The photographer that I have chosen to use to see what thoughts their work provokes in my head is Nick Knight.
One of the big things that stands out in my head about Nick Knight’s work is ‘Surreal’.
sur·re·al (s-rl)adj.1. Having qualities attributed to or associated with surrealism2. Having an oddly dreamlike quality.
I’ve never taken any surreal looking photographs myself but they are always ones that catch my eye. I decided to pursue this a little further and in researching photographers that compose surreal photographs I came across Rachael Koscica and Hugh Kretschmer who both had different themes within their images.
Kretschmer had a lot of images where the theme seemed to be employment and business like in these two images:
Here is a moodboard containing the theme ‘Surreal’:
1. During my research someone whose work caught my eye and really interested me was Pelle Cass. He uses a technique which is basically like a still frame time lapse photograph. He collects lots of images from the exact same spot and then compiles them together to make the images look very hectic and full of life with plenty of action to pick out to see what is going on in them. I want to have a go at recreating a similar style of photograph using vehicles instead of living things.
I want to give the impression that the area is fully packed with vehicles but also use a motion blur effect to give the impression that some of them are moving even if it looks like they are stuck in a traffic jam.
2. A theme that was very popular among the surreal images that I included in my moodboard was the idea of removing limbs or body parts to elsewhere within the image or replacing body parts with a different object / item.
Here is my storyboard for the photos that I wish to take:
For image 1 on the storyboard the squares with stars in represent vehicles and the surrealistic congestion (roughly) that I plan to try and capture within my image.
For image 2 it shows a kitchen working serving up what appears to be his own arm which I’m hoping I can create this image well to keep with the surreal theme. It could also be linked to the idea of ‘Do you know what is actually in your food’ related to the recent horse meat burger scandal.
Here is the photos that I shot:
This was my original idea that I had come up with of the fryer cooking up his own body parts. I removed the head to try and make it look a bit more surreal and to give the impression that he was cooking up his limbs one at a time. The next limb being the forearm which we can see within the image.
When I had put the image together I wasn’t too happy with how it looked and didn’t think it looked ‘dreamlike’ enough so I put the background onto a new layer (everything but the fryer) and made it a bit more contrasty by using the ‘Surrealistic’ setting in the HDR dialogue box.
I still wasn’t particularly happy with it so to make the image even more dream like I added a different background, which was one I had shot a couple of days before in HDR bracketing mode of a moorside and it had very vivid colours and looked a bit like a dream world.
I took the fryer and the worker and added them to the new image and left the background here and then added the menu into the moorside by cutting out bits of the shrubbery and adding them to a layer in front of the menu to make it look like it was wedged amongst the plants. Here is the result:
My next image was to be a crossroad section of a street and I planned to take a picture of the street looking as empty as I could (directly below) and using photoshop add lots of activity into the image including vehicles and pedestrians to make it look like a very cluttered image that realistically wouldn’t look how I planned to make it. Beneath is the original Panorama of the sheet that I shot, to which I would add all the activity.
I then shot all the activity in their own individual images and added them to the above scene after a stressful removal of the sign taking up a big chunk of the scene. (No angle would have meant I wouldn’t have had to perform this).
I went to shoot the images on one day and accidentally cocked up the panorama shot that I was trying to get of the crossroad. On this day it was raining and so I got all the images of the pedestrians etc then and came back the following day to re shoot the panoramic shot.
I was rather fortunate in this however because it now appears as though all the pedestrians are wearing waterproof clothing and using umbrellas, as well as the cyclists, on a day which actually looks like there wasn’t a single drop of rain, which adds to the ‘dreamlike’ surreal aspect of the image. So a bit of look that I accidentally found!
I also used a black paint brush tool with the opacity set to 20% to add in shadows to the image so that it didn’t look like the people and cars were floating. This has slightly helped to flatten the image and make it look a bit less ‘Shopped. The gold car (centre left) was stationary when I shot it, which meant that the sharpness of this particular car is rather clear, which I actually think has worked well because it adds that little bit of foreground focus that I think the image would look very different without.
Overall I am happy with the panoramic image, but my first image was a little bit of a let down and I couldn’t really get the desired effect that I was looking for. However this is a learning curve and so the next time I want to shoot a surreal image I will know what to expect and how to achieve what I am after and will have learnt from this mistake. I am very satisfied with the crossroad image though and think that it works very well.