Montage Project 7 – ‘Light’

For this week, we had to create a project based around the theme of ‘light’. I felt that our ‘Shapes’ project had already covered light in some detail, but decided to make another artefact nonetheless – preferably something to do without shadows. In the lecture, we were introduced to the idea of using very slow shutter speeds to create ‘light drawings’. Light drawings were initially created by artists such as Picasso (see below), but as you can probably tell they required a good hand in order to make them look good. You also need good co-ordination, as the image you ‘paint’ is reversed on the lens in front of you.

I figured doing simple light drawings was a bit too simple for me, so I wanted to mix things up a bit. Picasso used flash photography to include stills of himself as he made his light drawing, but although I wanted myself on the reel, I felt that flash photography was not the way I was going to do it.

I decided early on to use my DSLR camera for the project (Nikon D5000). I intended originally to use a PDX10 with a slow shutter speed, but I realised that would not work for making proper pictures. I set up my room and plunged it into dark, and used two glow-sticks to make my ‘paintbrushes’. Not wanting to jump ahead too fast, I started with a few simple light drawings, some of which I really liked, and thus included them in my final piece. After the initial shots were taken, I decided to ‘draw’ out a lightbulb-orientated joke. The first one to come to mind was the mexican one:

‘How many Mexicans does it take to change a lightbulb? –> Juan!

I just got to work writing out the words. I realised early on that whole words such as ‘change’ were not going to be completed in one shot alone, and nor could I replicate the word as a noun for a picture (in the way I attempted to do with the word ‘lightbulb’, I drew a picture instead of spelling a word). My way to counteract this problem was to break the word down into two letters at a time, using one hand for one letter and the other hand for the other. Then, in editing, I would speed up the letters in quick succession to hopefully spell the word and differentiate it from the other text. Again, all letters had to be back to front in order for them to make sense through the lens. The shoot overall took about thirty minutes. Looking back on it, perhaps blank-space photos between words may have worked better to create the entire sentence.

Finally, I wanted my own photograph as a way of ‘signing’ the work. I experimented with various positions using the glow-sticks, before finally just getting in close to the lens and twirling them all around my head to light my face up from all sides. The final shot was the one I was most happy with (a lot of shots didn’t turn out too well, as I had to hold my head perfectly still for four seconds whilst moving the glow-sticks around). It made quite a nice to end to the piece I thought. I chose a sort of ‘rave-esque’ music track to place in background to fit the neon-style presentation of the work.

It would have been nice to use more colours – blue, green and yellow most notably. However, it seemed I only had red and orange, and once they were cracked open… that was that.

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