Experiments With Longer Exposure Times + Distortion

Inspired by the work on distortion and movement I've looked at, such as Francis Bacon's self portraits and film stills from the The Ring, I decided to conduct some experiments to see what I could do with longer shutter speeds and to have my subject moving at the same time. A lot of my inspiration for this, came from the faceless girl that I looked at, from film stills in The Ring. As I really liked the use of anonymity, that was creating through this unsettling way of putting her thick black hair, over her face.

To create these experiments I used the studio in my college, a DSLR camera in the form of the Canon EOS 60D, with a 18-55mm kit lens. I also used a tripod and two lights in front, on either side of my subject, on the lowest brightness. I used a black background so that I could best control the light hitting my subject, as I wanted the subject to blend into the background, rather than stand out of it to a certain extent, so that I would only capture these bright points of focus on her hair and arms in some cases. I also used a tripod in order to keep my camera completely still, while using longer exposure times, so that I had control of the movement I wanted my subject to make, rather than having to move the entire camera.

My main intention with these experiments, was to play around with using shutter speed and different movements with a subject, to create different distortions. I was inspired to do this by the photograph of the teens from The Ring that I looked at, stills of the faceless girl and also the paintings I looked at by Francis Bacon, who used distortion, to communicate emotionally his resentment towards himself and his life. 

For the majority of my favourite experiments, I've edited a colour version of the image and also a black and white version, which I was inspired to do by the powerful use of white noise and other monochromatic textures in The Ring's cursed tape. Taking inspiration from the photograph of the teens from The Ring, where the teen's faces were the only parts of the image that had been distorted, I decided to try the same with my subject and in most cases only had her move her head and keep the rest of her body as still as she could. I also made use of her long hair and had her put it over her face in a few of the experiments, to create a similar effect of anonymity, to the girl I looked at in The Ring.

The above image was one of the first I took, where I had my camera positioned quite far away on my tripod, so that more of my subject's body would be in the frame, in order to emphasise the movements she'd be making with her head. I also made use of the rule of thirds to aid the composition and help the viewer's eye move naturally with the movement of the subject across the image. 

Above is one of my most successful experiments from this shoot. This is because my subject has managed to keep the rest of her body completely still while moving her hair slowly upwards. I really like the black and white version of this shot in particular, due to the strong contrast between the light areas of the tips of my subjects hair and her arms against this black, void like background which she is seemingly blending into. I think this use of anonymity and this hunched position my subject has, is effective in creating a very haunting and eerie image, that is really similar to that of stills from The Ring. 

I also moved my camera higher and closer to my subject, in order to get some shots with just her upper torso and head in the frame. For these shots I really focused on the way my subject could move her head. My most successful shots were from when I told my subject to make smaller, sharp movements with her head, which created these really nice blurred effects over her face. 

Above was a particularly strange result of an experiment that I did using a white background so that I would pick up more detail from the movements of my subject. Instead of having her move her head, for this experiment I had her put her hands over her hair and then pull them away. As you can see this created a really surreal effect, that looks straight out of a horror film. Personally I really like this and would liked to have experimented with this further, as I didn't realise how much I would like the effect. 

Overall I am quite pleased with the results of these experiments, with movement and distortion and they have given me some ideas to think about, in regards to my final piece. At this stage I really like the idea of having a darker subject matter, to communicate a really conceptual idea with my work. I now want to look more at white noise and other conceptual artwork to inspire and build on my current ideas.

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