Wedding & Events
Set in a small bedroom, configuring the equipment in such a way that interesting lighting could be achieved proved difficult. For all of these images I used two LED panel lights on stands, as well as my Nikon D7200 with a 18-105mm f3.6-5.6 zoom lens on a tripod. As shown in the diagram below, I positioned the lights away from each other in order to use the lighting in different ways. The first smaller panel, I placed beside the only window in the room. Initially I intended on using the natural light but it was too soft due to the foggy conditions outside. In order to only capture the lighting I was purposefully using, I covered the entire window with black card and tape to block out the natural light. I then lent the LED panel against the window so it was angled slightly upwards. To diffuse the intense light emitted I closed the blinds and turned them to be just over 90 degrees open, this limited the light shining onto the bed and myself which aided in creating dynamic lighting. As for the second panel, I positioned that at the foot of the bed facing the white wall thus bouncing light back into the subject area. By bouncing the light I avoided over exposing the scene, as more light would have blown out the images due to the settings used. Once the lights were set up I proceeded to set up my camera. As mentioned, my camera was placed on a tripod, at a height of 1.75 metres (an approximate human eye level) and angled slightly down to give a sense of someone towering over the end of the bed and surveying the scene before them.
Throughout the shoot I used the following camera settings: ISO 400, f4.2 at 1/8 seconds. These settings are very typical for capturing indoor evening images, this is due to the way this configuration allows light to enter the camera. The aperture, shutter speed and ISO directly impact how much light the camera lens is exposed to. Using these figures I was able to capture crisp images without grain, with an average amount of light. I chose to not experiment with motion blur for this test shoot as I purely wanted to focus of generating posing and character ideas.
The images themselves are quite scarce. Other than myself, there is not much in the frame except some lace on the bed. I found this lace at IKEA and originally planned on shooting through it. However, as my research developed, it did not seem appropriate to do that with the themes I had settled upon conveying. To begin with, I used the lace as a make-shift blanket for modesty covering intimate areas with the fabric as taking this style of image was a little awkward. Despite this discomfort, I felt it was necessary to persevere with nude photography
as this is how I anticipated to incorporate my strongest concepts about the fetishised role of the viewer. I do feel on a whole the use of the lace is quite disappointing in these images. With more thought, the lace could be a powerful prop rather than a mere modesty sheet.
The general mood of these images is not strictly what I had hoped to achieve with the series that I will present MoMA. That being said, I am not disheartened considering this shoot was never intended to be part of the final works. Looking over the contact sheet, the images seem cold and mysterious. In order to offer a suggestion towards voyeurism, creating an environment in which the character is at home is important otherwise both the observer and the person being observed are out of place. To create this homely environment, I will change the way in which the lights are set up in order to create a warmer image and focus more towards orange and peach tones. Should this sense still be lacking, I may use other props to fill in the gaps and perhaps shoot with a wider frame to capture more of the surrounding area.
Another thing that I realised from this initial shoot is the importance of varied camera angles within the series. This shoot is quite one dimensional in the sense that the viewer only perceives the scene from a single position. The lack of variation as to the viewers’ positioning leads to an uninteresting series that has no definition or arc in its story.
Through further testing, more interesting camera angles need to be adopted. It may be worth asking the general public where they imagine someone would watch from; though I imagine completing such research to be difficult as people may not understand the concepts I am presenting.
'Untitled (10 of 24)'
This image has so much potential. Captured in such a way that it is apparent the character does not know that the camera is there, we are presented with a 'snapshot' of everyday life reminiscent of Nan Goldin's work in her 'Ballad of Sexual Dependency'. Is this character getting dressed? Are they getting into bed? It is not clear and that is what makes it so compelling. The subject gives nothing away as to the time of day, or their intent. Holding so much power through their knowledge within this image, the subject is elevated to a powerful position despite being captured from a higher angle, as though they are being looked down upon. This idea of the female character being in power despite being
in a subordinate position, compositionally, is reflective of history. This image addresses the power imbalance and how the struggles of femininity remain rife among modern day communities.
The sense of imbalance is further amplified by the creasing of the sheets in the background and the subject not being in focus. By having the camera focus beyond the subject I have created conflict in the minds of viewers. The main element of the image is not in focus which creates a battle for attention between the bedsheets (in focus) and the subject (out of focus). This conflict, coupled with the uneven balance captured, creates tension and intrigue about this photo.
This image is a great starting point to experiment from as the ideas are there but simply need developing.
Some other images from this shoot that I feel are worth keeping in mind whilst trialing techniques are, 'Untitled (3 of 24)' (below, left) due to the interesting crop of posing, 'Untitled (14 of 24)' (below, middle) which suggests objects can be used to portray my ideas and 'Untitled (20 of 24)' (below, right) as the use of leading lines within the body is compelling.
Yellow to Orange
Throughout the first test shoot I had my camera's white balance setting on 'Auto'. As this shoot was mainly for idea generation this isn't too much of an issue. Using the correct white balance setting is crucial towards the success of the series. Therefore, using the right setting from now onwards is key. At the start of Test Shoot Two I simply experimented with this aspect and the images below document this.
The first image (using replica settings and lighting from Test Shoot One) shows the outcome of shooting with the 'Auto' white balance (ISO 400, f4.2 at 1/8 seconds). The image has a slight yellow tint within the highlights. This yellow tinge, though only subtle, makes the image seem unnatural and almost bitter and sickly. The second image amplifies this. Having changed the lighting set up for the second shoot, the lights emit a more powerful, coloured light which isn't captured truthfully with the 'Auto' white balance feature on my camera. Capturing the light in this way is more abstract which isn't the goal of my work.
In Test Shoot Two I continued to use the same camera settings but changed the white balance to 'Incandescent' as I was now incorporating a new lighting set up. Now producing orange toned scenes in real-life, I chose to use the 'Incandescent' white balance setting as it felt more appropriate for the series as it captured the scene in the most honest way. I wanted to capture the images in this way as orange connotes homeliness, something I was looking to add to the images after the first test shoot, as well as stimulation and strength.
Admittedly, I am still a little unhappy with the way that the lace picks up strong yellow tones due to it being a much brighter shade of white than the mattress sheet and pillows. Despite this, I think it looks far better that the first two images, and the images captured with the subject seem to balance the yellow colour with the colours produced on the subject's skin. Should I have realised this 'yellow-ness' at the time of shooting, I could have added a slightly blue toned light over the lace. Using a blue toned light would have lessened the yellow colours produced as blue and yellow are opposites on the colour wheel, meaning the lace would have been captured in a purer way with its white colour being more prominent. With this technique, I would encounter difficulties such as setting up that third light as I do not have a lighting rig, and also the potential for the shadows to pick up a blue colour.
In the first test shoot there was an apparent absence of warmth within the images. To address this, I altered the lighting set up in such a way to produce warmer tones from the left and balance that with subtle lighting from a small LED panel on the right. To capture these warm tones, I used a household lamp with a tungsten filament bulb. This type of bulb allowed a hazy kind of warmth to be dispersed across the scene. Initially I was going to use the large LED panel used in Test Shoot One rather than a household lamp; I could have altered the LED panel settings in such a way that the light was more orange toned than in the first shoot. I decided against this from the beginning as I felt using LEDs would leave me at a disadvantage as, unlike the bulb, LEDs are directional and emit light for 180 degrees. By using the bulb, I could include lighting that was omnidirectional which is more typical in a home. After feeling that the images from Test Shoot One were too cold and that both the viewer and the subject looked out of place, it was important for me to begin producing works that reflected the subject in such a way that they seem at ease and comfortable. A sure fire way to do this would be to place them in their own home. As viewers, we have no certainty that this character is in fact in their home. However, the scenes captured are warm and intimate- adjectives often associated with a homely environment.
On a whole, the images are much more diverse than those of Test Shoot One. Taking inspiration from Cindy Sherman's 'Untitled Film Stills', I incorporated interesting camera angles and varied distance from the subject. The assortment of images strengthens the series and creates a more well-rounded response to the themes I am working with. These images are, in basic ways, provocative which helps to convey the fetishistic role of the viewer, though I think this could be heightened through the use of varied photographic practices. Capturing motion blur, as I set out to do in the planning stages, will likely magnify the voyeuristic nature of the viewer as the theme of intimacy will be prevalent and seem fast and vigorous.
A sense of character is more clear from this set of images as we are presented with a woman who is outwardly sexual and unapologetic. The use of interesting posing aided in the characterisation. Initially, I was relying upon nudity to provide a sense of who the subject was. As the shoot developed, it was clear that character is shown through actions if it cannot be done through words. Despite having captured a more clear character, the subject remains anonymous. The ambiguity as to who exactly this person is creates an interesting scenario in which the viewer can associate this 'faceless' character with a person of their own choosing. Does this make the images gratifying, or rather the viewer self-gratifying? Personally, I think it would be interesting to experiment with creating this effect in order to experience its effects and test whether there is a better way of producing an image that is pleasing.
I made a point of trialing the effects of shallow depth of field within this shoot. Having captured crisp images in Test Shoot One, I felt it was more interesting to have imagery that seemed unexpected and unprofessional. I associate these adjectives with the works of Nan Goldin and Gary Winogrand, who are widely known in the art world for their snapshot aesthetic.
'Untitled (3 of 33)'
Experimenting with varied focal points and depths of field allowed me to produce numerous outcomes from a single frame. 'Untitled (3 of 33)' shows the progression from the previous images of 'Untitled (1 of 33)' and 'Untitled (2 of 33)' . For '3', I used a slightly larger aperture of f8 to allow the deeper sections of the image to be in focus. Typically when changing aperture, I would also adapt ISO and shutter speed values. However, I chose against this as I was happy with the image produced.
I set the focal point between the subject's shoulder blades. I did so by using a wireless mobile adapter which gave me the capacity to set the focus and operate the camera shutter from my mobile. Using the Nikon WU-1a adapter made capturing these images much easier as I could be
both in frame and shooting at the same time. Having the focal point set beyond the feet meant they became out of focus adding shallow depth of field, albeit in a poor fashion. I am not happy with this image as the crop is very tight. It may be improved by moving the camera further away and capturing more of the feet and ankle to strengthen the shallow depth of field thus making it seem more intentional.
A better showcase of shallow depth of field is that of 'Untitled (25 of 33)' with the hand in the front crisp and centered, whilst the background is blurred but remains legible.
'Untitled (13 of 33)' & 'Untitled (15 of 33)'
A clear flaunt of that sexual and unapologetic character, images 'Untitled (13 of 33)' and 'Untitled (15 of 33)' are dark and seedy. I did not intend on incorporating images that touch upon the outskirts of fetish culture, yet it came quite naturally after talking through my themes with others. It was established that voyeurism is, quite understandably, a taboo and associated with the likes of BDSM and role play. In fact, glamour.com have voyeurism listed in their article 'From A-Z: A list of kinks and fetishes you should know about', written by Angie Jones in June 2020. Having found a way in which my work could be falling short, I looked through the article and considered what kinds of posing I could use to achieve a more accurate depiction. Of course I couldn't, and wouldn't, capture myself indisposed in an array of scenes that blatantly show sexual acts of fetish culture as that would be inappropriate for a MoMA exhibition. Instead, I would use more suggestive posing and crops to implicate the subject in non-specific acts.
An example of this is the posing in images '13' and '15' (right). The subject is positioned in such a way that it looks as though she is sucking someones fingers; an act which is said to foreshadow oral sex*. The images on a whole are no more than fine photographically, primarily due to them being out of focus. The fuzzy perspective is interesting on a conceptual level, however, and provides a sense of this private act being unimportant. Further to this, by having the hand in focus, the relevance within the images is shifted and now the important thing is the hand reaching in a being involved in the scene. The positioning of the hand implicates the viewer. The way in which it is positioned in frame,
coupled with the camera angle, gives the idea that this is the viewer's hand. Being embroiled in this scene is going to split audiences into two distinct groups: the gratified, who ultimately personify the phallocentrism I was hoping to convey, and the displeased. The hand, in both images, acts as a leading line towards the subject's open mouth. As a generally provocative symbol, throughout the photography industry models tend to pose with open or slightly parted lips as it is considered 'sexy' compared to firmly shut, vice-like ones. Playing on this stereotype allowed me to portray a universally recognised image of sensuality.
'Untitled (13 of 33)' displays use of the Fibonacci spiral, a compositional element used in many mediums including architecture for centuries. The spiral allows the image to flow smoothly from one section to the next, displaying itself as clear and easy to view. The second image, 'Untitled (15 of 33)', shows rule of thirds. The subject's mouth is centered in the top third of the image, whilst the outstretched fingers are along the bottom two thirds on the right. By having the image composed this way, the subject seems less worthy of attention, heightened by her being out of focus. This unworthy nature of the subject is a slight nod towards the 'dom/sub' fetish where the subordinate, in this case the subject, is lesser than the dominant and often subjected to name calling and degradation; widely used is the idea of the 'sub' being 'worthless'. This power play within the images is another example of using focus to create unbalance and conflict with the viewer.
It would be interesting to create more implied images, where sex and intimacy is implied through posing, compositional elements and, perhaps, lighting. By creating more of these images, I can assess which kinds of photograph will be more receptive with viewers, as well as give me opportunity to further develop basic concepts of the fetish world to try incorporate within my work. I will also re-shoot '13' and '15' with the subject's mouth in focus to see how that effects the mood and understanding of the images.
Creating a Uniform Series
The key to a good series is to maintain consistency. The lighting and the composition of each scene can be different in each image, however, you will not find a series of work displayed in The Museum of Modern Art that is completely random, unless that is the point of that specific set. As much as I would like to produce a diverse set of images, I also need to maintain a sense of uniformity within my work.
'Untitled (19 of 33)', as well as others, stand out within this shoot. The image is much brighter and is overexposed. For this image, I used the large LED panel to bounce light from the white wall in the background which resulted in too much light. Despite liking this image, it stands out from the rest of my work which expresses darker tones with warm colours. I think this image is, in its own right, powerful and could express the euphoria of female orgasm, an overlooked feature of sex and intimacy. Even though these concepts are relevant to the series I am looking to produce, I will not be including this image in the submission as it is simply just too bright, having a single image that is overexposed could be worth exploring but I think I could capture something more interesting than that of '19'.
'Untitled (20 of 33)' is a re-shoot of the same scene but instead of using the LED panel, I continued to use the lighting set up as described in the beginning of Test Shoot Two. This image is rather lack luster compared to its counterpart. Although this image is more fitting of what has already been captured, '20' is less invasive and true to the jubilation captured in '19'. The compelling aspect of the previous image was that it was bright and stood out, the same cannot be said for '20' and this is why it is very plain looking.
As for the way the subject is captured in both images, I am satisfied. The anonymity as to who the subject is has been maintained whilst, in '19', managing to develop a sense of feeling. I can also appreciate the shallow depth of field and how the indistinct scene could represent a memory or could also be a snapshot of the present moment; both renditions offering something different to the viewer.
Having developed a lighting outcome that I was happy with in Test Shoot Two, I wanted to replicate the same effect within the bedroom. I proceeded to use the lamp with a tungsten filament bulb as my sole source of light in the images. I had already established that this lighting was suitable for the shoot concepts so I didn't waste time altering a set up that already had validity.
It was important for the corridor outside the bedroom to remain dark as this is where the camera was situated. I wanted to make a scene that would have mixed responses, and these would be directly impacted by the lighting. I wanted to provide a sense of intrusion and violation of the subjects' privacy. In order to do this, I needed to place the camera in such a way that it would seem probable that no one knew it was there and, since the camera substitutes the viewer, it needed to be a position that a human could easily fill. I chose simplicity over an intricate scene with many clues and objects of intrigue as I thought it could become distracting. Having the camera merely placed on a tripod at the level of the bedroom door handle in a dark corridor, suggested that the viewer is lurking in the subjects' home silently watching the scene unfold. Not only did having the camera at door handle height create a varied camera angle than in other test shoots, it also placed the viewer in a more impudent position that suggested they had involvement in opening the door and are as close to the subjects' intimacy as they possibly can be without being noticed. With hope, these ideas will make viewers feel either uncomfortable, or excited.
By using a singular light within the bedroom, I was able to create a defined separation between the sensual, intimacy of the subjects' world and the strange, neurotic world of the voyeur. It is a little cliche but that separation is key in defining who is meant to be there and who isn't.
Another way in which I add separation is through the framing. I have framed all of the images in this shoot through a partially open door. I have involved the door within my storytelling process as it is an everyday way to easily frame subjects and doesn't seem too forced. Firstly, the door addresses the relationship between the subjects' and the camera/viewer. How far away and how far open the door is can help make a clear statement on characters' feelings. By having the camera positioned as close to the subjects as possible, whilst remaining on the outskirts, provides a sense of desperation from the voyeur to be involved, or at the very least, in the same room. As well as this, it aids in creating the sensuality within the subjects' environment as it is apparent they are so caught up in their actions that they do not notice being watched.
The partial opening in the door can be explained in two ways: the
subjects never closed the door, or the voyeur opened it undetected in order to watch. Should the latter be the case, it creates a very unsettling mood about the image, making all real-life acts of intimacy seem vulnerable and delicate. This heightens the invasion privacy as most people naturally crave this over their personal life and actions. By reinforcing the idea of all people pining for privacy, this work suddenly becomes reflective of most people's greatest fear: being seen truthfully in our most vulnerable state.
Opposing this is the idea that the subjects never closed the door to begin with. Should this be the case, there is still a sense of vulnerability as they likely did not imagine that they would be watched, but there is also a sense of ownership and pride. If the images from Test Shoot Two and Three are pulled together, we are presented with a women of sexual prowess who is collected and in control. She does not feel the need to protect her sexuality by closing physical barriers in the world and feels free to be herself, unconstrained.
The fact of the matter is that as viewers there is no specification as to why the door is ajar. Does this make the image illegible? Simply put, no. The image has varied storylines as decided by each viewer, and the storyline taken speaks volumes about the viewers' intent and whether they use my photographic art as a means of satisfaction.
'Untitled (2 of 20)'
Being that this was one of the first images taken, it's no surprise that I feel this image is captured poorly. The image is is not very pleasing to look at, not necessarily in a sexual sense but in a general way. It is very clumsy looking, seeming as though the process of taking photos was rushed and carefree. This was not the case. Coming across as unexciting, this image is framed badly, effectively decapitating the subjects at the knees. One of the unspoken rules of photography is to not crop at the joints as it looks unflattering and unnatural. Despite this being the realistic way for this scene to look, it does not translate well on camera. There are lot's of limbs, all without purpose within the frame.
Regardless, 'Untitled (2 of 20)' captures the themes of voyeurism, nudity and intimacy in a direct, yet thoughtful way. Even though it is not the easiest photo to observe, it is successful in using depth of field to maintain a delicate level of privacy within the scene. Using an aperture of f11 allowed the middle of the image to be in sharp focus whilst the foreground and background remain slightly obscured. The focus is on wooden door, slightly above the door handle. In retrospect, having the focal point on the door handle would have been more interesting as this would provoke direct questioning about the circumstances of the door being open. I continued to shoot with an ISO of 400, maintaining grain-free imagery, and had a shutter speed of 1/8 seconds to capture optimum light. I also continued to shoot using the 'Incadescent' white balance setting.
'Untitled (18 of 20)'
Compositionally, this image is much better than that of 'Untitled (2 of 20)'. By rotating the subjects' positioning, the camera/viewer are much closer making the image seem more invasive. Also, by changing their orientation, the lighting is more interesting with highlights, mid-tones and shadows all visible compared to '2' which was much flatter in appearance.
Within this image there is clear motion blur, to capture this I used a slower shutter speed in order to pick up on the movement. With a shutter speed of 1/4 seconds I also had to change the aperture to f8 in order to allow more light into the camera to aid in capturing the movement. I maintained my ISO at 400. I had the male model rock in place whilst he was over the top of me with his knees slightly under my hips. Having him so close to me meant that his rocking movement caused my body to move with him and create motion blur across both of our bodies. This image is more honest of real-life intimacy and shows the fast paced vigor of it.
Both subjects are effectively faceless within this image, the motion blur obscures the facial features of the male subject and the female's face is completely out of frame. Again, alike to the images from Test Shoot Two, this 'faceless-ness' allows viewers to interpret the image as they wish, perhaps filling the position of the male model in search of self-gratification, or imagining these characters are people of their choosing. Further to this, the ambiguity as to who the characters are make the scene relatable as most adults can liken this image with an experience they've previously had or ,at the very least, have imagined.
As viewers, we are left wondering whether it is important that the female subject's face is not in frame whilst the male's is. Does this make her lesser than her male counterpart? Does this show the phallocentric nature of art with this image featuring mainly the male? I had no intention in making the male the significant feature of this image, quite the opposite in fact. Yes, he is on top and presumably in control of the situation, but he is not the person that creates the sensuality. Without a woman present, this image would be awkward. If this image represented male self-pleasure it would be deemed
inappropriate by many. It is not the same for women, shown through 'Untitled (20 of 20)' (below, right) which shows the female subject alone in such a way that reflects her pleasure. The sheer presence of a female figure is what gives '18' such a profoundly carnal feel. Ultimately, the driving force may be the male subject, but the female subject is in fact the captain and the fact that she should be faceless is extremely important, reflecting how women can be the hidden agenda behind sexualised art.
The use of lines within the images from this shoot is compelling. The door handle acts as a leading line in each image, guiding the viewer through the image into the bedroom towards the center of the frame where the action is taking place. The parallel lines produced by the door edge and door frame, not only frame the scene, draw the viewer down towards the subjects in the bottom half of the frame. The negative space above them provides 'breathing room', giving the viewers' eyes rest and avoids building a scene that is too cluttered. The fact that the space is above the pair suggests that the male is not oppressive of the female subject as she has room to grow and reach. If this image had been taken with a landscape orientation, the scene would seem claustrophobic and lacking room for movement, giving a sense of confinement.
There are more parallel lines produced between the headboard of the bed, and the subjects' spines. The parallel nature of the lines suggests continuity and stability, both of which aid in developing a stable intimate life.
For the most part, my work has reflected sex in an intimate and safe light which is not always the case. Throughout the arts, we are presented with hot and steamy portrayals of love-making and intimacy, it only makes sense that I should attempt this kind of imagery in order to establish whether art truly is, in the first instance, produced for the males' benefit. Picasso's 'The Kiss' (above) is no chaste and romantic touch of the lips but, instead, a carnal encounter of tongues. As Jonathan Jones from The Guardian said in September 2014, 'clearly it is not so much a kiss he is portraying as an ecstatic allegory of all the copulations he can remember'. Should my own work not be reflective of both my personal encounters and the portrayals of sex throughout art history?
Feeling that these images would be more focused upon the story that they present, a simplistic, yet effective lighting setup would be required (see diagram to right). This shoot was held in a car on a private driveway in Flockton, near Wakefield. The driveway was shielded from the lights of passing cars by stacked timber on one side and a embankment on the other. This isolated environment was
necessary so as to ensure only intentional light was being captured; unwanted light could distract from the image or even negate the lighting effects I had set up. I chose to use a Bowen Gemini GM500r on a tripod as I felt a portable studio flash would produce the best effects for what I was wanting to create.
I knew, before setting up, that I wanted to begin by framing the scene through the backseat windows as it is the place most associated with sex in a car. My intention was to silhouette myself within the car in positions that implied sexual acts were occurring. In order to produce a silhouette, I positioned the Bowen directly opposite the camera, facing into the car. Having this set up allowed the light produced by the flash to fill the car and, since light travels in straight lines, get stopped by my body to produce the form of my character. This setup was simple and effective for what I was creating. I did encounter one difficulty, however. I had the flash synced to my camera via an infrared device which, when the shutter was released, produced a syncopated flash of light from the Bowen. To do so, the device flashed an infrared light which would then be received by the Bowen. In order for the connection to be successful, the infrared light needed to be in view of the Bowen which, with a car in between, proved difficult. I had wanted to fill the frame with the window scene but had to move my camera further away from the car, and position it higher in order to utilise the flash lighting. Having to change the positioning of the camera meant I could not produce an image that took up the entire frame, but instead captured the scene lower down the frame surrounded by the darkness of the night.
I only had one opportunity to capture these images as I had hired the land from a local farmer, having the time restriction meant I couldn't simply conclude the shoot in order to source a different type of transmitter which would have allowed me to shoot the fuller frame image that I was looking to achieve. This restriction is also one of the reasons that this test shoot has considerably more photos than the other shoot. Overall, the images are interesting to look at and do provide a sense of danger, albeit not for the viewer/voyeur.
Midway through the shoot I decided on capturing the scene in a different way, focused on producing an image that sported a different camera angle and alternative use of the lighting (see diagram below). Rather than setting the Bowen and the camera parallel to the car, I had both set up on different angles. For the Bowen, I still wanted the light to come from the opposite side of the car to the camera but did not want to produce a full silhouette. Instead, I wanted to produce images that were side lit, using the Bowen in such a way that it represented a brilliant white street lamp. To achieve this I had the driver-side door open and positioned the Bowen perpendicular to my elbow when sat upright in the front passenger seat. I had the light angled 45 degrees to the left of me causing the light to flood the car's dashboard. On the other side of the car I had my camera at a height of 1 metre, pointing halfway between the wing mirror and the front passenger window. 'Untitled (53 of 73)' and 'Untitled (54 of 73)' show my test shots for this setup. I was happy to have created a frame where the light was reflected in the wing mirror, as well as capturing the car interior in such a way that it fit with the images taken previously in this shoot. '54' was my final test of the framing. I chose to have more space to the left of the wing mirror than in '53' to allow the image to seem less tight to the camera frame, providing breathing room. Also, this space meant the bokeh light glare didn't overlap the wing mirror as much as in '53', making a more satisfying image. Having the light set up in this way brought new
difficulties, the main one being that the positioning of my body directly impacted the effectiveness of the reflection in the wing mirror. An example of this would be 'Untitled (66 of 73)' where the wing mirror is completely dark to the point that it is barely visible.
The general mood within this set of images has progressed from that of the other test shoots. Here we are presented with an outwardly cold environment that is mysterious and striking. The bright lighting produced by the Bowen provides that sense of coldness as well as detailing the steamy car windows and rain drops on the exterior of the vehicle. The blatantly steamed up windows provide balance to the numbing exterior environment by showcasing the heat within the car, as well as aiding the story behind the image. Besides the brilliant flash of light, the scene is submerged in the darkness of the outer nighttime conditions. This 'blackness' creates a void around the heated intimacy, balancing the icy white light and painting a picture as to the extent of the remote location. The use of negative space is compelling, pushing the main subject of the image down to the latter half of the frame in an almost symbolic act of dominance. The ambiguity of the character is much stronger within this set of images compared to the previous shoots where an identity is established. By having no information as to whether this character is the same character from the other sets, there is more freedom to express a differing viewpoint and approach the themes in an alternative way. Expressing multiple perspectives on the themes I am handling will make the final series well-rounded and unbiased. I shot all of the images alone in
an attempt to prove that the male gaze is strong and will create its own second party, aided by my often suggestive posing. The most compelling images, such as 'Untitled (57 of 73)' and 'Untitled (72 of 73)' are not explicitly sexual but alongside the other images are provocative and become fetishised.
Getting the Right Settings
As I was now shooting in a different location with different lighting, I needed to change my camera settings in order to capture images that were well exposed and clear. I would continue to use ISO 400 through this test shoot to maintain grain free imagery. Furthermore, I would be proceeding with a shutter speed of 1/125 seconds for optimal synchronisation with the Bowen flash. As the shoot was being held in the evening when it was dark, I would have to adapt the aperture, negotiating varying levels of light, for well lit work. 'Untitled (2 of 73)', 'Untitled (3 of 73)' and 'Untitled (4 of 73)' document my trialling of different settings.
The first image uses ISO 400, f29 at 1/125 seconds. '2' is a very dark image that handles the steam on the windows in detail. Using an aperture of f29 meant the camera lens was narrowly open, allowing less light to pass through the camera. The darkness captured wasn't truthfully reflecting the appearance of the Bowen flash. With honest imagery having been established as being key towards the success of my work, I needed to reduce the f-stop to capture images that were more forthcoming of the real-life scene.
For 'Untitled (3 of 73)' I used ISO 400, f4.5 at 1/125 seconds. Using a smaller aperture meant much more light was exposed to the camera lens. Allowing more light captured the bright white nature of the Bowen flash. This excess in light led to a large amount of lens flare which was distracting. As I was using the Bowen on the lowest flash setting, the flash wasn't this bright to the eye making this image an inaccurate depiction of the scene. Having gone from f29 to f4.5, it was clear that I needed to find a midpoint that would capture optimal light with little distraction. Utilising an aperture that is between these two settings would also maintain detail in the car window. The blown out nature of '3' leads to the majority of the window to be white with no detailing which makes the scene uninteresting. The way that the light is captured here has different connotations to what I was wanting also. Not too dissimilar to the lighting used in Gregory Crewdson's 'Untitled (Beer Dreams)' from his 1998 'Twilight' series, this image has a sense of alien action about it. The bright lighting captured looks to represent the beam of light from an extraterrestrial craft, straying from the ideas I am actually looking to capture. In order to ensure there is no confusion that this series may be about close encounters with aliens, or abduction, I must ensure the lighting does not look reminiscent of other alien based artworks.
Throughout the shoot I used the settings adopted in 'Untitled (4 of 73)'. These settings captured the scene with a harmonious balance of detail and bright light. F16 seemed to be the 'happy middle' that I sought after capturing '2' and '3'. There was sufficient light to capture a clear silhouette, whilst maintaining the detail of the steam and rain on the window. As well as this, using a mid-way aperture allowed me to keep the negative space around the window, something that I was starting to lose with the lower aperture setting in '3'. There is still lens flare, this is due to the light being positioned opposite to the camera which causes the internal mirrors to bounce and reflect light. After capturing major lens flare in 'Untitled (3 of 73)', I wanted to make sure it was still present but in a more subtle way. If done well, the 'ghosts' produced by lens flare can aid in creating a sense of realism. I think I have managed this. Alternatively, I have created an interesting visual experience for the viewer which is the goal of any photographer.
It may have been interesting to see the effects of using a stronger flash setting, perhaps of 1.5 or 2, to see how the light emitted would have effected the images. I did not do this as I was shooting close to a moderately busy road and didn't want to create flashes of light that were substantial enough to distract those driving by shoot location. In retrospect, I could have trialed the effects of this in an alternative location separate to this shoot so I could know the impact and assess its appropriateness.
'Untitled (10 of 73)'
Focusing on producing a scene that reads as more dangerous than my previous work, 'Untitled (10 of 73)' presents a character inside a steamed up vehicle in an unknown location. Captured through the steamed up rear passenger windows, this image feels like an embarrassing affair for both the viewer and the character involved. Have we just stumbled across two passionate lovers? It would seem that way through the suggestive posing and the hot car interior, although, there is no direct notion of this being the case. Only one character is clearly visible in frame. The silhouette captured in the right corner of the window could
be another person, but could also be the seat headrest; it is not clear. The way in which this image is composed suggests there is a second person missing from the scene. Using the Fibonacci spiral to guide the eye, viewers are drawn to the empty space to the right of the figure yearning for more. It feels incomplete that there is not another figure there. The mystery as to whether there is, or should be a second character present is only heightened by the icy lighting, reminiscent of a horror film.
The unnerving mood of this image is amplified through the ambiguity of the character in frame. With no distinguishing features, there is no link as to who this is or, subsequently, why they are there. When presented alongside the likes of 'Untitled (39 of 73)' and 'Untitled (45 of 73)' there is a clear showcase of what is occurring within the car. The idea that the character is fooling around in the back of a car in a dark place seems dangerous when captured in this way. With the cold lighting amplifying this, we are wary of what could happen here. The sense of wary can also be substituted for being aroused. To some people the idea of sex in public is extremely attractive, and the fear of being caught only amplifies it. The potential for arousal with this piece of work is what makes it relevant to the themes I have chosen.
Golden Ratio and the Fibonacci Spiral
Golden ratio is a compositional guide that helps guide the viewers' eyes through images, and helps produce a more pleasing and balanced image. It existed before the birth of photography and was used in other forms such as architecture and painting. Originating in the field of mathematics, Leonardo Fibonacci birthed the ratio when arranging a series of numbers. In mathematical terms the golden ratio is 1.618:1, translating that to photographic practice the Fibonacci spiral in particular is based upon spirals in nature like ocean waves and DNA. Famous examples of the golden ratio include Egyptian pyramids, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
Built upon a series of squares that are based on Fibonacci numbers, the Fibonacci spiral is one type of golden ratio. The spiral is created through arcs connecting the opposite corners of each square. This spiraling pattern appears naturally in a multitude of places and resembles a shell.
The curve flows through the frame and leads your eye around the picture in a similar way to the diagram (right).
I have chosen to pull this image, 'Untitled (55 of 73)', out from the contact sheet as I thought the sweeping line towards the window looked interesting. This leading line was captured completely by chance. As I was in the car posing for the photos, the wind blew and a plastic bag that I had hooked to my tripod came into frame in the way shown. I was completely unaware of this whilst shooting and noticed once I was looking through the images.
Despite being completely incidental, this image is striking with the fascinating effect created.
The first barrier I faced was deciding upon a way to make my work unclear in a way that didn't seem forced. I considered ideas such as covering the camera lens with Vaseline, or using cling film to distort to view, however, I felt this kind of approach would look false and unnatural. I needed to use a method that was fitting with the scene presented. In the end, I chose to work in a bathroom with warm running water to create steam that would fog up the camera lens.
I continued to use the Bowen for the shoot as I felt utilising the flash component would be interesting alongside the steamed up surroundings. The bathroom I was conducting this shoot in was very small making setting up the equipment a little tricky. Having already decided to have running water, I knew I couldn't have the Bowen or camera in the 'splash zone'. To elevate the potential for water damage to either piece of equipment, I positioned myself in the shower with the glass shower door across the bath edge. Opposite to this, I set the camera on a tripod with portrait orientation. As for the Bowen, I positioned this in the doorway, using the door to block the flash lighting flooding parts of the scene I didn't want to as fully light. I did try having the light closer to the scene but the shower door meant the Bowen was reflected in the glass, distracting from the image. As in Test Shoot Four, I continued to use the Bowen on the lowest flash setting as a higher setting would have produced too much light for the small, light coloured bathroom which
would have reflected the light from each wall and surface. As well as this I maintained the camera settings that I used in the previous test shoot as these were optimal for the previous set of images. ISO 400, f16 at 1/125 seconds was ideal for the conditions in Test Shoot Four, I failed to consider that in this shoot I was shooting in a brighter indoor location. Using these settings alongside the Bowen flash led to the images being blue toned, thus forcing them to not fit in with my other warmer toned photography. To reduce this cold blue hue I could have adapted the white balance setting used whilst capturing these images. I was still using the 'Incandescent' setting which was not the right setting for flash photography. 'Incandescent' refers to lower temperature
lighting like tungsten bulbs which are around 3200 K on the Kelvin scale, a scale used to determine the temperature of light. When using this setting with lighting conditions that are higher on the scale, the image will be captured with a blue tone. As I was using flash lighting, I would have been better using a white balance setting that better captured the higher temperature of flash which sits around 5000 K. My camera, the Nikon D7200, does have a 'Flash' which would have likely captured more accurate colours. An oversight on my part, I could retouch these images in Adobe Photoshop to emulate the effects of using the 'Flash' setting.entering your own content. You can change my font, size, line height, colour and more by highlighting part of me and selecting the options from the toolbar.
'Untitled (3 of4)'
I am not impressed with these images. I did not anticipate how much, nor how quickly, the camera lens would steam up in this environment. The images show how the lens steamed to such a degree that the subject is barely visible and any story-telling aspects within the image are completely lost. 'Untitled (3 of 4)' is, in my opinion, the most interesting of the images captured. The subject is facing straight on towards the camera, with her face angled down. Her eyes are visible through the steam and are looking into the camera lens intently. This image is a captivating, alternative response to the theme of voyeurism. Instead of
remaining oblivious to being watched, this character is fully aware and facing their surveyor head on. Perhaps she enjoys it, or maybe this in confrontational? Either way, the character does not seem afraid or shocked as, from what we can make out, her stance is strong and confident. It is such a shame that this image is as unclear as it is, I would have included this image in the series to incorporate an alternative slant to the series.
I am a little disappointed with the fact that the flash did not activate for any of these images. Submerged in darkness, all details are lost in frame as I was relying on the Bowen as my only source of light. I feel some of my strongest posing was showcased in this photoshoot and, unfortunately, I could not manage to recall the posing in future shoots. One of my favourite images from this shoot was 'Untitled (18 of 20)' (below, right). Although there is very little that is compelling about this photo, the way in which the water is captured is captivating. The water running down and along the subject's cheeks creates cartoon-like shading on the cheekbones. In order to capture the flowing nature of the water I used a different shutter speed to that of Test Shoot Five: 1/60 seconds. In order to maintain a similar type of lighting when captured I also changed the aperture to f29 so as to negate the excess light that would be captured by shooting with the shutter speed increased by a whole stop. Increasing the shutter speed by a stop doubles the amount of time that the shutter is open, hence the necessity to use a more narrow aperture to maintain the lighting conditions pictured. Using a lengthier shutter speed allowed be to capture the movement of the shower water alongside the stillness of the subject's body. Photographically this long exposure photograph looks developed and thought out; despite the blatant lack of light.
The contrast in movement between the water and the subject's face balances the scene and also provides a grounding sense to the image. By grounding this otherwise sexually adventurous character, the viewer can easily associate her being self-assured and stable.
I am going to conduct another shower-style shoot for this series. I will have to maneuver the equipment to ensure the infrared device can be interpreted by the Bowen as well as taking my time to check that any issues with my white balance, like those in Test Shoot Five, are resolved.
NOTE: In order to show an image that can be interpreted, I have increased the exposure of 'Untitled (18 of 20)' by 1.5 in Adobe Lightroom to ensure the points made regarding this work are clearly exampled by my imagery.
As I was having lighting issues I decided to change things for the upcoming shoot. I swapped the position of the camera and the subject to capture the light more easily with less worry of reflections in the glass shower door. Additionally, I chose to use the Bowen's bulb lighting function rather than the seemingly temperamental flash lighting due to the issues I was having with the infrared device. The bulb lighting was warmer toned and more fitting to the images I had taken in earlier shoots. As I was working with a glowing kind of lighting, I shot with the 'Incandescent' white balance setting and exposure settings that would capture a truthful scene: ISO 400, f16 at 1/8 seconds. I wanted to have sharp focus of both the foreground and the background so that I could manually blur the image by manipulating the focus ring on the lens. Using an aperture of f16 allowed me to achieve this. I felt that producing images that were technically ideal but specifically manipulated to look otherwise on the surface was powerful. I wanted to replicate the paradox of things being one thing on the surface and something different in actuality. Is this a badly captured image, or is it a well-crafted one with specific intent? I wanted viewers to consider both aspects.
Despite the image being unfocused, there is still an idea of depth with the water droplets being closer to the camera than the subject. It was important to maintain layers within my work to avoid flat looking imagery. The depth between the subject and the wall behind them is a little lost,
however. The colour of the wall and skin are very similar, particularly in images like 'Untitled (2 of 41)' where the subject has her back to the light source. The subject's shoulders blend in to the background, though not so much so that they become completely lost. I don't think this looks bad, photographically. In fact, I think the similarity in colours across the images makes them flattering due to their harmonisation. Also, not all of the images look this way. Images where she is positioned differently, like 'Untitled (1 of 41)' have clear definition between elements within the image.
In order to create the water droplets, I sprayed the glass shower door with water from a spray bottle. The water droplets add an interesting layer to the images, though in some circumstances there was a little too much. As the shoot progressed and the water droplets began to build up, I changed approach as the subject was barely visible. Instead of having the droplets captured as what they clearly are, I used the lighting alongside the droplets to capture a bokeh haze over the image. This bokeh is more artistic than the droplets themselves, and provides a sense of looking through rose-tinted glasses into a perfect, dreamy world. I adapted the aperture to achieve this bokeh finish. Using a greater aperture, and keeping the focal point in between the subject as the water droplets, I could create a snapshot with the bokeh foreground and out of focus background. There was already a small amount of bokeh in the images to begin with but I could create a greater amount by increasing the f-stop. The difference after making this change is very obvious looking through the contact sheet. The soft, out of focus nature of the bokeh technique helps form an aesthetic image. Typically used in portraits to soften harsh or bright objects, using the technique in these images accentuates the stereotypical delicate and subtle nature of women. All in all, using the bokeh technique facilitates the presentation of this female character in a way I haven't already done.
In regards to the posing, I had no specific poses in mind. Because I was using the WU-1a wireless adapter, I had the ability to operate the camera shutter from my mobile phone. I wanted to capture off-guard photos, something which is difficult to do when photographing yourself. To do this, I was fluid with my movement and pressed the shutter release at random points to increase the chance of off-guard imagery.
Some of my favourite images include 'Untitled (7 of 41)' (below, left), 'Untitled (25 of 41)' and 'Untitled (39 of 41)' (below, right). These images showcase the softness I was addressing, yet the character remains sexualised with her lips being slightly parted.
Introducing a male figure within this setup was difficult as there was very little space to maneuver in the bathroom itself. Shooting with a relatively tight frame of 50mm also meant positioning both bodies within the camera frame was tricky. Despite the difficulty, I wanted to shoot at 50mm as this is common practice for portrait photography. One of the most popular lenses used for portrait photography is a 50mm prime lens. I do not have a prime lens specifically so utilised a 50mm focal length on my Nikon 18-105mm f3.6-5.6 zoom lens. A prime lens is typical for portrait photos due to their performance and quality superiority compared to zoom lenses. Using a prime lens would have likely produced images that were sharper regardless of my specific out of focus image style. This is due to lens diffraction. Lens diffraction refers to the reduction in sharpness of images at smaller apertures, like f16. As you stop down to smaller apertures, finer details in photographs begin to blur. This is due to simple physics; small apertures cause light waves to spread out and interfere with one another. A greater f-stop number has a smaller opening in the lens for light to travel through, light waves experience a greater angle of diffraction when forced to travel through tight openings. A greater angle of diffraction creates less concentrated light waves causing image quality to decrease. I didn't need to worry too much about lens diffraction as I was wanting to capture out of focus images, though it is something worth recognising as the initial image quality will in turn affect the final photograph.
These images are slightly disappointing to look at, especially when considering the success of Test Shoot Seven which inspired them. The out of focus imagery is not appealing in this set due to there being more action between the subjects. The bokeh still remains an interesting element of the photo but there needs to be more attention brought to the subjects in order to divulge what they are doing. From what can be made out, their is a level of sexual tension between the pair as they look to be naked and are in close proximity to each other. 'Untitled (1 of 19)' shows the male positioned as though he was attempting to initiate a kiss. With this intimate act being in the balance tension arises and the mood of the image becomes more romantic and sexualised. The camera, for all of the images, is placed in such a way that it seems it hasn't been noticed by the pair. This is important as it provides a sense of the images being unfiltered, and that the characters' behavior hasn't been influenced under their surveillance.
These images could definitely use some improvement which is a shame because I predicted these to be the best images produced for the MoMA series. Regardless work from previous test shoots outshines these images and I may have to consider other images for the collection, or I'll have to make a second attempt of this shoot.
For this shoot, I was focused on producing a straightforward image to be used in the collection for MoMA. I didn't want to use artistic looking photographic practices, or intricate lighting. I wanted to provide a sense that what you are seeing is what you get, a scene that was caught up in the action rather than the photography specifically.
I continued shooting straight on with the Bowen bulb lighting positioned just above the camera producing a widespread flat light, nothing too fancy or specific. I shot using ISO 400, f10 at 1/2 second. These exposure settings, along with 'Incandescent' white balance, formed an image that honestly reflected the real-life lighting. I wanted to ensure that the depth of field and focus was precise for these images as I have already produced a lot of hazy, blurred kinds of images. Using a wider aperture of f10 allowed the whole frame to be focused with a large depth of field. Additionally, I utilised a shutter speed of 1/2 second to capture, in the beginning, crisp imagery that had scope to hold motion blur later in the shoot. 'Untitled (1 of 10)' through to 'Untitled (5 of 10)' show my experimentation with positioning. I wanted the most accurate scene that remained interesting to look at. For this I tried standing on my toes, progressively getting higher for each
shot. After five images, I felt it didn't make much of a difference because the images still looked like they were missing some action and intensity. The difficulty that I have found through this whole process was that of capturing raw and intense photos that translate sex acts and intimacy well into film stills. I started incorporating movement into the next five images and found them much more satisfactory, feeling that the energy of the scene had been captured.
I am happy with the way that I have captured these images. I think they are clear and concise. I am also glad that I chose to shoot an perspective I would ordinarily avoid. I enjoy shooting more traditional portraits with the face, less so feet and legs. I find that limbs can look very clumsy and unflattering. This is not the case in these images. The subjects' legs are placed with purpose and have strength about them. The way that the male's jeans and female's
underwear have been pulled down so haphazardly makes the scene seem rushed for time, as well as suggesting these characters are excited by one another.
Adding the motion blur really improved the imagery. With the movement captured there is no denying what the pair are doing, nor the intensity of it. I would like to see these images taken again with the lighting positioned more towards the left, behind the subjects to produce more intense shadows. That being said, doing so would create an image that is more photographically intriguing which, though may be
better to look at, would not be successful in capturing the 'straight to the point' kind of image I was looking to capture when brainstorming this photoshoot.
I persisted with the Bowen flash lighting after struggling in Test Shoot Four. Shooting against a white wall, I positioned the Bowen and camera perpendicular to each other with myself sat at the point of interception. This very simple setup created dynamic results. The Bowen was positioned 10cm above the top of my head and angled towards my temple. Being positioned to at a higher height, to one side meant my face would be side lit in such a way
that the natural areas of the face that pick up light would be highlighted while the rest of the light would gradually disperse.
I shot using ISO 400, f10 at 1/2 second. As with all my work, using an ISO of 400 meant the images remained crisp and grain-free. I would typically use a shutter speed of 1/125 seconds to fully sync up with the Bowen flash, however I found shooting at 1/2 second meant the shadows remained as dark as possible whilst capturing the flash of light in an interesting manner. Further to this, using an aperture of f10 allowed for a deep depth of field to capture focused and precise imagery.
Upon taking a test shot (above, left), to establish whether I was using the best settings, the flash lighting was brilliant white and overpowering. To address this, I place a pair of black, 10 denier tights over the flash hood to change the tone of light and diffuse its intensity. Doing this created a purple hue across the images and darkened the scene. Instead of capturing purer, brightly exposed images like the test shot, I produced dark and seedy exploits.
Some of my most exemplary work was captured in this test shoot. Images like 'Untitled (14 of 34)' and 'Untitled (15 of 34)' show studio-like location photography. The images are high quality and capture fine details such as skin texture with precision.
On the other hand, there are some examples of work that could use improvement. 'Untitled (23 of 34)' is such an interesting images, with the character's eye captured centrally along the upper third (in rule of thirds) with a captivating expression. Her eyes seem to hold so much power, both conceptually and also through their positioning. The issue with this work is that the focus is not as sharp as would be hoped for this kind of image. The slightly out of focus nature may have been fine should it have been intentional, but it wasn't. Comparing the image quality to that of 'Untitled (22 of 34)' is almost embarrassing considering the great change in precise skill shown.
As can be seen in the contact sheet, I experimented mainly with portrait oriented photography and also landscape. Ultimately, I came back to portrait orientation because, not only is it my preference, but the images suited it. The landscape oriented images are intriguing, however. They present a snapshot of emotion and feeling within a tightly cropped frame. Filling the frame with a rush of sensation creates a group of images that draw eyes and provokes question as to the characters sentiment.
What is she feeling? What is happening to make her feel that way? When presented alongside my other work it is slightly more obvious what is happening to provoke such an encapsulated response.