The aim of this project was to capture the atmposphere of place, however the brief specification was broadened to include room for experimentation and exploration with personal taste. My first ideas invloved capturing the atmosphere of the landscape, with the different weather conditions and changing seasons. However, the project was set late on in the year with a deadline in May. So although I could have captured some seasonal changes within that time frame. I decided to experiment with long shutter speeds that didn’t require particularly good weather conditions or daylight.
For my first location I randomly went with an idea of visiting a weather damaged shed that I pass regularly, which appeared an ideal place, with the potential to provide an atmospheric theme. I used my Canon Speedlite mounted on my camera and adjusted the settings until I reached the desired dramatic effect with bounce flash. The flash surrounded the building and gave a vignette , which to me, resembled a torch lit, American style horror appearance. So upon further thought and evaluation, I decided that this would be my project theme and named it ‘Alone In The Dark’.
Shoot 1: Shed (23/11/15)
Shoot 2: Spring Water Park, daytime. (20/12/15)
To continue with my theme, I sought out woodland area’s with interesting scenery. Continuing with the intention of remaining with using bounce flash. Due to the extremely wet weather conditions on both scheduled visits to Rivington Pike. Additionally, limited time and working in the dark, this location was not fully explored and requires a revisit. However, the images produced here do have an atmospheric feel, although I found the location to have more of a castle/dungeon aesthetic which appeared to be moving away from my identified theme.
Shoot 3: Rivington Pike (09/01/16)
To vary my locations, I decided to explore wooded areas closer to home. I tended to have a good look around the area in the daylight to gain my bearings and then ruturned after dark to compose the shoot. My chosen location was Brockholes Nature Reserve.
Shoot 4: Brockholes Nature Reserve, daytime. (14/01/16)
Shoot 5: Brockholes Nature Reserve, night-time. (22/01/16)
After experimenting with flash I was drawn to experiment with my photography skills further and introuduce torch light in replacement of flash, requiring longer exposures.
The image Fig.4 was taken using just torchlight and proved very successful with an exremely creepy, eerie atmosphere due to the combination of scene and lighting. The large pit found in the middle of the forest proved a very interesting setting. My only disappointment was due to the torch being less powerful than the flash, the surrounding forrest was lost a little. However upon review of this particular image, I find the torchlight added to the sense of atmosphere and really did meet with the naming of my project being alone in the dark. I also decided to experiment with the use of incorporationg strobeography and I was particulary drawn to self portrait to push my camera skills even further, whilst introducing a personal element, by using my cameras remote to capture myself within the scene.
Shoot 6: Spring Water Park (14/02/16)
Shoot 7: Spring Water Park (06/03/16)
I also made use of other materials such as, dolls heads on string and fire. During my daytime exploration of the local woods I came across a cabin which was partly a ruin and overgrown with trees. I went with the idea of filling the cabin with the glow from a fire as though there were someone present and positioning the dolls heads in the foreground as the main subject. This shoot didn’t exactly go to plan as the fire lighting materials only lasted for a short space of time, allowing only limited time to capture the image with the fire in the background. The lack of ability to create a fire led me to continue to experiment with more self portraits. I aimed to present myself as being alone in the woods with an element of fear with no way out. Upon researching the work of Matt Savage and in particular his work in forest settings covered in leaves I decided I would try some empty vessel shots lay on the ground.
I am happy with the shoot in general and this experimentation made me realise the exact nature of image that I needed to capture to complete the project. That being one of a lost girl alone in the darkness, with a twisted element of the supernatural. Although these images have not been used in my final set, I still find this to have been a very atmospheric shoot.
Upon review of this set of images by photographer Matthew Savage, merit was given to the empty vessel approach but he advised to distance the camera further away from the subject to produce a wider shot, incorporating more of the landscape. I chose to follow this advice in further images throughout the shoot, in particular the final fig. 11 in my final image section. He also suggested to research the work of Elizabeth Gadd for inspiration.
The predominant feature of Elizabeth’s work Matt advised me to investigate was her framing and composition to reduce the size of the model in frame to enhance the surrounding landscape. With this taken on board I incorporated this technique into the rest of my shoot.
This set of images proved to be the most sucessful shoots of the project, this is because I made use of advice and taken inspiration from several other photographers and by this point in the project, I was used to working in pitch dark conditions. Also due to the well developed vision I now had for the images, correctly executing them became easier.
Although it required one final revisit to correctly capture one image which was slightly out of focus (fig. 1).
Shoot 8: Spring Water Park (30/04/16)
Inspired by Maria Falconer due to being exposed to her work on numerous workshops, I decided to incorporate some of her themes and techniques. I took particular inspiration from ‘Keep Her Unnoticed’ a piece about domestic violence and ‘Body Zero’ which is about media pressure for zero size models.
I like the use of flash fill and in particular the double exposure or stroboscopic flash technique, that creates multiple subjects within the scene. I intend to experiment with this technique to try to incorporate into my final images.
Of all Maria’s work I found particular interest and inspiration from the image of her in a dustbin bag and found it rather fitting for my project, due to its dark and spooky theme.
Shoot 9: Spring Water Park (02/05/16)
Combining techniques from the work of all three artist’s, I decided to attempt one final image whilst re-visiting the stroboscopic image of the running girl but also deciding to re-take the pit stroboscopic image. This was due to a slight lack of focus in both images, due to the difficulty of achieving correct focus in pitch black conditions. Correct focussing was achieved in the running girl image by using my car headlights to pre-focus then switching them off for the image. The images at the pit were more difficult to achieve as only torch light was available for focussing but this re-visit achieved a very satisfactory image.
I continued with the use of my Canon Speedlite for the stroboscopic element. Flash power was varied from 1/16 to 1/4 and from 50mm to 105mm zoom dependant on the correct exposure of the model and how far into the scene distance wise was required. Multi-flash was varied between 3-4 flashes at 1 Hz. Also by reducing the aperture to sharpen the whole scene, this required an increase in flash power to correctly expose the scene in compensation.
Upon evaluation of my final ten images I have found that I have fulfilled the brief but with a creative and gritty edge to my execution of it. I am pleased with the evolutionary nature of the project, the way things fell into place and emerged from research resources and other influences. All of the final image have been composed in three different locations, whilst still holding a cumulative singular atmosphere as if taken in one place. I believe the black and white to add to the drama and also helps bring out contrast in the surrounding area, like in the leaves, rocks and tree’s. I also believe it adds to the atmospheric nature of the project and highlights the fact the shoots have taken place at night, under flash and torch light. I have used a higher ISO, to introduce a small amount of grain which, I believe, also adds to the sense of drama and the effect of found, horror movie footage.
ELIZABETH GADD, (2016). Elizabeth Gadd Photography. [Online] Available from: http://www.elizabethgadd.com/ [Accessed: 03 May 2016]
FLICKR, (2016). Matthew Savage Photography. [Online] Available from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/msavagephotography/ [Accessed: 03 May 2016]
MARIA FALCONER, (2016). Maria Falconer Photography. [Online] Available from: http://www.mariafalconer.co.uk/ [Accessed: 03 May 2016]
MATTHEW SAVAGE, (2016) Photography by Matt Savage: Portraits. [Online] Available from: http://www.matthewsavagephotography.co.uk/SelfPortrait.php [Accessed: 03 May 2016]