School isn’t technically over. There are two internships to complete and a final portfolio, but today was the last day we met for class on campus. I cleaned out my locker and found the soup can assignment, binders full of negatives, film, and a whole slew of other stuff. Like I said, it’s not over yet. Cleaning out your locker, though, has a way of making you feel like it’s over.
The assignment for Biocommunications Object Lighting was to create a high-technoidish image of a cell phone. It should have colored light and a specular (shiny) background. I tried that on Tuesday but I just wasn’t feeling it. And by “wasn’t feeling it” I mean “having a quiet meltdown alone in the studio then refusing to look at the pictures”. I knew I needed another go, and driving to school on Wednesday my idea hit me. I would need rubber bands and willing models.
There is a graduate of RCC, Wes Naman, who has created some amazing portraits of people with faces distorted by rubber bands. There is also a weird picture of a guy with a rubber band holding a cell phone to his head. Those were my seeds. I mentioned my idea to a handful of people, seeking approval and gauging their reaction. It really sounded like a dumb idea when I said it out loud. But my teacher, whose instructions for the assignment I would be ignoring, said go for it.
I shot these pictures using a Sinar large format camera with a Phase One digital back, tethered using Capture One, and it was my first time using this set up. I wrangled three classmates who didn’t know what they were getting into and asked them to 1) remove the cases from their very expensive iPhones 2) take an extreme close up of themselves using their phone 3) strap the phone to their heads with rubber bands and 4) please be very still while I try to focus.
There was minor retouching of the screens of the cell phones, to make them match as best I could. I won’t tick off a list of about a thousand things I would do differently to improve these images, because I really like how they came out and I’m glad I tried my cray cray idea. Here’s how I presented the final three images for my assignment.
(click this one for bigness)
Thanks to Aleece White, Abbi O’Leary and Bekah McClure, who all participated willingly. I think they would want you to know that rubber bands around your head are, um, uncomfortable to say the least. As much as you try to not let them snap…they snap. Sorry girls.
This is my favorite picture form this semester, and is making me wish I could shoot with a large format camera all the time. I set this still life up at home over the weekend. I don’t have a studio (what is a studio anyway, but a room, amirite?) so I set this up on my kitchen table with a piece of mat board as my background. I was using daylight balanced transparency film so it is illuminated with daylight from the window. The exposure on the left was for 30 seconds, so no one was allowed to walk through the kitchen while I was making that frame. I scanned the film, created the diptych in photoshop, printed on ink jet paper, and mounted it for my large format portfolio! BOOM.
As part of the shift from film to digital at school, we learned how to use the film scanners. Although you can get a relatively good scanner for cheap, the ones we have at school are top of the line. I’m going to try to do as much scanning as I can while I’m here because the results are really amazing!
The image above is a scan of a black and white negative that I used in my spring semester portfolio and is maybe one of my favorite pictures I’ve taken. It is a studio shot using the large format camera and 4×5″ film. I love the print I made with the negative (it’s hanging up at home!), but now I have this digital copy to work with now and long into the future.
The next assignment in Custom Color Printing is to create an ink jet print from a scanned (quality) negative. I’m not sure any form of printing will be more exciting than black and white printing in the darkroom, but I am absolutely sure I’d rather touch this up in Photoshop than with spotting dyes and a paintbrush.