Short Film: Flowers of Fire

When I seen the prompt for Kick About #40 over on reds Kingdom I wanted to see if it was possible to make an animation using the same analogue technique of scraping patterns into black painted glass and using the magic of long exposure to produce a time-lapse of images to see the growth of each burst of light. It was possible – however my original efforts were undesirable and left things a bit muddled. Instead I tried to opt for something simpler by taking photos of each glass setup in pin prick focus and another in a diluted blur to then sandwich both the images next to each other so that a burst of light pops with a simple hard cut in the edit.

I wanted to mimic the life force of a firework display and have the festivities start off slow to gradually bubble to a climax before the the lights fade and the sound of people are no longer completely drowned out. Truth be told I made things harder for myself by shooting each image in 4K and was left scratching my head as to why it was originally painfully slow to edit this short film, by changing the resolution of each image to something my laptop could handle and reimporting, it was a complete joy to edit further. It was the kick in the arse I needed to get on with things and to remember the joy of seeing a short film through its end, lets make it on time for the next one.

Flowers Of Fire #4

Some more explorations with colour and light, using the same paired down kit of a sheet of black painted glass with scribbles dots and whirls scraped onto its surface and propped against a light source. The magic of long exposure photography turning them into ornate stained glass. I’m not quite done delving into this exhilarating technique just yet so expect more to come.

Flowers Of Fire #2

In the previous post I talked about how the blobby forms of this technique are my favourite. When the cameras focus was changed after the shutter had been pressed and left to linger for a moment made it so that the inside scratches were in focus but the colour bled out past the scratches into blobby forms. It took me a lot of tinkering to realise why my own experiments all were in focus no matter how much I fucked about with aperture and changed the focus, it was simply because my light source – in this case my iPad and laptop with abstract paintings as its wallpaper was sandwiched too close up towards the glass and simply moving the light source back about a foot gave the long lasted impression I longed for, I mean it when I say my face lit up with excitement…

To me the reason that the blobby ones hit different is because they ignite warm nostalgic memories that have otherwise been dormant, memories that are never crystal clear. These batch of images below reminds me of the town that I grew up in during the summer months as kid. August in the scorching heat, the nights pitch black, the annual rickety fair ground would come to town for the summer fair where my cousins, my friends and I would be hopped up on sugar (or booze if we could get it) and hurry onto all the fairground rides that nowadays would never even pass a safety inspection. One ride in particular was a bunch of cages called the rock-n- roll that rolled around as it spun, another ferris wheel form of this called the rock-o- plane were it was high above the ground.

The rock-n- roll ride had a wide strap that was pinned to your waist that was supposed to be your belt and there to protect you, when I look at this image I remember the plethora of bruises we all had on our skinny hips and abdomens from spam riding this death trap and I remember the pain – not from the bruises but from laughing so hard. I remember the rush of legging it onto the bumper cars to not be left with the shits ones that barely moved that would obviously be savaged by the faster glittery few. The smell of oil masked with popcorn, the feel of candy floss masking your teeth with grit as it melts to pure sugar, the sound of old cogs grinding and machines whirring. I remember the diamond shaped lights that rimmed and flickered the fairgrounds makeshift timber and beams. The strobe lights that made would flash making it seem as though we were in slow motion – freeze-framing us as we screamed our lungs out as we rocked and rolled into the night.

Flowers Of Fire #1

With this weeks kick about prompt being ancient Japanese illustrations of fireworks or “flowers of fire” you can imagine the offerings from artists all over are bursting with colour, light and pure spectacle! With my own submission I nicked a technique created by Phil Gomm that left my jaw completely ajar which you can see here, here and here The technique is created by simply painting a sheet of glass black, etching into that glass to create dots, swirls and lines and placing a light source behind to then photograph. To see such a simple setup create such magic hit me with a wave of inspiration and I knew it would be something that I would have to give a whirl of sometime. I think creative constraints a lot of time work in you favour as restrictions can stop the overwhelm of choice and help you out in the end and is something I want to remember. What I loved the most about experimenting with this technique is when the light bled out from within the lines to create a blob of colour around the crisp sketching – these examples are the first whack at it and it took me many attempts to figure out why this first batch of offerings are so crisp and do not have those blobs of bleeding colour that I craved. I became a bit obsessed with this outlet so there is many more on the way, including the fun blobby ones.

Throwback – Golden Hour Hues

Now that the evenings are creeping in I reminisce about times spent in Ireland during the Winter. I know that pictures of sunsets is one of the things that are overabundant on the internet but something magical happened on this particular evening on one of my usual routes trudging through the boglands of rural Ireland. I am no meteorologist but the gloomy clouds crept in out of nowhere during this trip while away in the distance the golden hour gleam lit up where I was standing in a brilliant red, Yes the photos have been edited to bring out the red but done so in a way to highlight how it felt in the moment, while further away the ghostly spherical arc of a rainbow could be seen. I felt like I was in the epicentre of a storm – it was one of those moments where I basked in what was going on around me and before I could take any more photos from different angles it was gone in an instant.

Double Exposure Experiments

Having a gawk through the many SD cards that are crammed with photos that have never seen the light of day, I decided to see if I could whip something up – something full of colour. These experiments have multiple photos spliced and transformed on-top of each other to create technicolour vistas where klieg like lights brighten up the sky for some make-believe event I wish I was going too. Many of the photos were taken way back when I first bought my treasured camera, experimenting in the dark when the streets were plumbing with ghostly fog and on top of a nearby park perishing in the winter to try and do some long exposure of the London skyline with its little dots of lights. The blocky shapes came from a recent trip to the design museum in London where I was more perplexed by the architecture in all its eerie vaulted ceilings rather than the actual exhibitions. A fun experiment that quenched my need for colour and my love of editing.

Phantoms Of Surrealism

When reading about Sheila Legge’s inspiration behind her walking real life surrealist exhibition for this weeks Kick About and how she was so inspired by the paintings of Dalí, I decided to create some Dalí-esque dream-like landscapes while paying homage to Legge’s face full of flowers. The female models were downloaded and imported into Maya where on their heads I glued an abundance of multicoloured flowers- tiger Lilly’s, Dahlia’s, Delphinium’s, African Lilly’s and Daisy’s. Combined with a quick and dirty rig and skin of the figures as well as some mountains in the background to complete the scene and move the figures to my every whim. The rig on the figure on the left of the above image messed up and I loved how fluid and melty the resulting movements turned out – I tried to replicate this mistake with the other rigs but my efforts did not gratify, It was one of those moments where a mistake tuned out to be a blessing but could not be recreated.

This prompt also reminded me of one of my favourite films – Annihilation (2018). In particular when the team walk across a baron land called “The Shimmer” where their bodies start to turn into plant matter. It is a strange and beautiful film that left a lasting impression on me, much in the same respect that surrealist paintings do.

Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #2 – The Props

Previous to my last post now that I knew the print was a fail and that I would rely on the edit to superimpose my head in the jar I started setting up the scene with the manner of props. I relied on a bunch of different things to achieve the final output, to get the jars filled with vivid colour like that of an alchemists apothecary I used yellow and red food colouring, a few drops was all that was needed to turn the clear water into a garish blood and greenish goo. I also used a trick I knew from creating my own halloween costumes as a young lad that was obsessed with zombies by combining corn syrup with red food colouring to make a blood like consistency as well as water colour paint for some different coloured jars and a tattered wig.

Lighting the scene was extremely important as I wanted it to reflect the coloured lighting seen in many horror and slasher films. I relied on bicycle lamps, head lamps and little fairy lights that were the saving grace that I bought for the upcoming short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. the lights were hidden behind the jars and behind angles behind the camera, the same red gel and crumpled it over one of the head lamps to give the a more reddish hue. I accidentally broke the main head jar a few weeks ago and it actually worked out in my favour as it was leaking the entire time but it added more of a theatrical sheen to the gloss of the table top which meant that the light bounced off the surface more.

One of my desks that usually contains most of my plants has a little hole in it – I would assume for cables and wires, I wanted to take advantage of this and place a light underneath the hole so that it projected though the largest head jar and light it up from underneath, with initial tests I had to put the timer of my camera on to ten seconds and quickly duck under the desk and hold the light up to get it just right However, I did manage to eventually wedge the light in between a wooden slat so that I didn’t have to stick my lanky self under the desk which was a win in itself, here is a not so glamours behind the scenes look at what that looked like.

The scene was now set, One of the most enjoyable aspects was experimenting with the lighting and placing the jars in places that reflected and bounced the light, all the while taking a plethora of photos from a range of angles.