I wanted to take some time to describe my project in detail for the Emerge show Significant Digits, I'll start with my artist statement for the piece:
In this series I represent the show theme of “Significant Digits” by repetition of the number 4. The series contains 4 images; each image represents one of the 4 main elements from ancient Asian culture. On a purely technical level in photography, I shot most of the images using the “sunny 16” rule, which is a quick and tested exposer method regarding shooting on bright, sunny days or in this case, night time moon exposers. The moon plays a major visual element in all of the images but has no overall bearing on the theme of the number 4, but does connect to a deep seeded root in ancient cultures and believes. The image of the moon is more present to promote a deeper sense of the fantastic, combined with the image of the faerie character; it roots itself in an instant mythos.
I approached the images from the narrative perspective of an anthology. Each image stands on it’s own as an individual story, like a cover to a novel or movie case, yet are also a chronological chain of events. When I envisioned the project I felt the best possible type of story to tell was that of an awakening, exploration, trial and transformation. Perhaps this is simply the middle of the overall story, the beginning and end are left open as to why the character awakens in this place and where the character goes in the end. I think of it like reading the middle volumes of an ancient myth, or seeing parts 2 to 6 in a long movie series without watching part 1 or 7.
On a technical level the images are completely constructed of photographs physical objects and effects. They are composited digitally, but every object actually existed and was shot under lighting that simulates the natural elements. In my opinion this adds an extra level of realism to a very surreal landscape.
That's the concept of the project, and this was the result:
Terra - 12x18 - Photographic Composite Archival Print - 2014
Ignis - 12x18 - Photographic Composite Archival Print - 2014
Are - 12x18 - Photographic Composite Archival Print - 2014
So how did I make all of this stuff? Well, I wanted to make sure everything was a mostly practical effect, meaning every object and effect is photographed in reality. I made sure the lighting was consistently positioned and exposed for each object and the model. I shot the objects with white light and then shifted the colour temperature, vibrance and hue till I got the desired colour. When I shot the model, Kayleigh Saad, I actually used colour filters to match the objects in the landscape. Then I combined the elements in Photoshop. The landscapes, model shoot and compositing took about three months in total to complete.
I first started with some mock ups of the images, so I had an idea of what I wanted to capture for the landscapes.
Here's some examples of the landscape "photographic plates" I shot for each image. Keep in mind I shot close to 30 images of each effect, some of the images might not be the exact images I used in the final images.
This was the the enhanced image of the Moon I used, it was somewhat soft due to the lens I shot it with, so I sharpened it and increased the contrast.
For Somnum, I shot a couple images of an underlit piece of ice left over from a previous Emerge project. I shot it under different lighting conditions to map the light and dark areas.
For Terra, I shot this quartz crystal I have from 4 different positions, underlit, to create the towering rock forms.
I used this cracked ground image in both Terra and Ignis. It was made by using Golden brand Crackle Gel spread over a piece of clear acrylic plastic. Once it dried and cracked, I underlit it to give it the glow.
To create the "lava" in Ignis, I created a simple science experiment and made a home made volcano. I drilled holes in the side of the tube to make the gushing holes and shot it in a slightly lower shutter speed to capture movement. It erupted over the same underlit piece of acrylic that the ground plate was made on.
Aer was created using many shots of plumes from a smoke machine shot against a black backdrop and a vortex backdrop I made using Golden brand Glass Bead Gel.
The "space" backdrop in most of the images was taken from another image I did of paint and ink stains on a black sheet made used in another project.
I used my main overhead flash to represent the light from the moon in the images. I tried to match the position of the light relative to the moon in the final image.
I would take all these elements and combine and blend them in layers in Photoshop. Here's and example of some of the layers from the image Somnum.
That's the basics of the images, of course without Kayleigh's costumed performance that project would not have it's full presence. Here are the unedited versions of her images used in the pieces.
And there you have it folks, a basic run down of the images from beginning to end. Thank you for looking and reading.
- Larry M. Holder