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.
Some more experiments with fizzing stars, flying comets and glowy milky-ways created in response to the Kick About #40! Using the same analogue technique of painting a sheet of glass black, sketching into that glass and propping a light source behind – who knew something so simple could provide oodles of entertainment!?
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.
With this weekskick 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.
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.
Some more photos from Ireland this past Winter. Taken during a trip to the mysterious Castle Hackett where the Irish fairy folk are housed. I remember vividly the ascent up to the peak of Castle Hackett, it was golden hour and the warming orange rimmed the tree-trunks and lit the flora ablaze.
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.
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.
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.
Previous to my last post with this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir” here I document the process of achieving such a grisly scene with my mug in a jar and various stumps and limbs being plopped into fluids as a cute keepsake. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors that has gone into creating the scene which I will get into, but first it needs to be explained the trials and tribulations of inserting my head into the jar in the first place. Because I didn’t want to rely too heavily on the edit, I decided to shoot the photos of me for the head with the red coming from dramatic lighting rather than editing. I simply tied a red gel cellophane sheet around one of my standing lamps to turn my room into a makeshift darkroom and continued to make myself look hideous by pulling faces all the while smushing my face against the glass of a picture frame to get the perfect ghastly shot and mimic as if my head was pressed against the inside of the jar. It was tricky at times because I had to angle the glass correctly so that the viewfinder and various screens and lamps would not obstruct the shot of my face and end up having to edit those reflections out. Here are some photos that did and didn’t make the cut. Enjoy.
For anyone that is reading this that isn’t familiar with 3D texture unwrapping, basically I used one of the above photos as the “centre piece” and then in photoshop I stitched together a left side and a separate right side shot of my head into one merged image. I did this so that when I printed the resulting image out it could be physically bended in a cylindrical curved shape and placed into the jar and behave like a real head.
I created an edit of the red to give the option of a sickly yellow and green.
However, my roommates printer started to run out of ink while printing and the A4 paper was too small, the ears and side of my head also needed be closer to the middle and I wasn’t going to use all his printer ink on my printing out my face. To alleviate the paper turning to mush inside the jar I was going to carefully stick strips of sellotape across the page to seal it in, although I kind of liked the thought of seeing what it would look like disintegrating. I knew I could get the results I wanted by manipulating the head photos in photoshop on top of the plate image of the scene and not have to print anything out but I wanted to give a whirl to the print out method.. and maybe pull a prank or two…
In the next post on Gentle Giant I will go into detail about the plethora of props used for the final scenes. Stay tuned.