Experimental

Experiments in Self Portraiture: Space and Focus

Sian
Sian

This set had no real theme until I reviewed the images. When shooting I used the same method, one I feel I may have exhausted by now, as I had previously; setting the camera down on the ground and pointing it up towards me, and clicked away.

Besides the hand-in-front-of-the-camera style pose I’d seen a handful of times (heh) on Pinterest, that I wanted to try my hand at (heh), I had zero plans for this shoot… Instead I set about experimenting. Mixing up the focal lengths, sometimes I would hold the camera so close to my face that the auto-focus couldn’t quite register me, and, at other times, I’d move far enough away that I could fit my upper body and a hint of my knee in shot.

Many years ago, when I started taking photos, I would have deemed those where the subject was mainly out of focus fit for the cutting room floor. Now, especially as I become more creative, I see focus as simply another tool in a photographer’s arsenal. It leads the eye to a specific spot, and poses questions. Specifically ‘What does focusing on a specific spot, instead of the whole subject, say?’ or ‘Why do you think the photographer chose to focus the image on the area they did?’ and ‘What could it mean?’

Sian
Sian
Sian
Sian

I found the closer shots understandably more intimate, yet almost intrusive. Whereas the shots from a distance to have some sort of a disconnect. When I am close to the camera, filling the frame, it feels as though I am encroaching on the spectator’s space, whereas the further away I am, it feels like the viewer of the image is entering my personal space. Almost like they have stumbled across me. I find the differing sense of power behind these really interesting.

I also really like how contemplative they feel. I read Call Me By My Name as part of Bee’s wonderful book club earlier this year, and think the nature of the book has fed into these images. For me they encompass summer holiday, daydreaming, picnic by the water vibes. If the combination of these photographs were the opening shot of a movie, I can see the camera panning to reveal a beach, holiday home, or a coastline in a quiet seaside town - swiftly followed by a montage of me reading books, skimming stones, and rehashing teenage dramas.

Sian
Sian

This set has become an accidental study in space and focus. It’s made me realise how much I love both cluttered photos and shots where the subject is surrounded by a lot of blankness. I’m excited to continue to see how these can be toyed around with, to create meaning and unique imagery.

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Experiments in Self Portraiture: Filter

SianLandscape.jpg

I spend the majority of my time on Pinterest pinning portraits I find inspiring. Through doing this, I have come across a range of images that feature the use of prisms and filters; which fracture light and cause interesting visual effects. Instantly drawn to their magical quality, like a magpie to something shiny, I quickly purchased a set of my own.

Since studying A Level Photography, I have done bits of experimentation here or there, but this felt like the first time since then that I was working on a set of images where the subject wasn’t the experimental part of them. Instead of concentrating on my poses and expressions, I focused on the way the filter was positioned in relation to the camera and light, as well as my position to them. Making sure the filter was illuminated and I was too.

Sian
Sian
Sian
Sian

Unlike my other experimental portrait sets, this one required me to think a bit more technically. In addition to the aforementioned, I needed to consider how the filters were held. In order to create the desired fractured effects, the filter needed to be tilted, but lined up relatively close to the lens, for the duration of the shoot. So, whilst I placed the camera on the ground, pointed upwards towards me, and utilised the self-timer as I have done with self portraits previously, using the filters meant the distance I could be from the camera was limited.

Taking the time to get this right has left me with a set of images that I am proud of though. They’re all so majestic! I thoroughly enjoyed playing around, and getting to know how the filters work. It also led me to consider their suitability for specific shoots. One filter is a Pacman shape (used for the below, left image) that I think would be great for portrait shoots, and the other is a circular filter (used for the below, right image) which I think that would be perfect for shooting live shows. Can you imagine all of the show lights dancing around a guitarist, as their hair flies around? RAD.

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Sian
Sian
Sian

On initial review of these images, I favoured the images I took using the Pacman shaped filter. I think this may have been due to them feeling more familiar and simplistic, as the fractured part of the image is somewhat subtle - especially at a distance. Whereas, the more I look at them, the more I am drawn to the images taken using the circular filter. There is so much to explore visually that I am continuously finding something else I like about them.

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Making Trails

These photos were taken from a bridge over the A1(M). I have visited this spot a handful of times when I have a noisy mind. Finding comfort in the constant and loud hum of passing vehicles, and the way the rumble drones out most other sounds.

Making the most of the long days, as the end of Summer drew ever closer, Luke and I headed out with our cameras in hand. We had given up on chasing sunsets for the evening, and went to try our hand at long exposures instead.

I first set my camera up on a tripod to capture the trails of head and tail lights passing underneath us. Tinkering with the settings to find out which f-stop let enough light in to keep the lights illuminated, but the cars and location fairly dark. Underwhelmed by the results, I decided to pick the camera up and start experimenting with movement.

Considering these photos were not what I originally planned to capture, I am pleased with how they turned out! I am such a fiend for long exposures and light trails in photography that it is no surprise to me that I fell for these quite quickly. Especially after running them through Lightroom and Photoshop afterwards, and seeing the colours pop.

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