Friday 18 May 2012

The dramatic effect of projecting patterns onto a model

Projection onto a body or face for photography has been something I've been wanting to do since having the idea last year.

The trip by the Milton Photographic Club to Marty Rayner's “The Works Studio” near Croxton offered a great opportunity to give this a try. A particular help was the professionalism of the model Amber Tutton who was there for us that evening; she took to the idea with enthusiasm.

I selected a range of images taken through the microscope. They have relatively simple patterns and a limited colour range and were used in a slide show. The projector at the studio was available and was placed about two to three meters from the model.

A major worry was the intensity of the projector light as it appeared as a brilliant and constant point source of light . Placing myself in the full glare of the projector on its normal setting made my eyes stream. We therefore reduced the brightness considerably.

The reduced light meant that we were using exposures of between 1/10s to 1/4s at ISO400 or about 1/40s to 1/25s on ISO1600. A tripod was essential. Amber was also brilliant at moving into a pose and then freezing briefly for the shot. Nevertheless, of the total of 171 pictures a large number were blurred.

Where the photography worked, the results were fascinating. On the one hand, Amber's face and body moulded the projected patterns as I had hoped. The contrast was the effect of pattern variation in breaking up the face and creating unusual effects. A critical feature was to ensure that the eyes remained recognisable as they provide the visual cue for the viewer's eye and brain to seek out the rest of the structure.

Another useful prop was the mirror placed behind the projector, so that Amber could see the result of a pose and the impact of a pattern on her face and body, bringing out her creative streak through feedback.

This was successful beyond my expectations. The projected patterns could enhance, obscure or break up features. Colour also impacted – just look at the bruise like effect around the mouth and eye with the Arachnoidiscus image.

One of more of the images will be making their way into my Cambridge Open Studios exhibition on the second and third weekends this July!

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