In researching the work of Leo Acker and other commercial photographers such as Adrian Muller I was interested to compare the lighting used with that of the test shots. Most are very well lit as was Paula’s set, however, I was planning on something very different for my still life. After feeling very comfortable technically with a variety of test shots in the studio, I wanted to use the lights from laptops to illuminate the set.
It was important for me to grow and challenge myself this term both in technical terms but also for my shots to say something. In my still life, the current political climate and information wars held over multiple continents was my theme. To challenge myself further, I would not be using studio lighting, instead opting for the light emitted from laptops to illuminate the set. This poses numerous challenges as I would need to shoot at below 1/60sec for to capture light from the screen (refresh rates are normally 60 Hz), which means camera shake needed to be controlled. The shoot was going to need tripod and shooting cable. Additionally, I wanted to use a wide angle zoom lens (Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF ED), which was to ensure I could frame more accurately and have the flexibility to grab the scene as I wanted. f 3.5 is not super fast, which was going to mean shooting well below 1/50sec.
Louise and Holly really helped with the shoot, as it took far longer to setup and get the shot than anticipated. Holly was particularly mindful of health and safety, given the number of extension cables and electrical items in the set. We were all very vigilant in this area….I did experiment with studio lighting in the shoot, but the atmosphere and overall effect were just lost. The final image I was much happier with, which was taken at 1/15sec, f/11 (wanted a relatively deep depth of field), fully lit by the computers in the set.
Technically, I was really pushed in this shot, touching on long exposure photography in the studio and running out of time! The final result was pleasing with some editing in camera raw, to adjust exposure just slightly. A wide angle zoom really helped with the framing of the set and colour balance was set correctly this time. The surface appearance of the metal in the hard drive I wanted muted and Light: Science and Magic has an entire chapter dedicated to metal in surface appearance. The draped flags going from dark lighting into dark edges of the image I feel has worked well.
My modern take on still life is really a reflection of what I see as happening in the world today and a nod to the Dutch Masters use of semiotics in still life, as they inspired me to think symbolically of our geopolitical climate. Im pleased that I was able to shoot what I envisaged and say something. Its definitely not to everyones taste, but last term struggled to say anything in the medium. Vincent Borrelli cropped up in one area of my research and was so impressed with how he communicates in his images. I don’t think this image leaves room for doubt as to what its communicating.
Langford, M ‘Langford’s Advanced Photography’ (7th Ed., Focal Press, 2008)
Hunter, F., Biver, S., Fuqua, P. ‘Light: Science and Magic’ (5th Ed., Focal Press, 2015)