I found this exercise most compelling, mainly as it helped me discover the creators behind several iconic images that are some fundamental part of our culture it’s easy to lose track of the heritage and context of those pictures.
Researching Harold Edgerton particularly hit home just how much I recognise but lack the knowledge of the creation and creator, especially the era and process behind the image which in its way enriched the image even more. I chose several of Edgerton’s images to reflect upon as I feel they also link in with my own drive and ambitions in photography.
Bullet Through Candle Flame (1973)
.30 Bullet Piercing an Apple (1964)
Back Dive (1954)I chose these images first as I feel that they are representative of the iconic influence on pop culture. Edgerton uses common high speed techniques taken to an extreme level for the capture of bullets passing through objects and in the case of the flame, air and gas. What I find most interesting is that just as his predecessor in terms of scientific photography, his techniques explored the very smallest fraction of a second to analyse the interaction of fluids, yet there connection to real world objects helps the general populace relate to the theory. I feel this is why these images have become so iconic as they are real. To paraphrase Eugène himself “I am after the facts, only the facts”. It’s a quote that resonates with my own work, whilst not looking to explore the scientific theories behind material interaction, to me the real power of the photograph lies in representing the world as it is in the moment and the power of the image to manipulate the truth as the perception is it represents fact. Further to his work in high speed photography, I found it really interesting how Eugene drove the field of photography commonly known as ‘Stroboscopic’. The use of a flash to quickly light a subject multiple times within a single exposure. A technique Eugene used to show us the movement of the human body in a well practiced movement such as the diving image selected above. Again the study of the scientific theories behind physical prowess reveals the beautiful movement that passes too quickly for us to absorb.Arthur Mason Worthington
AM Worthington (1894)
Worthington’s use of high speed capture of the series ‘Splashes’ was driven by his fluid dynamics research. Using the technique to capture the minute details of the movement of liquids and their interactions helped develop his knowledge of physics. The techniques he used were pioneering for the time but their effects can be felt throughout photographic history. Especially with fellow scientists such as Harold Eugene, his work I reference above due to its prominence in popular culture despite its similar scientific background.Eadweard Muybridge
In short Muybridge could be considered a grandfather of the modern film. He used a technique of multiple cameras long a set plane to capture multiple exposures of a moving subject. This was completed by measuring out specific distance and a system of trip wires to trigger the exposure to achieve the types of images displayed above. These images were then able to be adapted to be displayed using his ‘zoopraxiscope’ which is essentially a ‘zoetrope’. This allowed the movement of the horse galloping to be viewed in motion. Much like how film is displayed, and surprisingly similar technique to the one used in the 1999 film The Matrix to create ‘Bullet Time’.
A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai) (1993)
Of all the images I’ve selected, A Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai) is the I like the most. Created by Jeff Wall the documentary incidental style of the image feels so natural its hard to believe he was known for using models and posed composition. I particularly like how the main body of the image is fairly standard landscape composition whilst the incident of lost papers in the wind feels like it was captured completely by chance. There is a sense of humour in the reactions of the subjects which I find really engaging, wanting to get closer to see the detail I their faces and actions. I find his work very reminiscent of Henri Cartier-Bresson and the ‘decisive moment’. One final point I am drawn to is Jeff’s use of light boxes with his image as a transparency affixed to the front. Being an avid user of an iPad when processing my images, I struggle to print without feeling the image lacks that backlit pop, so I really like how this image has the benefit of increased contrast achieved by the lighting technique.
I chose two photographs to attach to this exercise.
Jazz snatching ball (iso 100, 1sec exposure, f18, 12 flashes 10hz, 1/32 flash
This is image was my first attempt in a long time at using the stroboscopic technique to capture movement.
Using a Godox 685s hotshot flash I eventually settled on setting the flash to shoot 12 flashes at 1/32 power and 10hz (the number of flashes per sec) the ensure there was enough light per flash to highlight the subject whilst providing enough exposures to follow the movement whilst not capturing so many that the movement into a blur. Finally I settled on setting the aperture to F18 which not only reduced the light down so to not raise the exposure to high per flash and to maintain a dark background where possible but also helped maintain focus despite remotely activating the camera on movement too fast for the auto focus to work. Setting the exposure time to one second ensured I caught a full range of mention for the subject.
Reviewing the image I am generally happy how the technique has worked but if I were to revisit this attempt I would change a number of things. First, I would use a long focal length to reduce down the amount of excess image I had to crop away. Second, I would make use of a back drop to cut out on the busy background and let the subject pop more with isolation. Third, I would try and encourage Jazz to jump across the frame instead of up so to separate out her movement more instead of the exposures stacking as seen here. The fourth change I would make would be to off set the flash to the side to capture more of a high key lighting placement to catch more highlight rather than fill which can increase the confusion caused by stacked exposures. Finally I would attempt to position myself out of frame which would be easier with a longer focal length and backdrop as I only need access to Jazz to wiggle a toy to make her jump.
This second image was one I shot whilst experimenting with an idea for a series of images.
For this image I set up a black backdrop about 50cm behind the subject. Using my 50mm lens and a Godox 685s hotshot flash I shot this image using a wireless transmitter to connect to the flash which I set at 45 degrees to the rear of the subject at approximately 50cm distance. I set the flash to TTL so that the camera would send the required exposure information to be used. I then set the exposure time knowing it would be fast enough to ‘freeze’ the movement. Finally I chose an f stop which would help maintain focus as I was shooting remotely and manually despite being able to open the aperture to F1.8. This is due to needing a few centimetres in focus area to allow for movement of my hand and the ketchup. This dictated using iso400 to ensure the exposure was adequate as the flash was set just to highlight the liquid. Using a remote and 2 sec timer I practised to squeeze the icing syringe exactly as the shutter opened.
Overall, I am very happy with the results of this image, the overall look and execution is exactly what I was aiming to achieve. My only criticism is that I would have liked to have more of a spread and globular look to the ketchup which I could achieve with either altering the thickness of the fluid or by using a different type of tip on the icing syringe.