Mysterious Subject (Negative Practice Part 2) | Project Development | Surfaces and Strategies |

I decided to further my experiments with the negative practice to a second part by visiting new locations and, as mentioned in part one, make use of a subject with negative editing effects in mind with the intention to create a creepy photo…

I started at the two long tunnels in Bath. They stretch on for about 2 miles and are mainly used for bicycles.

This was a short practice shoot, as I had plans for a larger concept later on. Here is the contact sheet…

Contact Sheet

I began to apply the layers I had created in part one to the first photo I took out of the new batch to test out how they would look in a different environment. Once discovering the most effective outcome, I will proceed to apply this to the rest of the batch in hopes to  achieve successful outcomes…

I would begin by using these two outcomes from part one…

 

Once applied, I would experiment with switching certain layers off and on such as the invert, black and white, curves and brightness/contrast…

 

Some interesting results, I found the colours to be too bright when the curves layer 2 was attached and the black and white layer removed. But when curves 2 is turned off, the image smoothed out into a nice blue colour.

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I thought the most interesting results was from the layers of the second images from part 1 which is DSC_0118…

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It reminds me of a cross between an old camera, a night vision camera, infrared camera and the view of a creature portrait in such movies as Predator for example.

I was with a friend who was skating at the time, I used this as an opportunity to use as my first subject…

 

A similar result with the colours, if it is combined with the curves layer 2, in my opinion, remains to be too harsh and grainy. But when in black and white, this grain is not as much of a problem. Again, my favourite results came with the layers originally from DSC_0118…

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There are many things I like about this edit, the fact the subjects attire has now darkened. The hallway has lit up, the reflection of the flash against her boots have lit up black. But what I like most is the wet texture it has created around the walls. Like a portal wrapping itself around the tunnel. I tried to expanding the wrapping effect to cover the entire photo with the curves layer, but couldn’t make it happen.

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As would be expected, when inverted, the darkness came from with in the tunnel outwards. Creating an image where the subject is entering, or discovering, a creepy pitch black tunnel.

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I was also really happy with this result as the tunnel is lit up in an eerie way, if stared at for a long time, looking down the tunnel you may start to notice that it seems as if there are different levels of grain. Like some sort of barrier or perhaps another portal. Not to mention I like how the walls are lit in a star shape formation and, like the subjects found in part one, here the subject also has formed some sort of cartoon like appearance with a stroke around the edges.

Expanding on the creepy factor, I managed to take an image that I had envisioned, but with out any planning, a spontaneous fire of the camera lead to this shot…

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The eyes glowing from the flash, the tilted stance, a zombie like appearance. I couldn’t wait to apply the edits to this one to try and get the scariest outcome possible…

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What I find interesting about scary images is that they could easily be mislead to being real with no context. If I were to show this to someone without giving any of the details mentioned above, and were to say “I fired a random shot in this tunnel and this ghost appeared in the camera”, with this edit, I believe it can make it look real but of course always still questionable. If you look closely the eyes are two black dots and the skates without context could be unidentifiable. I asked a fellow photographer friend of mine and then a friend who’s a “non photographer” what first came to their mind when viewing the photo and what they thought of the subject…

Photographer…

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Two interesting responses, it was nice to see that the alien vs predator/nocturnal animals vision was noticeable by others and the response to the subject was different to mine. Not supernatural, so maybe not as realistic as I thought.

Non-Photographer…

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Interesting to see that to some it may not come across as a photo instantly. Also the fact I found them to be creepy, but nothing about it being remotely scary is mentioned from the two viewers. I guess I’ve watched too many horror films.

Here is the same photo with the colour added…

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And the rest of the edits…

 

Moving on…

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This image here, after looking at it for a while, made me think of a video game. As the foreground walls are darkened, the tunnel ahead of her it lit and she is standing as if she is hiding a powerful torch, exploring. Also as it is edited in this way, it is hard to distinguish the lights on her ankles as reflectors but rather they look like lights. This what I like about the effect of editing. Whilst remaining as a photo, with a few layers, for me, the atmosphere and what resides in the photograph can change after observing for a while.

As I mentioned above I haven’t been too keen on the results of the coloured images, but this one for me was an exception…

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The vertical line separating the blue from the reds in this image was the clearest out of all images taken. I like its pure aesthetics and it was pleasant surprise when the layers I had created were applied.

Here are the rest of the test shoots outcomes…

 

Some powerful colours here but none were as clearly separated as the image above. I did like the results of the 4th image along as whilst everything else was blacked out the camo design on the leggings were amplified and exaggerated.


Now it was time to move on the next shoot…

This is where I would take my subject and with the negative effect in mind, use it to create mysterious and creepy photos along with a selection of backgrounds. This background selections where used to ether A. make the subject stand out or B. make the subject difficult to spot, but when spotted, may leave the viewing in surprise.

I started off shooting in a nearby field, moved on to a grave yard and then finished up in a forest…

 

I started editing the field images. I originally wanted my subject to wear a mask but I could not find one at the time and so after trying a couple of shots without, I made the subject wear a hood, it turned out to be a strange hood, but that is what I wanted, something strange…

I wanted to make a separate edit before I started applying the layers I have already made to see if I can make an improvement…

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I adjusted the curves which made it possible to have the clouds less in the negative but the lower and upper end remains in the full negative. I also tweaked the colours…

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The outcome…

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I was very pleased with how the initial outcome came out, I had feeling that the inside of the hood would light up form the negative effects, but I did not know how the rest would turn out, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the eyes had lit up.

I then of course added black and white…

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From here I went on to test out the effects of the different layers against this initial photo…

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I found this one interesting as it cuts out the sky completely, putting emphasis on the subject…

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This one as it adds a surreal grain to the image and most importantly, a change from the others, blacks out the face completely. I believe this to have truly create an isolated, scary feel to the surrounds and subject.

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This one resulted in an over exposed image, I think it created a wasted opportunity as it became so over exposed that the face and eyes in the hood become not as visible.

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However, interestingly, this set of layers made the face visible. This was interesting, but it  was something I didn’t want as it takes away the mystery and scariness of the subject.

After this I had learnt that the different types of layers would effect the photos in different ways, so I would had to carefully select and experiment to find the best looking combination for each type of photos taken…

Here are the results for the first section in the fields…

I tested each and every image with each type of layer. I believe some worked better with colour, some with a darker shade of black and white some with a lighter. My aim was to find the best possible result I could for each image.

The results of the appearance of the subject continued to amaze me. The next batch was still in the field but against a forest. Here is an image selected from the batch which showed the subjects eyes in a different way to the other images…

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As you can see here, rings of light have appeared around the subjects eyes, the face reminds me of the art work from the music band ‘Disclosure’…

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I also like how the subject is surrounded with tree which are now white, making the subject stand out in a grounded fashion.

I believe a similar image also works well with colour, a purple colour formed…

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I also took a step back, taking a wider image of the landscape included…

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This created a swooping effect, a shade of both light and dark which I was very pleased with. To me this truly shows the power of the negative effect. The darkness of this inside of the forest has lit up the subject. I see a mixed conflict of the subjects feelings. The character is mysterious, dark. Coming from the inside of a forest yet it is lighter. All very reversed and I find it not just visually pleasing but interesting, the subject has a story…

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Someone walking their dog came into shot when attempting a wide field shot…

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At the time I thought this may be interesting but I didn’t turn out that way for me. The wander was hard to become visible with any of the layers.

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I attempted the half negative as I did with the tree in part one. Again I don’t find this to be as visually pleasing of interesting as the other images, but one thing I do notice is I think it has now become harder to believe this is one whole photo.

I placed the subject from left to right to the middle…

Next up, was the grave yard…

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This image is my favourite out of the graveyard images. Almost looking like a cartoon, the word that comes to mind is… Sinister. I’m happy with the positioning of the subject, hiding through the bushes. But what really gets me if the evil glowing eyes accompanied by what seems to be an upside down cross, conveniently in correlation with the upside crossed gravestone.

Please feel free to view the other outcomes…

The next pair of images I felt didn’t work as well but I attempted them in colour and black/white. I feel the face of the subject was not a prominent as the others. I thought the grave stones texture may look good…

The next section I hid the subject in the trees…

(1)

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(2)

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(3)

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What I like about these images is that the subjects face somehow lens and completely merges with the trees. Things that struck me are that in image (1) The subject is mysteriously glowing. And in image (3) The subjects face is merged with the tree but this time in complete darkness, I feel this to be my creepiest image so far.

Finally for this section, I took some wide shots against the grave yard and subject…

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The mean eyes were back, but as the grave yard was not to visible from here, I wanted to again make use of the trees and the effective textures they bring to the backgrounds…

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The sunny weather brought different shades to the texture of trees. My personal favourite is this image below…

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The stance and the size of the background towering above the subject gives the subject a powerful look. The trees don’t have to have to be trees, they can be lightening, or even an alternative life form.

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Finally, we reached the forest. Here is where I wanted to show the subject in a environment where it can be hiding inside the trees, not just against them.

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I first made use of key spots, this involved discovering tree stumps. I started off with the traditional negative images in black/black and colour…

Something with these images weren’t quite right for me, they didn’t have the right spark to trigger any emotion. I found myself not wanting the subject only to look scary, but to also look sad, disappointed and empty. Something is upsetting it…

Further experimenting with switching layers on and off, I managed to find a solution that resulted in a dark, metallic feel which I was very fond of…

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I couldn’t be more happy with the result. I was fortunate to have sunlight to shine down upon the subject, enough to outline the figure.

The good weather continued. I spotted a circle of small stumps in an open section of the forest…

The subject started to become even more surreal looking. Between the two levels of light edits I selected, I found the darker one to hold the sunlight in a stronger way, making the light resting on the subject and area around it more distinct…

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I also like the metallic texture of the jacket after the effects have been added.

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This is more visible with the lighter edit. Which makes it hard for me to decide which one I think is best…

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In this position, whilst editing, I noticed that the further away I was the less detailed and over crowded the images would look as opposed to the closer ones, for example…

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I continued to ask the subject to look down…

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Similar principles go for the light and dark here. Either way, I am happy the both keep the dark, lonely isolated vibe. As if you had just stumbled across this subject…

The subject tried leaning even further forward, but the posture ended up looking too forced for my liking…

To the right was a tree that had fallen down and I continued to shoot from the high ground I was on…

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What is interesting about the next images is that the face seemed to merge again with the texture of the background. This was something unexpected but I liked it…

Here are 3 different edits…

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Mysteriously blended into the environment.

The lighting was great for the next set of images, but I had to stick to my edits even though the natural light becomes faded once the edit is applied…

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Some wider shots, where I think colour triumphed due to the wide vast textures…

I then directed the subject to look to the side, downwards, to bring that essence of sadness and loneliness.

There was something about these edits that weren’t quite doing it for me. I wanted something that could bring the light out more, I tried two things, one was applying 2 edits together. This resulted in an increased metallic look…

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What I liked most about these images is the distortion that happened to the subjects face…

However I still wasn’t satisfied, so with the double edits lined up, I started to adjust and switch off certain layers to achieve a whole new look…

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It’s a black and white, mainly with a hint of invert. Almost like a painting but it is still a photograph. It’s eerie feel is less dominate but is still there along with the isolated atmosphere. Unfortunately, by mistake I closed the photoshop image I had created this layer from, so I will have to attempt to replicate it.

Finally, I wanted to capture some shots of the subject hidden with in the forest, on our was to the new location there was a bank…

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And then we got into the trees…

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Here is where it all lead up to. By lowering the light it made the subjects face stand out. I like how only the eyes are visible and they appear as horizontal lines.

I also made the subject hide and poke its head out from the trees…

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Hopefully to a new viewer, this will be a surprise they will find after analysing the photograph.

Please feel free to view the entire collection of images taken at this final stage…

 

Overall, it was great to experience what the layers I had created in part one, would do to the new photos I had taken. It reminded me of the excitement I received when first developing photographs in the darkroom. I believe the stance of the subject was as important as the backgrounds themselves. I had to make sure the subject looked ironically natural in its own habit that it had been spotted in. The editing process took several days to complete, adding the layers, read adjusting them to find worthy results and then saving them individually, twice in at different sizes. Small files for my CRJ and larger sizes for the potential final images. I was happy I was able to keep the same isolated vibe through out the body of work. This will be a valuable too to add to future images and creates a path way to potentially using these layers to express a subjects emotions visually…

Thanks.

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