Artist and Technical Research – Insomnia Project

 

Anton Guilio and Arturo Bragaglia – Photodynamic Typewriter

When I realised that I wanted to do something with long shutter speeds and capturing movement in a single photo I started looking at artists who had done similar work.  Photodynamic Typewriter by Anton Giulio and Arturo Bragaglia was one of the first pieces that I looked at and felt a connection with.  I liked the ideas behind the movement Photodynamism -‘ included the use of high key lighting and long exposures to capture sudden (movement) gestures in a way that depicts movement as an indivisible reality, rather than a sequence of static poses’ (http://www.answers.com/topic/futurism-and-photography )

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These two images were taken in a similar way, by Eugene Atget, Paris Fantome is to the left and an image from ‘Images of Paris’ is on the right.  Eugene Atget used the techniques of photodynamism to capture the feelings and movements and character of Paris and its streets.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hiroshi Sugimoto used long shutter speeds to ‘record’ whole films in his work “Theater’s” through the 1970’s .  The movement in the film is rendered obsolete, as a rectangle of white, the light burning the image away.    The duration of the shots is set by the length of the film, and although the images were made when the theaters were full, because of the duration that the shutter is open, most audience members go unrecorded.

 

TECHNIQUE

Long exposures need – low light conditions

– Low ISO

-High F stop

– long shutter speeds of 10 secs or more.

Long exposures mean that the shutter is open for longer, recording any movement that happens between the shutter opening and closing.

 

 

Insomnia – The Final Edit

 

This is the final edit of my images for the summer project “Insomnia”.  I had these printed out at 8″x10″ at Asda (http://www.asda-photo.co.uk/).  They were displayed in the above order side by side in uni.  I was really surprised and also disappointed to realize that the work we had done over the summer wasn’t going to be graded or marked as such.  The images were intended to open discourse, if we wanted.  I did get to speak about my work but not in great depth, and I got asked questions too, some of which came from people who hadn’t read the accompanying Artist Statement which describes our work, what we did, how we went about it and what we were trying to capture, it is there to provide further understanding to the work and background information along with any further information that  may be relevant.  I set out to capture feelings about insomnia and how it affects me, I have found that my insomnia is caused mostly by subconscious anxiety and there isn’t much I can do to cure it, I have also learned how to shoot in lit, night-time conditions to capture movement and I am happy with the images I produced.  My understanding of aperture, ISO and shutter speed has been made clearer and I have other things that I would now like to try in the future.

 

All images shot with Pentax K2000, edited with Photoshop CS3 and printed by Asda.

Insomnia – Further Photos

 

 

Test Shot 1…  I took to see what effect the settings were going to have on the overall image, that the camera was positioned correctly and to check that everything I wanted was in the frame.

 

 

This is the image showing movement.  I am not entirely happy with this image as it seems to show the movement as a bright glow in the center of the bed rather than actual blurred movement.  I have thought about maybe re-shooting this but moving around more slowly or even editing it in Photoshop to see what it is like in black and white.

 

 

I have moved the camera in this shot and went straight into shooting without first doing a test shot…sometimes I get a bit carried away!  This is why the test shot comes further down… I am still unsure about this image and am having the same problems with it as the above shot.  None of these images have been edited in any way yet, they are straight from camera so perhaps playing around with them in Photoshop may help, if not I can try a re-shoot.

 

 

 

This image seems to capture movement a bit better with some hazy “ghost” parts to the image.  I am happier with this image than the previous images.  When I took this image I checked the last image and decided on the spot to re-shoot and moved around a bit slower to see if that made any difference.

 

 

 

Test Shot 2… If I had done the test shot first I think I would have chosen to move the duvet out of the frame completely and maybe remove some of the clutter in the background before shooting…  Worth noting for next time!

 

 

 

Test Shot 3 … I moved the camera again and took a test shot to see if the framing was ok, as with the above test shot, I think I should have removed the duvet completely from the shot as I am now finding it to be distracting along with the background clutter.

 

 

 

I am much more happy with how this image has turned out!  It is more along the lines of what I was expecting.  The image has some nice movement trails in it which I think have been helped by a different camera position, however I think that the camera and tripod were set up too close to the bed as the background is blurry which could have been caused by camera shake, I’m not sure if this matters too much with the overall image but I am tempted to re-shoot..  I really would like to convert this to black and white to see what it would look like!!!!

 

 

 

Test Shot 4… Again, I should have moved the duvet and the clutter from under the bed and in the background.  Really like the framing of this shot though!

 

 

 

This image, as the one above, works for what I set out to capture and is along the lines of what I expected.  In hindsight I would have moved the duvet as it is a large distraction for me personally.

 

 

 

This image is even better in terms of what I wanted to create.  I think that this camera angle helps to capture the movement as trails and ghosting really well!

 

 

 

Test Shot 5… Clutter beside the bed….

 

 

 

Test Shot 6… Still clutter but better in terms of distraction.  I think I should re-shoot this angle again and remove all items from the frame as they are still distracting.

 

 

 

This image is a bit too ghost like for me.  There is no real suggestion that the light parts of the bed are a person, to me it looks like a camera fault.  However, I am keen to see (again) how this would look like in black and white.

 

 

Again, I’m not entirely happy with this shot as there is not enough movement recorded.  I think it may be down to camera angle and shutter speed so I may have to re-shoot.

 

 

 

Another shot I did using the same camera angle as the shots above…  This one is marginally better than the ones above but only slightly.  I’m still not sure on the camera angle for this shot or how movement has been recorded.

 

 

Test Shot 7 … Another different camera angle, checking the framing of the shot.  I think that the clutter on the bedside cabinet should have been removed as it is distracting.

 

 

 

 

 

Sleep Diary – 18th – 19th July

Bed Time – 12.30am

Food/drink consumed – Smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich, tuna crunch baguette, 2 cups of coffee, 1 cup of red bush tea, 1 pt fizzy water, 2ltrs cider, 1 aero white choc mousse.

Activities – Driving, shopping, visiting/caring for friend, housework, shower, Skype, reading and research.

Sleep Quality – 4 and 3.  i found it hard to fall asleep and despite the time I went to bed I was still awake at 2.45am.  And although I woke feeling like I’d had a good night’s sleep I woke up several times during the night but not for any reason (except 4.23 when next doors baby woke me up…)

Sleep Diary 17th – 18th July

Bed Time – 11.45pm

Food/Drink Consumed – 3 mugs of Lady Grey Tea, 1 Red Bush tea, glass (1/2 pt) Orange juice, 1 Frij Chocolate Fudge Brownie milkshake, 1/2 cheese and tomato flan, 5 tomatoes, 1 cheese topped roll with smoked cheese filling, 1 cheese topped roll plain, small fish and chips (home cooked), 1 Becks beer (4%)

Activities – Washing up, tidying, planting out sunflowers into garden, blog writing, researching Insomnia, hoovering, cleaning, Skype.

Sleep Quality – 3 (see https://artreviewed.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/insomnia-project-sleep-diary/ for sleep grading.)

Today I have felt really drained, I have struggled to stay awake and havent felt completely with it.  I’m not sure whether this could be anything to do with the weather as my friend has also felt the same today.

Insomnia Project – Sleep Diary

I read somewhere that it can be useful to keep a “Sleep Diary” noting what time you go to bed and the quality of sleep you have to see if you can identify triggers in loss of sleep.  I also read that it is worth while making a note of food and drinks consumed in the day incase the insomnia is triggered by certain foods (dairy, sugars, caffeine etc…) and a note of what you have done in the day.  I thought that this may be a good idea and may help with both the insomnia and also my project as a whole.

I will be grading my sleep quality on a 5 point basis –

5 Slept right through

4 Trouble falling asleep

3 Waking up in night

2 Awake most of the night

1 No sleep

I shall try to include reasons for waking up too if I can (too hot, noise, toilet, etc…) as I think that may be quite useful to note as well.

Ok, so last night…

16th July – 17th July

Went to bed – 11.30pm

Food/Drink consumed in day – 5 coffees, 1 tea, Salad (Asda boxed salad, carrot, salad leaves, pepper, cabbage) with cheese, tomatoes and mushrooms and Ceaser dressing, 3 Becks (4%) and 1 Strawberry Cider (4%)

Daytime Activities – Driving, shopping, socializing/caring, visited parents, shopping in evening, Skype, research, reading.

Sleep Quality – 4 . Although I went to bed earlyish, I was still awake at 2.30am and couldn’t seem to settle down and get comfortable to sleep even though I was tired.

Researching Insomnia and Ideas

Today I am looking through my photo magazines and photo art books in order to gather some ideas to further push my ideas within the topic of Insomnia. 

Yesterday I sat and thought about images I could create and techniques that may be worth using in my photos to push the idea I have further.  I also created a list of things that I would like to play around with more in my images, one of them being shutter speed, so I can blur images and create motion and a sense of time passing. 

I am also doing some reading up on Insomnia and its causes, so far none of the causes listed seem to be reasons for my insomnia but there must be a reason for it somewhere.  it is also useful to see what I can do to help ease the sleeplessness.  I am thinking about creating a diary of my sleep patterns that may help to identify causes and identify a pattern that I can use to avoid triggers.  This may then become part of the overall project but I’m not sure yet…

Insomnia – Photo Ideas

I posted about a project I thought about yesterday and have taken some photos that have played around with some ideas I have had, some are more successful than others….

2.59-3.00

I took a load of photos of the clock in my bedroom on a long exposure time, trying to get an image of time ticking by, I think this one is the best of the bunch although I’m sure I can do better…maybe a shorter exposure time?  I wanted to capture a feeling of clock watching and feeling time going by but still being awake to witness it as this is what happens when I can’t sleep, minutes drag by and eventually turn into hours and I am aware of every second of it.

Restless

 This was taken on a 2 min shutter speed.  I wanted to capture the restlessness that insomnia leaves you with.  The photo shows my movement (albeit as a big glow!) and how I would move around in bed when experiencing a sleepless episode.  I really like this photo and am not sure I would want to change anything in it.  It may be interesting to do several of these kind of images, maybe using a film camera as I did have a couple of technical difficulties (one being I wanted to record my movement over night but my camera didn’t have a setting that I could use to keep the shutter open all night…)

Waiting #1

 There are moments when I have one of my insomnia attack where I try to settle down and get as comfortable as possible and just lie there waiting for sleep to come…this image tries to depict that.  I used my mobile phone as a light source as I didn’t want anything as harsh as a bulb to light the image.  I think that the use of mobile phone lighting has worked well (I have also lightened the image using Photoshop) as it gives a directed light that is quite soft and doesn’t light the background at all.  It seems like the darkness is enveloping the subject more.  I’m not totally happy with the mobile phone being on view in the photo.

Waiting #2

 Another version of the above.  I think this photo is much better than the above as you can not see the mobile phone (as much…) in the image.  I have, again, brightened this in Photoshop and also cropped it.  I am also happier as this image seems less grainy and more in focus and clear.  I still think there is a lot to work on within this image and maybe I can do a re-shoot or play around with the images taken a bit more.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a compilation of all the photos I took, including the pre-photoshop images and the ones I took when setting up for the ideas that I had.

All photos shot with my Pentax K2000 DSLR

Insomnia

For the past 5 to 6 weeks I have been suffering with really bad insomnia (http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Insomnia/Pages/Introduction.aspx info about it here…) I’ve suffered from it for years on and off but normally it seems to go away on its own.  This time it has stayed with me for a course of weeks on end.  I have no idea what has caused it and have looked into likely reasons for it and also ways to try to get rid of it but nothing seems to be working at the moment.  I don’t want to go down the medication route as I have done that before, while effective for short periods of time, medication doesn’t seem to work and I hate the idea of relying on medicine long-term.  It leaves me feeling groggy and unable to concentrate (not good when you need to drive places and do things), affects my motivation levels (which, ok, are affected by lack of sleep but not as much) and generally leaves me feeling a bit useless.

Last night was probably the worst I have been for a while (maybe 2 weeks) where it felt like I was lying there for hours but when I checked the time it had merely been a matter of minutes, I couldn’t get comfortable and seemed to be moving around every 5 seconds although I believe this was more out of frustration than anything else, I was too hot then too cold even thought the room temperature was at a fixed constant, then my mind started playing tricks –  was that movement in the shadows I saw? , did I just hear something?

Even worse are the thoughts I allowed my mind to have… Is it just me awake now?  I bet it is.  Is the darkness closing in around me?  How long has it been now?  Why am I the only person that can’t get to sleep?  Am I really tired?  I wonder what I could be doing instead?  And then there is the emotional thing of feeling so lonely when there is only you awake…

So, while all this crap was going on in my  head and I was tossing and turning and checking the clock for the bazillionth time I had a thought about making this into a project of sorts.  Next time I can’t sleep (and I dare say it will be soon) I am going to get my camera out and start documenting it and see what I can come up with.  Lets start using this ‘illness?’, ‘incapability?’, ‘sleep failure?’, whatever term you use for it into something that could be quite interesting.