Friday, 26 August 2011

UCA Summer Project

Still life self-portrait

Developing my idea
Upon reading I had the task of creating a self portrait without appearing in it myself I began thinking of what kind of objects I thought related to me and my personality; objects which would represent me well. The first whole idea of an image I came up with was the one I ended up sticking with and it came to me quite quickly while I was simply considering my brief. For this reason I assumed it would be a good idea to think of other ideas for photographs I could be portrayed in through still life but as well as the fact that this was harder than I thought, I was also happy with my first idea after finalising my photograph.

My original perception of my self-portrait changed as I developed my idea further. I first imagined a single pink gerbera flower lying on dusty, cracked ground. The juxtaposition between subject and location is what made this image appeal to me and caused me to want to capture it as my self-portrait.

Then I noted ways in which my still life self-portrait represented me. While I was trying to decide which flower would best suit the image and myself, someone told me about the passion flower. I thought the meaning behind it was perfect in representing me and went ahead that day in taking the photograph of the flower in an unusual place - with some help, as it was quite a difficult task.

Taking the photograph
I asked my boyfriend to help me with my photograph because I needed 2 pairs of hands - mine to take the photograph and his to hold the flower. We found the perfect place where the ground was cracked very effectively and looked just as I had imagined. The only downside was the wind which made it difficult to take the photograph in focus. After constantly changing position and angle and becoming a little frustrated that it wasn't looking as good as I'd hoped I eventually took a few that I was happy with and headed back to have a look at them.

Editing the photograph
I used Photoshop to edit my photograph. I chose the best photograph from the ones I had taken. I judged this mainly on the focus but also on which position the flower looked best in and how well you could see the ground and the flower protruding from it.

Firstly, I optimised the contrast and exposure of the whole photograph by using curves. I created separate layers for the flower and the leaves and edited these differently so not one of the two was too saturated or too different in tone and they needed to be different fro the background which altered when I made differences to the flower itself. Then I removed distracting elements from the background, behind the flower, by clone stamping. To make the ground look more African, I used the curves again to change the contrast and exposure of the ground. I then used the colour balance to change the colour and the shade of the ground and lastly I duplicated the background layer and made this layer darker and created a gradient layer mask to cause only the foreground to be affected. This allowed the colour of the ground to fade into the paler colour of it underneath the more recent layer.

How my still life self-portrait represents me:

  • The ground represents where I am from in it's state and colour - Africa, my origin; which is significant to me and who I am. Spending my childhood with the people I did and in the place that I did has had an affect on who I am and is therefore very accurately representative of me.
  • The flower being in this location is a surprise which symbolises the surprise that people have when they find out my origin.
  • The flower being (made to look as if it is) able to grow in this unusual place represents my ability to flourish somewhere new and different to where I am from.
  • The flower is one of my favourite colours which relates to me - one of my preferences.
  • My reason for using the passion flower in my photograph to represent me is due to it's religious meaning which is relative to my life as I have been brought up in a Christian family and have been raised accordingly.
  • The flower and I share similar qualities such as femininity and fragility which is another reason why it represents me.
  • The single flower is to signify how I see myself as my own person; someone who doesn't follow the crowd and most importantly how I believe I have "found myself".
  • Lastly, my style of photography is portrayed through the subject - my work is primarily of the natural beauty of the world and I find when I am in my favourite environments for photography, my photographic eye usually only deems such things worthy of taking a photograph of. 

My original image

My finished still life self-portrait

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