Reflections and thoughts on Assignment two: Painting with Light

Starting with Part III today, the first question that is posed to us is:

Can you identify both the apparent subject and any other connotations from your photos from Assignment Two, for example?

Having finished the second assignment successfully, I was given a constructive feedback that raised a lot of questions – like what would have been the result had I not worked with coloured gels? – according to my tutor, it would make my work look more serious had it been in black & white or a desaturated palette. The use of coloured gels made my work appear more playful. As happens with me quite often, I tend to sometimes look at my work and fall in love with some of it and thereafter develop a sort of an approach that I achieved what best I could (although in my defence I am working on it and improving every day). At the time of receiving the feedback, I did not understand it well as I was told that I could have processed a different colour of light in Photoshop later. Not knowing about colour replacement tool very well, I learnt it from a very helpful and kind fellow student and friend, Richard Keys. It’s only then I understood what my tutor meant. I understood that by giving it a coloured gel I might have unknowingly limited the possibilities of exploration or how the viewer interpreted it. Also by the red and blue gel used, it might have confined it to fall into a clichéd category and limited the understanding of the outcome by an audience.

The apparent subject in my assignment, by the virtue of the final look, is a young girl, somewhat scary and strange. The assignment falls into the category of horror. I don’t mind it at all and in fact, it seems to appear quite natural and effortless. Upon reflection, I see why the first impression that the audience gets is that of a horror story – it happened due to the use of coloured gels.  I would have liked it to perhaps be interpreted more towards the story of a lonely and disturbed young girl who is seeking attention and reaching out. A disturbed young girl on the verge of becoming a woman who has trouble coming to terms with it. Perhaps the use of black and white and normal light might have created a different outcome and perhaps not confined it ONLY to the horror genre that it has done now.

Whereas I quite enjoy the “horror” tag, I do understand now how I could have opened my work up to possibly different interpretations by attempting to do things differently and that is a good learning point.

A portrait can help us intuit something about a person’s character without actually knowing the person, by ‘reading’ their facial expression, their gaze, their attitude, clothes, etc. Does your second assignment reflect the person you photographed? Has the technique of painting with the light given the picture an altered interpretation? What is it?

 I shot the entire part II with one single model. It was helpful in many ways – To realize how to create different looks with make-up, clothes, lighting, background and then using different kinds of light. And how each and every single thing described here can change or alter our perception of the person. I had already taken several portraits of her where she looked beautiful and stunning. The challenge in the final assignment thus became how to make her look completely different from what I had attempted and achieved with her through the entire Part II leading up to the assignment. My assignment definitely does not reflect a true self of what she is but created an altogether different or altered perception of her.

To make someone who is inherently beautiful turn into something different – scary, strange, horrifying – to name a few – sounded like fun and also something different than what I had been doing with her for the past exercises. So, we attempted to create a series of images straight out of a horror movie.  The technique painting with light really helped create the mood and the ambience of images produced. The red and other colour gels that I used totally created a look of horror or fear that I had expected to generate through it. The character that my model posed as was quite successful also as I learnt from the feedback I received from various people.

I loved how this technique of painting with light effectively helped me produce a series of images that I had aimed to get, with the help of the right costume, postures and facial expressions. Overall, I am quite pleased with the results as they achieved an altered interpretation of my subject quite effectively.



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