I am a highly sensitive person, to the point where it can at times feel like it consumes me and is hard to shake off. But in the mist of all this sensitivity, is this ability to “feel” what others may pass by. I have a vivid, over active imagination, that I get great pleasure in exploring. All of these parts of me are represented in my photography. I dream of these images, I see them long before I ever get the opportunity to capture them, and sometimes they remain in the pages of my journals or simply in my mind.
The Fall series is perhaps a perfect place to start this Behind the Screen discussion. I discussed in this post that I was looking through the glass and found myself exploring feelings of melancholy while taking in the scene that was in front of me. My observation of the scene shaped the images I created. The way I took in the scene, the details I mentally recorded, dictated the choices I made with regards to camera settings, the composition, the focus, and the motion within the image.
To me, melancholy feels like I am sitting in the center of a merry go round, that is spinning so fast that I can no longer make out the world around me. Instead, my body sinks further into the center, the nauseating pull of gravity forcing me into my frozen position.
In order to transfer my interpretation of melancholy, I selected to shoot this with a 3.2 second shutter speed. I needed enough time to capture motion blur of the leaves blowing in the wind and allow for time to rotate the camera, which simulated the feeling of spinning.
I had two choices to make after selecting my shutter speed. I needed to decide Aperture (depth of field) and focus. Because I wanted the environment to be recognizable, I opted to use a large depth of field and used f32 for my aperture. Had I wanted a softer, less recognizable scene, I would have used a shallower depth of field and probably would have shot closer to 2.8 to give it a smooth creamy feel. In order to do that I would have had to use a neutral density filter to block out the excess light from the long shutter speed.
The second decision was focus. I could have shot this completely out of focus and still achieved a beautiful abstract fall scene. But I really wanted the texture and the ability to capture the motion of each leaf, as if they were brush strokes, so I opted to manually focus so that the scene was clearly in focus and then to distort that focus through the motion of my camera.
With the settings in place, I composed my scene so that I could pull in the browns from the trees in the background and the oranges, yellows and greens from the foreground. There was a storm approaching and so on one of the trees, the leaves had flipped to reveal their white underside. This added to the color palate and is a large focal point of the texture within the images.
With all the technical aspects in place, I was finally free to just feel the process of creating these images. I’d wait for wind and would sway my hands in rhythm with its motion. Allowing myself the freedom to paint my melancholic vision with my camera resulting in unique images from frame to frame.
In post production, I did minimal editing. I added contrast via a curves layer set to soft light at 46 percent opacity. To add warmth, I did a pink and translucent gradient map set to soft light at 25 percent opacity and I also added a solid color layer (#ce9e7b) set to multiply at 25 percent opacity. Because I did the bulk of the creative work before and during the shooting process, each image in this series took less than two minutes to edit start to finish. Here is the final edited version of this image.