Body Landscape

Introduction

The challenge for this assignment is to capture photographs of the human body that appear abstract, s though they are a part of a landscape. From the research, I have found that the closer to a specific area of the body the more effective the image is. This is because the intricate shapes or details of a small area, such as finger or shoulder no longer appear like areas of the body when zoomed in, but curves from a landscape instead.

Artist Research

Lee Orchard

Lee Orchard is a photographer and IT lecturer in Shebbear. He shoots a range of styles of photography, including wildlife and portraiture. Portraiture is one of his most specialised areas where he partners with his wife, Natalie. His portraiture consists of maternity and sports, where some of his work can be seen as body landscape which I have used for this assignment as inspiration.

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His use of props is interesting in his body landscape work, as shown above. The rocks added to a simple curve of the body produces more pint of interest and stands out from other simpler examples. I think the part of the body that has to create this curve is an effective area to frame and leads the eye from one side to another along the curves line. He has also aligned the top part of the body on the upper horizontal line of the rule of thirds, creating a pleasing composition to the viewer’s eye.

Carl Warner

Carl Warner is an artist and photographer, famous for his abstract landscapes. He first created a landscape from food and after taking more images of unusual landscapes from food and parts of the body he became acknowledged for his unique and creative work. His philosophy is to be different and take the challenge to produce something new and different from the rest of the art and photographs in the industry.

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He has taken the shapes and textures from parts of the body and created a photo manipulation of a landscape. I think the large variety of sections of the body used for one image has been effective and with the sky produced an illusion of a landscape. Most often I find black and white images for this style of photography, however, Warner has used colour which compliments his image. He has taken the colour of the skin to his advantage and created a landscape that suits the tonal range.

Creating Ideas

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I produced rough sketches to create more of an idea of the setup. I labeled the diagrams to show the basic ideas of lighting and setup. These images are only simple and could be improved by creating more designs that have more detail. Drawing rough ideas helps me with ideas and planning the production. I will produce more ideas for future production so that I have a selection of ideas. A storyboard format could have been benefited to layout a more organised and detailed set of ideas.

I have undertaken test shots using a mannequin in order to create a better understanding of what parts of the body create interesting effects. I did this before the shoot shown in figure 3. This improved the shoot as it made me focus on the back and ribs of the model. I would have been less likely to focus on these areas without this initial test. I will ensure that I conduct more tests similar to this for future products to better understand the task that I will carry out and find the most effective techniques.

My Work

Figure 1

Description

For the first body landscape shoot, I used the time in the studio to my advantage. I asked two members of the class if I could take images of their hands and wrists. This was done using a tripod so that I could set the shutter to 1/40 without concerns over camera shake. I used tungsten light as I felt it gave me more control over the lighting.

Emotional Response

I found that at first, I was not achieving the images that I had in mind. The lighting did not create interesting shadows or highlights and it was too clear I was photographing hands. I was unsure of how to solve this issue, becoming concerned and regretted not having more detailed plans. I had researched examples of body landscape but did not expect to capture my own during this time.

I then began to move closer to the hands and repositioned the light. I found this improved the overall result and began to experiment with the light further. I became more pleased with the results as the lighting when placed behind the subject produced harsh shadows that had created some interesting effects.

I still do not feel as though the images are to a high enough standard to use for any rival submissions but am satisfied for the first try. I will attempt further shoots with more focus on the lighting and interesting features of the body that could be used.

Evaluation

I think a positive from the experience is that I began to understand what areas I needed to focus on in order to achieve better results. I was able to see an improvement when I moved the light and directed it at different parts of the hands. I also found improvements when I went closer to the hand.

I think I still need to crop the images more and will have to focus on the specific part of the body and what shape I intend it to form in the final image, for example, the fingers are noticeable in many of the images and the picture of an arm clearly shows the hairs that make it too identifiable. I need to make the pictures more abstract and create a different perspective upon the final outcome.

Analysis

I think the lack of planning for the technique and overall outcome hindered the shoot. I need to collect more information on the best lighting setups and what I want from the images. More research into successful examples of this will aid in achieving the images that I want. More experimentation with different lights and the amount used will enable me to gather more of an understanding about the effects it can create of parts of the body.

Figure 2

Description

This was a small experiment at home using a phone torch for the light source. I focused on feet where I moved the light around to view the different effects it had and shapes it formed. I used my Canon 60, Macro lens to capture more detail and used an aperture of f2.8 to allow more light into the lens and focus on certain areas of the image, using a shallow depth of field to blur the background.

Emotional Response

I found the process challenging because I did not have much space to work in or anyone to assist me. It would have been easier if someone could have held the phone and move the light around. This was only a small test shoot to understand lighting better, however, I still do not feel confident enough with what setups I could use, therefore need to do further research.

I began to feel frustrated because I could achieve the image that portrayed a landscape. This made me want to stop the shoot and reevaluate what I was doing wrong. I feel that I need to spend more time on this and prepare an easier working environment.

Evaluation

The images are still too identifiable, it is clear that they belong to parts of the body. The lighting will still have to be improved in order to create effects that make the body appear like landscapes. I have exposed too much of the body, instead, I need to create more shadows to create a low lit mountain or hill type of effect.

I also need to crop more of the images. Focus on small details of the body, such as bones or curve will make it less noticeable to be a part of the body. The image of the fingers shows most of the finger, whereas a wrinkle in one of the fingers may appear as a hill or valley type of effect.

Analysis

The setup made it difficult to achieve desired effects or experiment properly with the lighting. I should have used the studio at University, which facilitates tungsten lights and a working area for the subject to be placed. Using minimal space for a project that I am finding more challenging made a difficult working environment.

During this process, I did not take enough images. This hindered to experiment as it did not provide me with enough choice to understand what technique worked better than others. I should have spent longer on the process and took a larger range of images that varied in style.

Figure 3

Description

This project took a different direction from the others because this time I did not know who the model was. They agreed to be a part of my shoot and came from the art department in University. I used the studio with one tungsten light. I set the aperture to f2.8 on my macro lens with a shutter no less than 1/40 to reduce the chance of motion blur.

Emotional Response

This shoot came to a surprise as it was a spontaneous decision in the studio. I was first discussing to a member of staff that I would like more opportunities to photograph models because people I had already asked were often busy or tired of modeling. They then went to the art section of the university and brought back a male student who had agreed to model.

This was an interesting experience because I did not have any knowledge who the person was, making a useful challenge to communicate and provide direction. I photographed their back and rips and did not find any issues with speaking to them.

The concern I had was that they did not have a long time slot and due to being unaware that I would be conducting this shoot I was unprepared. I found t challenging to think of what type of shot I wanted under a very short time constraint and would have benefited from a plan.

Evaluation

I found that I photographed closer to the body which improved th081e final results. However, I still need to focus on some cropping and the amount of the body I show in the image. For example, the image on the right has little background and more of the body. I think I should re-edit this image change the ratio so that the amount of the body shown is reduced.

I worked more creatively with the lighting, creating harsh shadows that work more effectively than the previous shoots. More work still needs to be made on the framing and lighting, therefore I will conduct further experiments.

A negative in two of the images is the tattoo that is shown in the frame. I was testing to see if it created an unusual appearance but found that it was too clear and took more attention away from a landscape effect and made the body more noticeable.

Analysis

The time constraint hindered the shooting process. I found out that I only had 10 minutes with the model which put pressure on the shoot and made it difficult to experiment with different shots. I would have liked to capture a larger variety of images and test with the lighting further. For the next shoot I will make sure that enough time is provided so that I can take time on setting up the desired composition and not rush the process.

Preparation would have also been benefited, especially with the short time limit. I was unaware that I would be conducting this hot, making me unprepared for the situation. It gave me valuable experience with improvisation, quick thinking and dealing with pressure but I would prefer to have a detailed plan for the next shoot.

 Re-edited

Figure 4

I felt that I needed to focus on the way I edit images. I think that I could improve cropping choices, therefore have decided to re-edit some images that I have previously taken. I found this to be interesting as it allowed me to rethink the way I was composing the images and think about the effect it ad. I think the time away from the images have improved the overall outlook I have, compared to when I first take the images and soon after editing them. I received feedback that I should crop into smaller sections of images to focus on certain areas and make it appear less like a human body. Further feedback was to provide more background space at the top of the images to make the subject align more with the horizontal lines in the rule of thirds.

I agreed with this feedback and experimented with the advice. I even found some images that I had ignored the first time editing, therefore not including them. I found these images to be interesting and pleased that I relooked at older images to find ones that I had missed, these images can be found as the first three pictures in figure 4.

The fourth image in figure 4 had less background in the top third, therefore I included more to then make the subject meet the bottom and top horizontal lines. I think the composition is an improvement from the previous image. I then did not the same with the last two images and also cropped into them further. This has made the images more effective and abstract. I think I still could improve the composition and image quality for body landscape but this experiment has improved the way I compose images.

Figure 5

Description

The University studio was used with a black backdrop and tungsten light. Low key lighting was used in order create harsh shadows that I could try to create into shapes that resemble landscapes. A tripod was used so that I could minimize camera shake, especially as I was using a slower shutter of 1/40. The ISO was 400 to compensate for the low light and the aperture was set to f2.8 on my macro lens to create a shallow depth of field and allow more light to enter the lens.

Emotional Response

From the start of this project I was optimistic and thought that it would be enjoyable to create a body landscape. However the more I tried to create an effective piece the more I became frustrated. I continued to experiment but could not create the desired effect. This was displeasing and made the experience less enjoyable.

It was a challenge to work with the lighting to create the correct balance of light and shadows for the outcome that I wanted. I found it difficult to create something striking and felt unsatisfied with the results. I could not decide what exactly I wanted the from final image, making it different to create an effective image. I could create a clear design of an image that I thought would be effective and meeting the criteria. This made it more challenging and resulted in focusing less on this project and more on others.

Evaluation

I think overall the images show improvement from the first experience that I conducted. I have begun to focus on smaller details and create shapes with the body. I was able to experiment further with the lighting and what effects it can create with the hands and arms.

However, the results are still not effective enough for final selections for submission. Due to time constraints with the deadline approaching, I will have to decide on the final images from the shoots that I have already conducted. Although for future projects I will ensure that I allow enough time for planning and issues arising that with more practice and time can be solved.

The images do not have a close enough resemblance to landscapes, which does not meet the criteria as successfully as desired. I have not produced strong images that clearly show landscaped in a creative style. Some images still show the boy too clearly, such as the last image in figure 5 of the thorns on the arms. I was trying to use props, similarly to Lee Orchard, however, it did not achieve the outcome that I wanted. It was too obvious that it was an arm, whereas I should have created a more abstract effect that still resembled a form of a landscape.

Analysis

Due to this project becoming a challenge and being unable to create an effective outcome I should have spent more time focusing on what I wanted and the shoot itself. I spent more time on other projects that I found more enjoyable, which affected the quality of work on this, assignment. I should have spent equal time or dedicated more time to ones that I struggled with the most.

One of the main issues that hindered the project was the lack of planning. I should have created detailed plans and storyboards of compositions that I wanted. This would have made the shooting process faster and made it easier to capture an effective image. For future projects, I will ensure that I undertake test shoots to understand lighting and the compositions that work better than others. From this, I can produce more detailed plans of each shot which will improve the overall production process and the final result.

I need to take more time to research ideas in order to have inspiration for my own work. I could not decide on what I wanted for the images which made it increasingly difficult to plan any shots and produce any successful images. With detailed research, I can discover what setups and techniques work well that can be applied to my work.

Overall Conclusion

Overall I do not think this style of photography was as successful as others that I have conducted. I had originally expected this to be something that I would enjoy but soon realised that I had underestimated the difficulty in creating an impacting body landscape. I have come to realise how much I needed to plan for this project. Especially as it was more of a challenge to create ideas I should have spent much more time in developing ideas and testing with compositions and lighting. I think I focused too much on hands and should have photographed other parts of the body too.

This project has enabled me to think about compositions and effects that can be created with shapes and lighting in a different way that I have previously thought. It has allowed me to think more creatively and be abstract in my pictures. I think this task is a good opportunity to become more artistic in the way to compose subjects to create something unusual.

This has also been a valuable opportunity to become more comfortable with communicating with models. I have become more confident and feel that I have improved the way I communicate and direct with the models through the project. I have learned that the key to directing the models successfully is to ensure that I have a detailed plan to follow and show them so that they also understand what I want from the shoot.

Final Selection

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Figure 6

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Figure 7

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Figure 8

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Figure 9

I have selected images that have portrayed shapes that can be resembled as landscaped and pictures that have focused on small areas of detail, for example in figure 6 the image has been chosen for one of the final selections because I thought it focused on the most detail that could resemble cracked earth. It also presented more of the body, compared to most of the images that had only slight highlights that only produced shapes and lines instead of detail. 

Where I had less detail I tried to produce shaped of hills, such as in figure 9. For this image I experimented with the depth of field, making the foreground blurred and focusing on the background. Not much light is presented, created rim lights that create curved lines which could be identified as hills. I think these images have some resemblance to landscapes but understand that this has been a challenge and more effective outcomes could have been produced.

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