1st Shoot

by swhoneyman

Having had sometime to experiment and play around with techniques and processes I wanted to pool these together and take them into places from my childhood. However I wanted to continue the experimentalness of the previous images.

To start I went and found a tree that I used to climb. I found this memory would be something that many could relate to, especially males. I have many memories of climbing trees and as such the memories of which trees rather than the actual climbs or descents are most strong in my mind. Therefore I wanted the tree to be prominent in the photo whilst the background was blurred. I liked the stark contrast between the solidness of the tree and the blurriness of the background. This was added to by the quite harsh light that the tree was lit in.


Next I went to an area I had quite vivid memories of as a child. We had gone to go sledging and a friend had run down a small bank, just behind the foliage shown. He jumped down without realising that it was a bog and got stuck half way up his chest. However this was very personal and so rather than capturing the bog I decided to capture the foliage as it looked like the type of area that as a child you would make a den in and so was more universal than my very personal memory.


Following on from this I wanted to explore more of an abstract look to the photo’s.¬†Inspired by the work of Gerhard Richter I wanted to try and get a sweeping motion as if the image had been painted. I thought this would give quite an extreme distortion similar to memories that we struggle to remember. The vague detail is there but the finer detail is not really visible.

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Out of the two I prefer the second. The movements look less forced, there is more detail and the leaves in the foreground being lit and thus in focus due to the flash.



Next I decided to experiment with colour/saturation of the images. I took a photograph of an old deflated football. The fact the football was old worked better than had I used a new football.

For the first image I used a single flash to illuminate the football before sweeping up towards the sky. This created a image that looks almost like it had been washed out/faded. Again which linked into memory. However I wanted to see how the image would feel if I made it very highly saturated and vibrant whilst playing with the colours. I liked the really strong bright blue which looked exactly like it had been washed with a blue paint. Using highly saturated, non realistic colours gave the image a sense of it being a painting. I liked the painterly feel and wanted to continue to explore this.


Next I decided to use a more ‘real’ to life image of the same ball and this time keep the colours more realistic whilst making them highly saturated. When thinking back on memories I often find the colours to not be true to life so I wanted to portray the sometimes distorted colours. This reminded me of Lomography photography, I liked the flexibility that digital had.


As I was shooting experimentally there was a serendipity to the outcomes of my photos. I wanted to experiment still with the process, both in taking the original image and editing. For the below image I again tried a bit of intentional camera movement. I liked how there was a solid horizon line that formed whilst still having a distorted and painterly feel. I also liked the small details that you can pick out, such as the faint essence of a tree in the foreground and the stronger full tree in the back.


Having looked at Dirty Harry’s quite harsh use of flash meant that things in the foreground were solid whilst the background was blurred. I liked this effect as it gave the sense that if you put something memorable in the foreground the background would have a softness and a blurriness somewhat like how memory works.


The next few I really wanted to push the idea of the painterly abstract view on memory. I chose to do this as I find that some memories are so much of a blur that you can’t pick out any real detail.


I found that the out of these three the stronger contrast ones worked better as you were able to get more of a sense of what the image was on.


I preferred the image above as the smaller movement meant that you can still see the outline of the trees. Where as the image below you are unable to tell what is in it as much.


Next I decided to play with colour again. I had enjoyed the over saturated, colourful experiments earlier in my project and so I decided to try this again. With the image below I wanted to do an almost monochromatic block colour effect. I liked how the background lost near enough all detail and was almost a block of colour.


The next couple I wanted to push the colours even more so that they became even more distant from reality almost dream like.


A key part of growing up, especially as a young lad is sport. Therefore I went to the local football goal. This, to me, is as much of a ‘universal childhood’ memory as you can get. I wanted to try and get the block colour effect that Chris Friel achieved in his work.


I found that a straight down movement kept the structure of the goal posts better than an upward movement. As well the image above looked more ghostly. Meanwhile I liked the darkness of the woods in the background as it has almost a sinister feel to it. This worked well for me due to the fact I used to be afraid of going in the woods therefore it depicts the emotions that I used to feel. I think that this image could be improved by increasing the saturation/vibrance a bit to create a more playful image.


I had seen a documentary of Gerhard Richter showing his process and how he created his painting and I liked his long strokes with the squeegee. Therefore using the movement of the camera again I wanted to create a similar effect to this.


Again I found that the image with the higher contrast (below) worked better. Although the shutter speed was at 1/8th for both the image below to me works better. I think this is also partly due to the movement of the camera being slower. I liked how in both the light yellow of the daffodils meant that they came through strongly but also faded off in the direction of the movement.


I found that when using the flash you were able to get a double exposure esque effect where the darker areas on the ‘second’ exposure showed the detail from when the flash went off whilst the lighter areas captured more detail from after the flash. This created an interesting mix of washed out, unclear areas of the image with detailed areas. Again similar to memory.


I had noticed that due to shooting during the day the light was quite strong and so it would often lead to overexposed areas which were just white. This meant that I was able to get quite a bit of negative space. Again playing to the concept of blank areas in memory.


I found that although I liked the textures on the image above the image below had come out better. I found that the softness to the trees as well as the texture that came out had an aesthetic of remembering. Therefore I decided to mute the colours a bit to further support this idea.


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With the above two images I liked the abstractness of them. In the first one especially you get no detail of what the image is actually of. It looks like a painting of a mountain almost. I liked how it enabled the viewer to place their own perceptions into the image and make of it as they wished. To me it has a subtle elegance through the movements and brush like strokes that are created. It reminded me almost of a Turner painting with the long smooth brush strokes.



For the final image of this shoot I wanted to combine the small almost circular movement of the camera with the extreme vibrant colours of before. I liked how the over exposed blown out background meant that the trees were almost stripped back to their bare minimums. I also enjoyed how the lack of detail made it more universal and again the viewer is able to implement their own memories and experiences.