plans and creates staged scenes; based on American homes and streets, most have been made up and built on a set or have been shot on location, he uses natural lighting, artificial lights, artificial rain, backdrops and special effects to add drama and more detail (or highlight detail) to his images. His photos are meant to take place in small towns in America, but they’ve been manipulated to look more dramatic and cinematic – showing a surreal view (stereotype) on American lifestyle. They feel that they should be realistic but they seem more like fantasy/surreal and dramatic (like something out of a movie), they can sometimes be disturbing.
He has created several different series following this style called; Twilight and Beneath The Roses (I think there might be more, but I’m not sure). One image that he has done in this style called Ophelia (image shown above), which is an image of a women floating on her back in a flooded room and I believe it is linked to William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, (I also remember a painting by John Everett Millais, which looks very similar to Crewdson’s image – I believe the painting is also of Shakespeare’s character) so Crewdson has also been inspired by other people’s fictional characters. He’s added a modern ‘twist’ to this image, kinda like what Tom Hunter does; however Hunter’s is more realistic whereas Crewdson’s is more dramatic.
Without looking into what the images are really about I have started making your own stories and situations, like I did with some of my other research – and I like being able to do that, I don’t like having the story served up to me on a silver platter! I like to see how long it takes me to work it out, and I like seeing people to that to my work (it worries me when people can’t though!).
When looking at his work; I found myself ignoring the character (or the thing that looks like the main focus) and looking through the doorways, windows, objects on selves or tables, or even the mirrors (in one image a woman was sat at a dressing table and behind her, reflecting in a mirror, was a nude woman – it creeped me out the first time a saw it!). I would look in the background and things in the foreground, and try to spot any ‘hidden’ props or clues (maybe this is something I should think about when taking on the role of Carrie, this will require some planning).
When planning my Tableaux idea; I would like to work on a location that will suit the story, like a bedroom, and add props and pick certain clothing for my model to wear, that will add clues and help my audience to depict the story, or close to it anyway. Another idea I did have was using mirrors; but I’m not sure whether to play a character like Carrie or my own character. And another idea I would like to do is have a story flowing though my three final images, each images changes and progresses though the story either slowly like Duane Michals’ work (keeping the camera and location in the same place, but having the model or/and object change) or slightly bigger jumps like Cindy Sherman’s work (changing locations or moving the camera closer or fervour away from the model of subject).
- Research for Tableaux idea: “Mirrors: I could make a series of images like Duane Michals’ work, where the model or objects in the image changes each time, looks and interact with a mirror/s (narrates a story).” and “Based off books: I would like to look to Stephen King’s Carrie and have a shoot based of the story.”
- Cindy Sherman is an American photographer and film director.
Her most famous work (which I have been inspired by) are of her self portraits series called ‘untitled film stills,’ in these images Sherman places herself in her images and role plays as B-movie actresses. She would collect and wear different wigs, make-up, and clothing for different shoots, were she would play these characters for her images. She plays fictional roles – not actual people, roles that she has made up herself. Her roles are usually different stereotypes of women like a; housewife, prostitute, a woman crying or in distress, an actress or a dancer. Even though none of her images are the same, some of them link together – as she wears the same clothing, uses same props and in a similar (or exactly the same) locations, doing this expands on the stories in her work.
She recreates ‘common scene’ that might be seen in movies (like a woman getting ready to go out); the scenes that she creates each have their own stories to tell, they don’t require dialogue or any writing to tell us what is happening, however would that make any difference to her work? If I’m honest I’d still look at her work in the same way and try to make my own stories and deicide on my own what is going on. For example; I’ve looked at her images and often though that she was running away from someone, an ex-lover? from reality?
When creating images like tableaux; you need to be careful with what your models wear and what will be in the shot (set-up) and what props will be used. I don’t believe Sherman’s work is to be a tableaux but more portraits that are slightly narrative. But in these images; Sherman isn’t photographing herself, but she’s photographing herself as someone, I believe that portraits are to be personal and show people who you are, but again Sherman is acting as her own fictional characters, so does this how she feels? Does she feel connected to these characters she plays? Are they really her, but portrayed as different people? Has she lived though the lives of her characters or are their stories based on Sherman’s life?
For one of my portrait ideas I wanted to ‘recreate’ the tea party scene from Alice in Wonderland but have the characters’ portraits – I don’t want to illustrate the story, just have the shoot themed. But I’m worried that this would be wrong and the theme idea would illustrate it and then get mistaken for tableaux – when I want my portraits to be narrative.
I like Sherman work; she creates stories in her work and that’s what I would like to do for my tableaux work. However I want to base my work on someone else’s fictional characters; I don’t want to do exactly what Cindy Sherman does and create my own characters, because I don’t want to get penalized or criticize for people not being able to ‘identify’ or put a name to the characters. I was thinking of doing fairytale characters; but I felt that it’s been done too many times, also I’ve even done it for a previous project. So I wanted to look into roles that are not so well know of characters who are from books; but they are well know if you’ve read the books, I would like people to recognize the character/s and say things like; ‘that so and so from this book,’ but I don’t know if to do a well known book like Harry Potter or the Hunger Games or something I’ll be able to ‘recreate’ – like Stephen King’s Carrie!
- Research for tableaux idea: “Based off books: I would like to look to Stephen King’s Carrie and have a shoot based of the story.”
- Research for portrait idea: “Theme, Alice in Wonderland: I could follow in the footsteps of Alice and recreate some of the memorial scene in the book (like the tea party).”
- Francesca Woodman was an American photographer.
Some of Woodman’s black and white images have been taken with long exposure times; so when she or her models moved, it captured their movements as ‘ghostly’ blurred forms, and their faces can’t be seen which makes these image surreal – however not all her images have blurred figures, some of them are partly hidden behind objects/props that have been place on purpose or objects that were already at her locations (in most – but not all her images, her models or herself either have their faces covered with objects, blurred out due to movement or cropped out of the images).
The locations she used were big spaces with peeling wallpaper and wooden floor boards; sometimes she used things like the wallpaper or doorways to hide herself and her models, so they were hidden. And as I said before she; used props like mirrors, glass and cloth to help ‘distort’ her images further, mirrors would add a ‘second view’ to parts of the image that you wouldn’t have been able to see (for example; the model’s face and what is behind the subject).
When she used a long exposure time and had her subject move; the subject’s body would almost merge into surroundings, which could make people stop and look at the images closer, longer, or even for a second time, to make out what is in the image – it makes her work very unique! Having blurred figures makes you want to focus on the backgrounds and locations more, they made me wonder if the figures were really there? I did think that this could have reflected how Woodman felt at the time.
The meanings behind her images have been left as a debate as the message isn’t clearer enough to understand exactly what was going on in these images; however once you’ve sat down and study the image more – you start to make your own meanings behind the image and ask your own questions about it; it makes people more connected to the images as they might start thinking about personal stuff and make up their own stories for the image, I prefer this, because when I have people look at my work, it’s nice to hear what someone else thinks about it and what they think the story is, because their opinions and experience could be different to my own.
Some people have compared Francesca Woodman to Cindy Sherman; as Sherman tends to photograph herself and other female models as well in her images (or feminist photography).
When she used parts of the ripped wallpaper; it kinda links with ‘hiding’ idea for tableaux: “Masks: Have faces covered; either with a ballroom mask (Masquerade), or animal mask. Covering something up/hiding something.” I could use objects besides masks to hide people, but I don’t want to use long exposure times as I want to be able to see the figures for my tableaux images. In one of Woodman’s images she had her models hold what looks like a magazine cover or an image with someone else’s face on it, this ‘changes’ their identity! I would like to use this technique in my portraits and create blurred figures and capture ‘movement’ and have thing change or disappear within the exposer.
- Research for: “Capture Movement: I’d love to do some portraits that look at everyday movements, but I would like to show the movement in my work; like a long exposed image were you can see a ghostly figure move across the image. Examples of movements: walking, running, arms moving, covering eyes, dancing. I’m not too sure whether to do this in the studio or outside (maybe I should try out both).”