All the World is Staged (Part 2)

After a successful photoshoot I was really excited to go through our images and we were very pleased to say the least! Everything that we had to consider ended up looking really good and I feel like our influences shone though in our images.

Firstly, however, lets talk about the things that didn’t work. Having the privilege of going on to the rooftop was a nice experience but the images that we took did not create the effect we wanted. There was too much natural light and there were not many props up there that we could work with to achieve the Film Noir narrative in our photographs. We tried using the portable studio light but it didn’t make any difference. We did experience some problems with the studio light being temperamental in the lobby area as well which meant that accosionally we had to try and use natural light. But again, that was not as successful and didn’t fit in with the other images that we were taking. Mainly because with all of our artists that we researched they all use very harsh, directional lighting. But when using natural light, its very evenly spread and quite soft light.

We next had to decide which images we were going to use, and with having over 100 images to choose from, we had to be quite ruthless when deciding what photos we were going to use and what other ones we were going to discard. Luckily, when deciding, we all agreed and were able to narrow our edit down so we could easily see what we had to work with.

Our contact sheet of final edit images:

When thinking about what final edit pictures we wanted to create, we decided that we really wanted to produce a sequence of images that show her character. And when looking at our choice of photos, we thought that the landscape photographs would work best in achieving this. However, there was one image that we really liked that was inspired by Hisaji Hara so decided to display this image separately in addition to the sequence.

As our images turned out pretty much how we envisioned them, there wasn’t a huge amount we needed to change when it came to post-production. Shooting in RAW was essential to our process as this gave us the ability to edit the photographs in a non-destructive way. So firstly we opened our chosen images into camera RAW, in this we altered the exposure to make sure all our images were consistent. At this point, we also decided to add a slight vignette to the images as this framed the subject better and made the background appear darker, this creating a more mysterious aspect which was the effect that we were aiming to create. After which we opened the images in Photoshop as smart objects, Rasterised the layer and used the Patch tool and spot healing brush tool to create a flawless effect on her skin which was important in creating an image that resembles the film noir period.

When changing our images to Black and White in Photoshop, we decided that the best effect was the red filter option as this create the right amount of contrast and looked most like the stills from the film ‘Double Indemnity.’ To create the Sepia toned images we had to Desaturate the image, then open the ‘Hue and Saturation’ bar and select Sepia and adjust the brightness to the right amount for our photographs. Deciding between using Colour, Black & White or Sepia was a major consideration for us. One that we had a lot of time discussing and asked our peers for their preference also. As our influences for the shoot were Film Noir which is in Black & White, Hisaji Hara who photographs in sepia and Philip Lorca diCorcia who photographs in colour we were unsure. We finally decided on using colour as we believed these images came across strongest especially in conjunction with our chosen props.

Our Black & White and Sepia versions of our final images:

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As you can probably tell, our influences from artists and time periods have played a huge role in this weeks project. As the theme is ‘All the world is staged’ it was easiest to achieve the best result if you had a theme in which to base your ideas upon. Our individual image below was predominantly inspired by Hisaji Hara. As he took his influences from paintings by Balthus, copying their poses but using new models. We wanted to do the same, recreating the pose that Hara used. Hara changed his representation by creating the image in Sepia from paintings that were originally colour. Now we have taken that image and brought it back to colour when using digital photography which I think is really interesting. Hasidic Hara’s lighting was directional but in a subtle way. It was lit in a way to highlight the woman legs and bring into focus the shape created by the body, this is something that we also applied when creating this image.

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Above - Hisaji Hara. Below - Balthus 'Katia Reading'

Above – Hisaji Hara. Below – Balthus ‘Katia Reading’

When creating our sequence, narrative was the most important element. We wanted to use the story line from ‘Double Indemnity’ to allow us to structure it in a way that allows her harsh, manipulative character to show through. The wine glass was a key element in our structure of the images. We laid out our photo in the grid with the glass full at the start and empty at the end to show the profession of time in the narrative. The use of colour in the photographs, with red being a dominant colour in her lips, wine and books created an impression of the 1940s and worked well with the theme of our photographs and also in representing the work of Philip Lorca diCorcia. The consistent choice of directional lighting created this very dramatic effect which worked well with our narrative and enhanced the character in which we were portraying.

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The feedback that we received from these images were all very positive and I’m really happy with these final images that we’ve created. Using Lorca diCorcia’s strong directional lighting and colour, Hisaji Hara’s poses and Film Noir’s strong character and styling we have been able to create a modern version of all these three influences combined into one. Which has enabled us to create a strong piece of work. Additionally, this  weeks project has given me insight into the amount of elements you have to consider when performing a big shoot like this. But gave me encouragement when you can see the great results that you can achieve when a group of people join together to do this. Creating staged work that portrays a messages and engages viewers in to a narrative that creates a powerful effect.

© Kirstie Wilkinson

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