Discovering worlds between


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Early this year I started a new series in collaboration with Michelle Bos, investigating ways of creating images evocative of the end of life, and the spiritual occupations of places.

Initially we worked with long shutter speeds to blur images and create ghostly apparitions. Later a variety of techniques were empoyed, including layering multiple images, as well as using layered mask techniques to emphasize certain areas of individual or combined images.

We have shot primarily at her home and in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona.

The series is ongoing.

The techniques broadly experimental.

It has led to new ways I think about images, and caused me to rethink categories in my Lightroom catalog.

I’m used to practical categories. Cities, desert, landscapes, sky, architecture, and the like.

Dream-2a_DSC7418-1-16-swBut now I find myself creating whole categories of more abstract notions. Texture, color, shape, light.

When one layers the images and adjust the opacity, the images themselves become filters of one another. They modify each other in sometimes startling and often unexpected or surreal ways, amplifying the visual stories of places in between worlds.

The process is evolving.

The angle an arm makes, or the way the model stands sometimes suggests a similar shape in a completely differnt image. I layer the second image atop one of her and start moving the opacity sliders, moving the layered image around, adding adjustment layers and curves to just see what might become. Sometimes the image combinations are duds, and sometimes they take the viewer to surprising places.

Laura-stars-arm-79_DSC8499-05-sw-dbaFor roughly three years I have been creating similar layered images in collaboration with Laura Milkins, though in a purely experimental way. There is no concept to what we do and the results are sometimes highly surreal.

The two projects generate artistic crosstalk, not just with respect to each other and the photographic process, but also enter into my film making and music making as well. Notions of filtering, flow-through surrealism and multiple realities find different expression in those forms, and in turn, experimentation in those media wash back into the photographic process. It has caused me to remix musical pieces to play with illusions of sonic depth, or blur instrumental colors.

With each batch of source photos with the two models, new ideas emerge, are discussed and tried out the next time.

Some work, some don’t.

Some work out later with more trial and error.

Laura-plant-sidewalk_LM-MW25-DSC6283-02-sw-dbaWe change up how close or far way the model is, how busy or simple the background, or the angle of the shot. Sometimes there are props or special lighting techniques. Often the ideas emerge from working with the source images themselves. A shadow noticed on an individual photo leads to efforts to control shadows, or creating gobos to shape the light and shadow. Fabrics, scrims, and veils are being experimented with, as well as covering the model with lights.

Each new batch of images presents new opportunities for exploration and experimentation.


~ by Daniel Buckley on September 24, 2016.

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