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Framing in photography — photography podcast #10

By using objects like win­dows, branches, and arch­ways we can frame our sub­jects in inter­est­ing ways that add unique­ness to our pho­tographs. In this pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast we talk about this tech­nique called framing.

framing in photography
Using Purse han­dles as a frame

framing in photography
Using a bag as a frame

Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast tran­script 10

Photography transcript 10 — Framing in Photography — Photography.ca

Fram­ing in pho­tog­ra­phy — Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast #10

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast hosted by Marko Kulik
[Cam­era clicks]‚‚

This is an audio tran­scrip­tion — Spelling, punc­tu­a­tion and gram­mer may not be perfect‚

Hi there every­one and wel­come to the Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on Photography.ca.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are com­ing to you from Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada, and today is Jan­u­ary 26, 2007.‚ For today’s show, we are going to talk a lit­tle bit about com­po­si­tion and we are going to talk a lit­tle bit about fram­ing in par­tic­u­lar.
Now, what fram­ing is, it is a clas­sic tech­nique whereby you would use a frame to frame a photo.‚ You have often seen this.‚ You will see like a child look­ing through a win­dow and you will see the whole exte­rior of the win­dow with the child look­ing out of it.‚ The win­dow itself makes for a very inter­est­ing com­po­si­tional ele­ment and a lot of these shots work and add inter­est to your pho­tog­ra­phy.‚‚ Frames can be very pow­er­ful and you can use dif­fer­ent objects that will act as frames dur­ing the shoot.‚ You can use branches, you can use an arch­way, you can use a door­way.‚ You could sneak behind some bushes and from the left and from the right just kind of make the branches act as a frame then look at some­thing dif­fer­ent like a flower or a moun­tain or a dog or a per­son from beyond.‚ That will add quite a lot of inter­est to your shot.‚ The branches will act as a frame and make the sub­ject pop.
A tech­nique that has been tried time and time again is just actu­ally using an old frame.‚ You take one of these old wooden frames, you pop the pic­ture out, you have some­one smile behind the frame, and you take the shot get­ting the frame in the shot and the per­son in the frame, the actual pic­ture frame, and that makes for an inter­est­ing shot as well.‚ You can do it with babies, women, old peo­ple, young peo­ple, any­one, and it always adds inter­est to the shot.
Now, some­thing else that you could try is selec­tive focus when you are using fram­ing as well, espe­cially if what you are shoot­ing is far from the frame itself, you can have some inter­est­ing effects with selec­tive focus.‚ Let us say, you are actu­ally shoot­ing through a win­dow.‚ I do not know, you are in some­one else’s base­ment, you open up the win­dow, and you see some­thing inter­est­ing in the dis­tance.‚ You back away just a lit­tle bit, you take a pic­ture of the out­side of the win­dow for the fram­ing effect, and then you also have what you are look­ing at in the dis­tance.‚ If you are focus­ing on the win­dow itself, what is going to be in the dis­tance is prob­a­bly going to be less sharp depend­ing on what aper­ture you use.‚ If you are look­ing for a selec­tive focus effect, I rec­om­mend obvi­ously a larger aper­ture, which will make what is in the dis­tance some­what blurry or less sharp.‚ You can have a really inter­est­ing effect.‚ Let us say it is a flower, or a boy, or a dog, or any­thing actu­ally, you will get the sub­tle form of what is in the dis­tance while hav­ing the actual win­dow itself act­ing as a frame in sharp focus.
On the oppo­site end of it, you can, of course, focus on what is in the dis­tance and keep the frame blurry or less sharp.‚ Again, it would depend on what aper­ture you would use, but use a larger aper­ture and you can play with the dis­tances.‚ If you use too small an aper­ture, f/16, f/22, f/32, then more of the fore­ground and the back­ground will appear to be sharp and you will have less of a selec­tive focus effect.
For one of my shots that I put up on the blog, you should have prob­a­bly seen it by now; if not, just go to Photography.ca/blog.‚ For one of the shots I did for this exper­i­men­tal pod­cast, I basi­cally took a purse and used the han­dles of the purse act­ing as a frame.‚ I set the purse up on a table and put a cou­ple of books under­neath the purse.‚ I backed up and then I had a model hang out maybe about three or four or five feet from behind that purse.‚ I focused both on the han­dle of the purse and got some inter­est­ing effects there and kept the model blurry in the back­ground.‚ Of course, I did the oppo­site as well.‚ I would have shot in sharp focus the model through the han­dles of the purse and the effects are pretty inter­est­ing actu­ally.‚ I hope you liked them.
You can really get some good effects by doing sim­i­lar things.‚ You can use what­ever you want to act as a frame.‚ You could take the door­knob off an old door and shoot through the door­knob.‚ You could open up the door just a crack and shoot through the crack.‚ Focus on the crack or focus on what is in the dis­tance and you are going to have some very inter­est­ing com­po­si­tional shots.‚ These are more artsy.‚ They are more artsy-fartsy.‚ They are more fun.‚ They are more inter­est­ing.‚ They add expe­ri­ence.‚ They have another dimen­sion to the shot.‚ Of course, I highly rec­om­mend, as always, just try­ing out dif­fer­ent things.‚ If it does not work, it does not work.‚ You could take a chair, shoot through the back of a chair, shoot through the back of a model.‚ The frame does not even have to be a full frame.‚ The frame can be like the let­ter “L.”‚ Take a model or any per­son and just have them look out toward the sun­set, out by yon­der, and then use the side of their head and shoul­ders to act as a frame and have some­thing in the dis­tance.‚ Try mak­ing what is in the dis­tance sharp and then try mak­ing their head and shoul­der sharp.‚ It is all about an inter­est­ing shot and the more you play, the more likely you are to get that inter­est­ing shot.
The theme for this learn­ing show as well as the other ones where we give some instruc­tion is to exper­i­ment.‚ Do not be afraid, just try it, espe­cially if you got a dig­i­tal cam­era.‚ Try it.‚ If it does not work, erase the shot.
I very much do hope you will pro­vide some feed­back for the shots we have up and as well on the con­tent of the pod­cast.‚ You can do so through the blog directly, Photography.ca/blog, or you can do it through the bul­letin board as well, Photography.ca, just make your way to the bul­letin board and pro­vide some com­ments.‚ This was our 10th pod­cast and we are please to have made it to 10 and we hope to get to a hun­dred in a cou­ple of years.‚ Hope­fully, we will keep on this sched­ule, one a week and we will get there sooner rather than later.‚ I guess it still makes it about two years, but it is a good start.‚ Ten is solid and I am happy about 10.‚ This pod­cast will end up being our short­est pod­cast since we started at about seven min­utes or so, but we hope you are okay with that, feel­ing that good things came in the small pack­age.‚ Our next pod­cast will be an inter­view pod­cast, so of course it will be a bit longer.‚ We hope you enjoy the mix that we are pro­vid­ing you.
Thanks very much for lis­ten­ing, every­one.‚ Keep on shoot­ing, keep on tak­ing those cre­ative shots and we will see you all again in about one week.‚ Bye for now.
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Interview with Ann Dahlgren — A Fairy’s Child — photography podcast # 9


Pho­to­graph by Ann Dahlgren and Dou­glas Foulke

This show fea­tures an inter­view with fine art pho­tog­ra­pher Ann Dahlgren. Together with her hus­band Dou­glas Foulke, they cre­ated an amaz­ing book of fine art pho­tog­ra­phy called  A Fairy’s Child which is the focus of this interview.

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast tran­script #9

Interview with Ann Dahlgren — A Fairy’s Child — photography podcast # 9


Pho­to­graph by Ann Dahlgren and Dou­glas Foulke

This show fea­tures an inter­view with fine art pho­tog­ra­pher Ann Dahlgren. Together with her hus­band Dou­glas Foulke, they cre­ated an amaz­ing book of fine art pho­tog­ra­phy called A Fairy’s Child which is the focus of this interview.

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast tran­script #9

Photography transcript 9 — Interview with Ann Dahlgren — A Fairy’s Child

[Cam­era clicks]

This is an audio tran­scrip­tion — Spelling, punc­tu­a­tion and gram­mer may not be per­fect
Marko Kulik:                         Hi there every­one and wel­come to the Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on Photography.ca.  My name is Marko.  We are com­ing to you from Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada.  Today is Jan­u­ary 18, 2007.  For today’s show, we are lucky enough to be doing an inter­view with Ann Dahlgren.  Ann Dahlgren along with her hus­band, Dou­glas Foulke, put together this fan­tas­tic book called A Fairy’s Child.  I was lucky enough to come across this book a few years back in New York.  I love the­atri­cal pho­tog­ra­phy and I love mytho­log­i­cal por­traits and pho­tographs, so this is going to be a really, really fun inter­view espe­cially for me and I hope for you, too.  Rather than just talk about it, let us get into it now.
So, I would very much like to wel­come, Ann Dahlgren today.  Ann Dahlgren is a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher and author of the book A Fairy’s Child that she did with her hus­band, Dou­glas Foulke, who is also a fine art photographer.  He is hang­ing around closely and maybe will be able to hear from him dur­ing this inter­view, but we def­i­nitely love to get a feel for this book called A Fairy’s Child, which is just a won­der­ful, won­der­ful piece of what I might call the­atri­cal photography.  Hi there, Ann.  Can you tell us a lit­tle bit about your book?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Hi, Marko.  Well, as you said, the book is called A Fairy’s Child.  It is an explo­ration of fairies and some pretty fan­tas­tic environment.  Basi­cally, the book started as just an idea for Doug and I to do a fun pho­to­graph of a fairy.
Marko Kulik:                         Then how did it evolve into a full-on book?
Ann Dahlgren:                      The idea actu­ally started on a com­mer­cial shoot that we were on in Florida and this art direc­tor we were work­ing with started telling us about this island off the coast of Maine where peo­ple build lit­tle fairy houses.  We thought, “Well, that’s pretty cool.“  We have never heard of any­thing like that before and so, we just started brain­storm­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of actu­ally mak­ing a pho­to­graph of a fairy that looked real, but yet was mys­te­ri­ous and ethe­real and all the things that we love about pho­to­graph.  Basi­cally, it started out with us pro­duc­ing one pho­to­graph and from there it just kind of led to another, which led to another, which led to another. At some point I guess after we had maybe 20 or 30 fin­ished prints, we thought, “Well, maybe we can make this into a book.“  So, that is how it started.
Marko Kulik:                         How long did it take to pho­to­graph all the pho­tographs?
Ann Dahlgren:                      We basi­cally did it on our free time, in between what we do commercially.  So, we worked on it I think over a period of four to maybe five years.
Marko Kulik:                         Four to five years.  Okay.  Where did you find the children?  Were they local chil­dren, were they rel­a­tives, were they actors?
Ann Dahlgren:                      They were everything.  Basi­cally, 90% of our com­mer­cial work is on loca­tion, so every time that we were some place and we came across some really inter­est­ing loca­tion, we would then plan to either go back or else stay after our com­mer­cial shoot to actu­ally do the pho­to­graph for the book.  So, some­times we would do a cast­ing locally to find some mod­els, other times they were friends of friends or fam­ily members.  It kind of was what­ever, wher­ever we could find some­body that fit our idea of our lit­tle fairy.
Marko Kulik:                         For those lis­ten­ers that have not found this book yet, I am going to be putting some links to Ann and Doug’s site, so hope­fully you might be able to find it through there and see extra pic­tures, but I just wanted to tell peo­ple that I was actu­ally blown away when I found this book, wan­der­ing through SoHo about two years ago.  I per­son­ally love the­atri­cal photography.  I love mytho­log­i­cal images.  I love fairies and it was just an absolute treat to find this book in a lit­tle bookstore.  So, if there are still books avail­able, I highly rec­om­mend search­ing for them and get­ting your hands on them.  I will put one or two on our site just so you could see what we are talk­ing about and then you can check out Ann and Doug’s site after that.  I would like to ask you, Ann.  What is your per­sonal con­nec­tion to fairies?  Is it a sub­ject mat­ter that has inter­ested you all along?  Is it a rel­a­tively new thing?
Ann Dahlgren:                      No.  I am not the type of per­son who has pro­fessed to have seen fairies in real life or any­thing like that although we have found that there are peo­ple like that out there.  We have got­ten quite inter­est­ing e-mails from peo­ple that have dis­cov­ered our book and we have found that there is a whole world out there, fairy lovers.  No.  It just sounded like a chal­leng­ing and fun sub­ject mat­ter to try to cre­ate these photographs.  So, I would not say that I have any par­tic­u­lar con­nec­tion with fairies.
Marko Kulik:                         Okay.  Okay.  Well, it is too bad.  I am sure a few peo­ple would have loved to hear the oppo­site, but…
Ann Dahlgren:                      I know.  I know.
Marko Kulik:                         It is all good.  I have no per­sonal con­nec­tion to them myself.  I just love the way they look from my childhood.  So, I am just curi­ous, do you both pho­to­graph at the same time?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Well, sometimes.  Usu­ally what we will do is when we are pro­duc­ing a shoot, I would work a lot on the cos­tume, the make-up, get­ting the kids out­fit­ted, then their ears and their wings and all that entailed.  We would talk about dif­fer­ent cam­eras and films that we are going to be using and usu­ally Doug would start shoot­ing and then I would shoot some.  A lot of times, we would have sev­eral dif­fer­ent cam­eras with dif­fer­ent films loaded, so he could pick up one and I could pick up another and we could direct the child in what­ever way we felt was the right way to go.
Marko Kulik:                         So, it is totally a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort then.  You guys just work on all these projects absolutely together.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Yes.
Marko Kulik:                         Excellent.  Excellent.  So, I would like to always ask, what was your first camera?  How did you get into pho­tog­ra­phy?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Well, for myself, it started back in camp.  So, I was prob­a­bly 10 and we had a lit­tle dark­room at the camp that I went to and that was where I took my first pho­to­graph and processed and printed my first print.  I know for Doug, it started with him at prep school.  His story is, he was told that he should take pho­tog­ra­phy because he could smoke in the darkroom.  That is where it started with him.
Marko Kulik:                         Is he still smok­ing in the dark room?
Ann Dahlgren:                      I do not think so.
Marko Kulik:                         Well, good, good, good.  Very nice.  Very nice.  For the tech kids out there, they are going to won­der how these pho­tographs were created.  The first thing that will prob­a­bly come to mind for a lot of peo­ple is going to be Pho­to­shop, but I am not con­vinced that is the case.  Can you give us a lit­tle insight into how these pho­tographs were cre­ated?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Sure.  All of them were cre­ated using tra­di­tional black and white film.  Most of the times, we would shoot with T-Max 100 or 400 and Kodak infrared film.  We were lucky enough to have put a dark­room into our house, so we would come home after the shoot and process and make prints of what we had just shot and then work from there.  So, pretty much 98% of what you will see in the pho­to­graph was actu­ally there.  We had a spe­cial effects make-up artist make some pros­thetic ears for us.  We had a cos­tume designer who make us a set of wings and then from there, we basi­cally started mak­ing our own cos­tumes, our own wings and things like that, but over time of trav­el­ing with these things and tak­ing the ears on and off, all these kids, they started to dis­in­te­grate and we even­tu­ally had to have more ears made.  Towards the very end of the book, when we were kind of on a dead­line with our pub­lisher to bring in, I do not know, a cer­tain amount of images, the wings really were trashed at that point.  So, we started exper­i­ment­ing with pho­tograph­ing insect wings pri­mar­ily cicada and but­ter­fly wings and then putting those on to the last images that we had shot in postproduction.  So, really, that is the only Pho­to­shop that we really used.  It really was not until the end of the book process that we started uti­liz­ing Pho­to­shop.
Marko Kulik:                         Very, very interesting.  So, really these kids are against real backgrounds.  The back­grounds that you are going to see in all the pho­tographs, those were the back­grounds on loca­tion?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Yes, definitely.  Like I said before, when we would go on loca­tion and we would find these inter­est­ing spots, that is when we decide, “Okay.  This is our next loca­tion” and we would go back and pro­duce the shoot.  We shot a lot in West­ern Florida where the Banyan trees are.  Actu­ally, our very first shoot was in the Sara­sota, Florida region and just the way that the Banyan trees grow, it is pretty fantastic.  So, we started with that.  We have shot in loca­tions in Cal­i­for­nia, Col­orado, New York, kind of wher­ever we found a spot that spoke to us.
Marko Kulik:                         For cer­tain of the images, it looks as though the chil­dren are fly­ing almost or one in par­tic­u­lar that I have the lux­ury of look­ing at right now, one of the chil­dren looked almost sus­pended or flying.  How would that have been accom­plished?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Well, she went flying.  We did a few shoots in the stu­dio and one par­tic­u­lar shoot that we knew we wanted to do was to actu­ally have a fairy flying.  So, we hired a rig­ger or a grip per­son from the movie indus­try to come into the stu­dio and set up this whole har­ness sys­tem where we could actu­ally fly her.  I think the shot that you are prob­a­bly look­ing at has two fairies in it.
Marko Kulik:                         Yes, it is.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Basi­cally, we designed the set in the stu­dio and then we had the two girls take turns in the har­ness, fly­ing.
Marko Kulik:                         Fantastic.  If you are going to attempt this today, would you go more Pho­to­shop or would you still try and do it the tra­di­tional way?
Ann Dahlgren:                      I think now since we do use Pho­to­shop every­day in what we do, we prob­a­bly would uti­lize Pho­to­shop a lot more.  It just was not some­thing that we were using on a daily basis at all back when we started this project.  I think we started it in 1997.  So, every­thing we did was on film in there.
Marko Kulik:                         Okay.  Again, we keep hear­ing this all the time, Pho­to­shop has become a pretty impor­tant tool for pho­tog­ra­phers these days and we are using more tools.  It is just a tool that we can use instead of hir­ing a rig­ger, let us say, to have some­one fly.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Right.  It def­i­nitely cost us a lot more money to actu­ally pro­duce the pho­tographs the way that we did, but that was the way that we went about it.  We did not really think about doing it any other way at that time.
Marko Kulik:                         As an artist, for you, is it more sat­is­fy­ing to have done it the old fash­ion way?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Sure.  It was just so excit­ing to be able to have a vision and put it all together, go to a loca­tion, make it hap­pen, bring the fog machine and the whole deal and come back and have on film what we really imag­ined was there ver­sus sit­ting in front of a com­puter and mak­ing it hap­pen.
Marko Kulik:                         Right.  Right.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Yeah.  I think there was a sense of accom­plish­ment def­i­nitely after all the work that we went through.
Marko Kulik:                         A well-deserved feel­ing of accomplishment.  On another tech­ni­cal level, I am curi­ous actually.  I noticed some of the pic­tures are quite soft, which really adds to the mood effect.  Were you using soft focus fil­ters as well or was that done in the printing?  How was some of the soft­ness achieved on the pho­tographs?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Well, it was done both with fil­ters, with par­tic­u­lar lenses and also dif­fus­ing again in the darkroom.  I know in some of the pho­tographs, we used an old lens that Doug had which is an old Imagon por­trait lens.  It just had this won­der­ful qual­ity of hav­ing a very min­i­mal amount of focus to it.  So, that was over dif­fer­ent lens put on the cam­era, but yeah, we would shoot with softer fil­ters and dif­fuse again in the dark­room.
Marko Kulik:                         For good effect, for absolutely good effect.  Are you going to be doing any other the­atri­cal style themes or con­cepts in the next lit­tle while or do you have projects sim­i­lar in nature for the near future?
Ann Dahlgren:                      We do not have any­thing in the works at the moment.  We have thought about it.  We have a lot of images that we played with in the process of this book that were edited out in the process of our pub­lisher want­ing a cer­tain look to the book.  For instance, we pho­to­graph a lot of old peo­ple to make it a lit­tle bit more of a scary, edgy field to it and we did a whole sec­tion of under­wa­ter pho­tographs where we actu­ally have the fairies in the pool and we were down there with them, with scuba tanks and pho­tograph­ing them under the water.  So, there is poten­tial for another aspect to this whole fairy project that we would love to con­tinue with, we just have not had the time recently.
Marko Kulik:                         Well, when you do have it done, please think of me.  I def­i­nitely want a copy.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Okay.
Marko Kulik:                         For those peo­ple who are going to be intrigued by this book, is it still available?  How can they get their hands on it?  Can they get their hands on it?
Ann Dahlgren:                      Well, at this point, we just were informed that the first print­ing, which was 10,000 copies, is sold out.  In fact, we only actu­ally have two copies I think as our own.  So, we are wait­ing to hear back if Abrams is going to do another printing.  If they do not, then we will have the option to try to take that some place else to have another print­ing done.  So, hope­fully, we will keep it out there.  At this point, your guess is as good as mine of where to find them.
Marko Kulik:                         Okay.  At least for now though I guess thank good­ness for web­sites, peo­ple who want to see some of these images, I know there is a lot of them avail­able at anndahlgren.com.  I am going to put that in the show notes.  Ann Dahlgren is spelled A-n-n D-a-h-l-g-r-e-n, anndahlgren.com if peo­ple want to go directly, but I will put the link in the show notes as well and I believe Ann has allowed me to put a cou­ple of the images on my blog to intrigue you to go to her site because it is also a fan­tas­tic site with a lot of images left from the book.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Right.  The direct link to the fairy web­site is afairyschild.com or you can go directly to the book web­site also, which has a short lit­tle flash movie with some images from the book.
Marko Kulik:                         I am going to put that link in the show notes as well.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Okay.  Great.
Marko Kulik:                         So, I would like very much to thank Ann Dahlgren and Dou­glas Foulke.  Unfor­tu­nately, Dou­glas was not able to be on the line now for tech­ni­cal rea­sons, but we were lucky enough to speak with Ann today and I absolutely thank her.  So, thanks so much for agree­ing to do this, Ann.  I know it was a pretty spon­ta­neous request, but I have been in love with your book for a long, long, long time and your style.  It has really been my plea­sure to speak to you today.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Great.  Thank you, Marko.  It has been a plea­sure.
Marko Kulik:                         So, thanks so much.
Ann Dahlgren:                      Okay.  Bye-bye.
Marko Kulik:                         Bye now.  So, that was our inter­view with Ann Dahlgren.  We really hope you like that interview.  I know I learned a lot and I appre­ci­ated it.  We are going to have more inter­views for you in the next few weeks as well.  If you would like to com­ment, please do so either through the blog, photography.ca/blog or through the bul­letin board.  You can just click on the link and find your way there and you can leave com­ments and sug­ges­tions and any­thing else you like in either of those two places.  So, thanks very much for lis­ten­ing every­one and we will be back prob­a­bly next week.  We will bring you either another inter­view or some knowl­edge, either way you will get knowl­edge on both.  So, take care every­one and happy shooting.  Bye for now.
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Photography transcript 9 — Interview with Ann Dahlgren — A Fairyžs Child

[Cam­era clicks]

This is an audio tran­scrip­tion — Spelling, punc­tu­a­tion and gram­mer may not be per­fect
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Hi there every­one and wel­come to the Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on Photography.ca.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are com­ing to you from Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada.‚ Today is Jan­u­ary 18, 2007.‚ For today’s show, we are lucky enough to be doing an inter­view with Ann Dahlgren.‚ Ann Dahlgren along with her hus­band, Dou­glas Foulke, put together this fan­tas­tic book called A Fairy’s Child.‚ I was lucky enough to come across this book a few years back in New York.‚ I love the­atri­cal pho­tog­ra­phy and I love mytho­log­i­cal por­traits and pho­tographs, so this is going to be a really, really fun inter­view espe­cially for me and I hope for you, too.‚ Rather than just talk about it, let us get into it now.
So, I would very much like to wel­come, Ann Dahlgren today.‚ Ann Dahlgren is a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher and author of the book A Fairy’s Child that she did with her hus­band, Dou­glas Foulke, who is also a fine art pho­tog­ra­pher.‚ He is hang­ing around closely and maybe will be able to hear from him dur­ing this inter­view, but we def­i­nitely love to get a feel for this book called A Fairy’s Child, which is just a won­der­ful, won­der­ful piece of what I might call the­atri­cal pho­tog­ra­phy.‚ Hi there, Ann.‚ Can you tell us a lit­tle bit about your book?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Hi, Marko.‚ Well, as you said, the book is called A Fairy’s Child.‚ It is an explo­ration of fairies and some pretty fan­tas­tic envi­ron­ment.‚ Basi­cally, the book started as just an idea for Doug and I to do a fun pho­to­graph of a fairy.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Then how did it evolve into a full-on book?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ The idea actu­ally started on a com­mer­cial shoot that we were on in Florida and this art direc­tor we were work­ing with started telling us about this island off the coast of Maine where peo­ple build lit­tle fairy houses.‚ We thought, “Well, that’s pretty cool.”‚ We have never heard of any­thing like that before and so, we just started brain­storm­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of actu­ally mak­ing a pho­to­graph of a fairy that looked real, but yet was mys­te­ri­ous and ethe­real and all the things that we love about pho­to­graph. ‚Basi­cally, it started out with us pro­duc­ing one pho­to­graph and from there it just kind of led to another, which led to another, which led to another. At some point I guess after we had maybe 20 or 30 fin­ished prints, we thought, “Well, maybe we can make this into a book.”‚ So, that is how it started.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ How long did it take to pho­to­graph all the pho­tographs?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ We basi­cally did it on our free time, in between what we do com­mer­cially.‚ So, we worked on it I think over a period of four to maybe five years.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Four to five years.‚ Okay.‚ Where did you find the chil­dren?‚ Were they local chil­dren, were they rel­a­tives, were they actors?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ They were every­thing.‚ Basi­cally, 90% of our com­mer­cial work is on loca­tion, so every time that we were some place and we came across some really inter­est­ing loca­tion, we would then plan to either go back or else stay after our com­mer­cial shoot to actu­ally do the pho­to­graph for the book.‚ So, some­times we would do a cast­ing locally to find some mod­els, other times they were friends of friends or fam­ily mem­bers.‚ It kind of was what­ever, wher­ever we could find some­body that fit our idea of our lit­tle fairy.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For those lis­ten­ers that have not found this book yet, I am going to be putting some links to Ann and Doug’s site, so hope­fully you might be able to find it through there and see extra pic­tures, but I just wanted to tell peo­ple that I was actu­ally blown away when I found this book, wan­der­ing through SoHo about two years ago.‚ I per­son­ally love the­atri­cal pho­tog­ra­phy.‚ I love mytho­log­i­cal images.‚ I love fairies and it was just an absolute treat to find this book in a lit­tle book­store.‚ So, if there are still books avail­able, I highly rec­om­mend search­ing for them and get­ting your hands on them.‚ I will put one or two on our site just so you could see what we are talk­ing about and then you can check out Ann and Doug’s site after that.‚ I would like to ask you, Ann.‚ What is your per­sonal con­nec­tion to fairies?‚ Is it a sub­ject mat­ter that has inter­ested you all along?‚ Is it a rel­a­tively new thing?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ No.‚ I am not the type of per­son who has pro­fessed to have seen fairies in real life or any­thing like that although we have found that there are peo­ple like that out there.‚ We have got­ten quite inter­est­ing e-mails from peo­ple that have dis­cov­ered our book and we have found that there is a whole world out there, fairy lovers.‚ No.‚ It just sounded like a chal­leng­ing and fun sub­ject mat­ter to try to cre­ate these pho­tographs.‚ So, I would not say that I have any par­tic­u­lar con­nec­tion with fairies.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Okay.‚ Well, it is too bad.‚ I am sure a few peo­ple would have loved to hear the oppo­site, but‚¦
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I know.‚ I know.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ It is all good.‚ I have no per­sonal con­nec­tion to them myself.‚ I just love the way they look from my child­hood.‚ So, I am just curi­ous, do you both pho­to­graph at the same time?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, some­times.‚ Usu­ally what we will do is when we are pro­duc­ing a shoot, I would work a lot on the cos­tume, the make-up, get­ting the kids out­fit­ted, then their ears and their wings and all that entailed.‚ We would talk about dif­fer­ent cam­eras and films that we are going to be using and usu­ally Doug would start shoot­ing and then I would shoot some.‚ A lot of times, we would have sev­eral dif­fer­ent cam­eras with dif­fer­ent films loaded, so he could pick up one and I could pick up another and we could direct the child in what­ever way we felt was the right way to go.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, it is totally a col­lab­o­ra­tive effort then.‚ You guys just work on all these projects absolutely together.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Excel­lent.‚ Excel­lent.‚ So, I would like to always ask, what was your first cam­era?‚ How did you get into pho­tog­ra­phy?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, for myself, it started back in camp.‚ So, I was prob­a­bly 10 and we had a lit­tle dark­room at the camp that I went to and that was where I took my first pho­to­graph and processed and printed my first print.‚ I know for Doug, it started with him at prep school.‚ His story is, he was told that he should take pho­tog­ra­phy because he could smoke in the dark­room.‚ That is where it started with him.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Is he still smok­ing in the dark room?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I do not think so.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, good, good, good.‚ Very nice.‚ Very nice.‚ For the tech kids out there, they are going to won­der how these pho­tographs were cre­ated.‚ The first thing that will prob­a­bly come to mind for a lot of peo­ple is going to be Pho­to­shop, but I am not con­vinced that is the case.‚ Can you give us a lit­tle insight into how these pho­tographs were cre­ated?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Sure.‚ All of them were cre­ated using tra­di­tional black and white film.‚ Most of the times, we would shoot with T-Max 100 or 400 and Kodak infrared film.‚ We were lucky enough to have put a dark­room into our house, so we would come home after the shoot and process and make prints of what we had just shot and then work from there.‚ So, pretty much 98% of what you will see in the pho­to­graph was actu­ally there.‚ We had a spe­cial effects make-up artist make some pros­thetic ears for us.‚ We had a cos­tume designer who make us a set of wings and then from there, we basi­cally started mak­ing our own cos­tumes, our own wings and things like that, but over time of trav­el­ing with these things and tak­ing the ears on and off, all these kids, they started to dis­in­te­grate and we even­tu­ally had to have more ears made.‚ Towards the very end of the book, when we were kind of on a dead­line with our pub­lisher to bring in, I do not know, a cer­tain amount of images, the wings really were trashed at that point.‚ So, we started exper­i­ment­ing with pho­tograph­ing insect wings pri­mar­ily cicada and but­ter­fly wings and then putting those on to the last images that we had shot in post­pro­duc­tion.‚ So, really, that is the only Pho­to­shop that we really used.‚ It really was not until the end of the book process that we started uti­liz­ing Pho­to­shop.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Very, very inter­est­ing.‚ So, really these kids are against real back­grounds.‚ The back­grounds that you are going to see in all the pho­tographs, those were the back­grounds on loca­tion?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes, def­i­nitely.‚ Like I said before, when we would go on loca­tion and we would find these inter­est­ing spots, that is when we decide, “Okay.‚ This is our next loca­tion” and we would go back and pro­duce the shoot.‚ We shot a lot in West­ern Florida where the Banyan trees are.‚ Actu­ally, our very first shoot was in the Sara­sota, Florida region and just the way that the Banyan trees grow, it is pretty fan­tas­tic.‚ So, we started with that.‚ We have shot in loca­tions in Cal­i­for­nia, Col­orado, New York, kind of wher­ever we found a spot that spoke to us.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For cer­tain of the images, it looks as though the chil­dren are fly­ing almost or one in par­tic­u­lar that I have the lux­ury of look­ing at right now, one of the chil­dren looked almost sus­pended or fly­ing.‚ How would that have been accom­plished?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, she went fly­ing.‚ We did a few shoots in the stu­dio and one par­tic­u­lar shoot that we knew we wanted to do was to actu­ally have a fairy fly­ing.‚ So, we hired a rig­ger or a grip per­son from the movie indus­try to come into the stu­dio and set up this whole har­ness sys­tem where we could actu­ally fly her.‚ I think the shot that you are prob­a­bly look­ing at has two fairies in it.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ ‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yes, it is.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Basi­cally, we designed the set in the stu­dio and then we had the two girls take turns in the har­ness, fly­ing.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Fan­tas­tic.‚ If you are going to attempt this today, would you go more Pho­to­shop or would you still try and do it the tra­di­tional way?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I think now since we do use Pho­to­shop every­day in what we do, we prob­a­bly would uti­lize Pho­to­shop a lot more.‚ It just was not some­thing that we were using on a daily basis at all back when we started this project. ‚I think we started it in 1997.‚ So, every­thing we did was on film in there.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Again, we keep hear­ing this all the time, Pho­to­shop has become a pretty impor­tant tool for pho­tog­ra­phers these days and we are using more tools.‚ It is just a tool that we can use instead of hir­ing a rig­ger, let us say, to have some­one fly.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ It def­i­nitely cost us a lot more money to actu­ally pro­duce the pho­tographs the way that we did, but that was the way that we went about it.‚ We did not really think about doing it any other way at that time.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ As an artist, for you, is it more sat­is­fy­ing to have done it the old fash­ion way?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Sure.‚ It was just so excit­ing to be able to have a vision and put it all together, go to a loca­tion, make it hap­pen, bring the fog machine and the whole deal and come back and have on film what we really imag­ined was there ver­sus sit­ting in front of a com­puter and mak­ing it hap­pen.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ Right.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Yeah.‚ I think there was a sense of accom­plish­ment def­i­nitely after all the work that we went through.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ A well-deserved feel­ing of accom­plish­ment.‚ On another tech­ni­cal level, I am curi­ous actu­ally.‚ I noticed some of the pic­tures are quite soft, which really adds to the mood effect.‚ Were you using soft focus fil­ters as well or was that done in the print­ing?‚ How was some of the soft­ness achieved on the pho­tographs?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, it was done both with fil­ters, with par­tic­u­lar lenses and also dif­fus­ing again in the dark­room.‚ I know in some of the pho­tographs, we used an old lens that Doug had which is an old Imagon por­trait lens.‚ It just had this won­der­ful qual­ity of hav­ing a very min­i­mal amount of focus to it.‚ So, that was over dif­fer­ent lens put on the cam­era, but yeah, we would shoot with softer fil­ters and dif­fuse again in the dark­room.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For good effect, for absolutely good effect.‚ Are you going to be doing any other the­atri­cal style themes or con­cepts in the next lit­tle while or do you have projects sim­i­lar in nature for the near future?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ We do not have any­thing in the works at the moment.‚ We have thought about it.‚ We have a lot of images that we played with in the process of this book that were edited out in the process of our pub­lisher want­ing a cer­tain look to the book.‚ For instance, we pho­to­graph a lot of old peo­ple to make it a lit­tle bit more of a scary, edgy field to it and we did a whole sec­tion of under­wa­ter pho­tographs where we actu­ally have the fairies in the pool and we were down there with them, with scuba tanks and pho­tograph­ing them under the water.‚ So, there is poten­tial for another aspect to this whole fairy project that we would love to con­tinue with, we just have not had the time recently.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, when you do have it done, please think of me.‚ I def­i­nitely want a copy.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ For those peo­ple who are going to be intrigued by this book, is it still avail­able?‚ How can they get their hands on it?‚ Can they get their hands on it?
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Well, at this point, we just were informed that the first print­ing, which was 10,000 copies, is sold out.‚ In fact, we only actu­ally have two copies I think as our own.‚ So, we are wait­ing to hear back if Abrams is going to do another print­ing.‚ If they do not, then we will have the option to try to take that some place else to have another print­ing done.‚ So, hope­fully, we will keep it out there.‚ At this point, your guess is as good as mine of where to find them.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.At least for now though I guess thank good­ness for web­sites, peo­ple who want to see some of these images, I know there is a lot of them avail­able at anndahlgren.com.‚ I am going to put that in the show notes.‚ Ann Dahlgren is spelled A-n-n D-a-h-l-g-r-e-n, anndahlgren.com if peo­ple want to go directly, but I will put the link in the show notes as well and I believe Ann has allowed me to put a cou­ple of the images on my blog to intrigue you to go to her site because it is also a fan­tas­tic site with a lot of images left from the book.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Right.‚ The direct link to the fairy web­site is afairyschild.com or you can go directly to the book web­site also, which has a short lit­tle flash movie with some images from the book.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ I am going to put that link in the show notes as well.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Great.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, I would like very much to thank Ann Dahlgren and Dou­glas Foulke.‚ Unfor­tu­nately, Dou­glas was not able to be on the line now for tech­ni­cal rea­sons, but we were lucky enough to speak with Ann today and I absolutely thank her.‚ So, thanks so much for agree­ing to do this, Ann.‚ I know it was a pretty spon­ta­neous request, but I have been in love with your book for a long, long, long time and your style.‚ It has really been my plea­sure to speak to you today.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Great.‚ Thank you, Marko.‚ It has been a plea­sure.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ So, thanks so much.
Ann Dahlgren:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Okay.‚ Bye-bye.
Marko Kulik:‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚‚ Bye now.‚ So, that was our inter­view with Ann Dahlgren.‚ We really hope you like that inter­view.‚ I know I learned a lot and I appre­ci­ated it.‚ We are going to have more inter­views for you in the next few weeks as well.‚ If you would like to com­ment, please do so either through the blog, photography.ca/blog or through the bul­letin board.‚ You can just click on the link and find your way there and you can leave com­ments and sug­ges­tions and any­thing else you like in either of those two places.‚ So, thanks very much for lis­ten­ing every­one and we will be back prob­a­bly next week.‚ We will bring you either another inter­view or some knowl­edge, either way you will get knowl­edge on both.‚ So, take care every­one and happy shoot­ing.‚ Bye for now.
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Photography transcript 8 — Painting with light — Photography.ca

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This is an audio tran­scrip­tion — Spelling, punc­tu­a­tion and gram­mer may not be perfect

Hi there every­one and wel­come to the 8th Pho­tog­ra­phy Pod­cast on Photography.ca.‚ My name is Marko.‚ We are com­ing to you from Mon­treal, Que­bec, Canada, and today is Jan­u­ary 10, 2007.‚ Well, first off, I would like to wish every­one a very happy new year.‚ We were slightly delayed in get­ting this out because it was the hol­i­day sea­son, but we are back on top of our game and I expect, I intend, my goal is one pod­cast a week for 2007.‚ So, if I fail, if I miss a week, please feel free to send me your com­ments, photography.ca@gmail.com.‚ You can leave any com­ments there.‚ In fact, you can also com­ment on our bul­letin board about any­thing you like, this pod­cast, pho­tog­ra­phy in gen­eral, at Photography.ca and you will find the link to the blog there as well and to the forum as well.
For today’s show, it is pretty much an exper­i­ment, an exper­i­ment that I did actu­ally.‚ For the longest time, I have been want­ing to exper­i­ment with paint­ing with light.‚ For those peo­ple that do not know what it is, paint­ing with light is illu­mi­nat­ing a per­son or an object with light.‚ In order to expose a pho­to­graph, in case we do not know or we need a reminder, we need light.‚ We could leave a shut­ter open for two days straight in a dark room and there will be no expo­sure at all on that film, which means you can leave it open for two days, close the film, put it back to frame 1, for exam­ple, and then just shoot again nor­mally and there will be no dif­fer­ence at all because no light hit that film.‚ We need light to expose a pho­to­graph.‚ Usu­ally, that light will come from the sun, it will come from a flash, it will come from ambi­ent room light, and that is how we light our sub­jects.‚ With paint­ing with light, we pho­to­graph in a dark or very dark envi­ron­ment and then we manip­u­late the light to light the sub­ject or model or what­ever we are pho­tograph­ing.
The typ­i­cal way to do this is with a flash­light or some type of light source where you will leave the cam­era on a tri­pod because you do not want it to move at all and you will just out­line the object or paint in the object or illu­mi­nate the object in some way.‚ I should tell you that this is not the eas­i­est thing to do.‚ I should also tell you that if you are lucky enough to have a dig­i­tal cam­era, it is way eas­ier with dig­i­tal cam­era because you could just do your exper­i­ment and if it works, yahoo, keep it; if it does not, just dump it and start again.‚ With­out a doubt, one of the hard­est parts of this exper­i­ment would be the expo­sure.‚ How do you deter­mine the expo­sure?‚ Well, if you are using a dig­i­tal cam­era, it is just so easy.‚ You do not even really need a light meter or expose.‚ You just out­line the object with a flash­light or a pen­light or some­thing and if it is well exposed, you see it; if it needs more expo­sure you give it more and if it needs less you give it less.‚ If you are using a tra­di­tional‚ cam­era, it is pretty hard or it is much harder actu­ally, but how I sug­gest doing it is using an ambi­ent light meter, hand­held.‚ What you would do is you would prob­a­bly use a sec­ond per­son, that would be eas­i­est.‚ You get that per­son to shine the light source.‚ In my case, I used flash­lights, we will talk about that shortly, but any­how you would get that per­son to shine the light source and then you meter the light source and you have to go through the entire expo­sure with that read­ing.‚ If, for exam­ple, it said f/5.6 at 1 sec­ond, that would be f/5.6 at 1 sec­ond for that sin­gle spot of light.‚ If you were out­lin­ing an object, you would have to go around the perime­ter of that object, if that is what you wanted to do let us say, for 1 sec­ond at a time hold­ing the flash­light pretty steady and mov­ing it at a 1-second incre­ment.‚ Pretty dif­fi­cult to do, again, that is why dig­i­tal makes it so much eas­ier.‚ The effects are amaz­ing and one of my favorite words in the Eng­lish lan­guage is serendip­ity, which means the thrill of find­ing some­thing unsought.‚ This often hap­pens with paint­ing with light.‚ We will try to get one effect and after it is over and we see the results, some­thing really weird and wacky and won­der­ful hap­pens.‚ It is part of the art and you improve on it.‚ If you get a result that is pretty good, you try and do it again and get it bet­ter and bet­ter and bet­ter and hone your result until the pic­ture is fan­tas­tic.
Here is how I did my exper­i­ment.‚ I bought a bunch of small­ish flash­lights and I just wanted to illu­mi­nate dif­fer­ent objects dur­ing the expo­sure while my cam­era was on a tri­pod. ‚Okay, I bet some peo­ple are won­der­ing, “All right, all right, get to it.‚ How did you do it, Marko?‚ How did you do it?”‚ Well, I do not know if I did it the right way or the wrong way, but I sure as heck had a lot of fun doing it and here is what I did. ‚I pur­chased a lot of small flash­lights.‚ My goal was really to out­line the perime­ter of the object and to just get it to glow.‚ This was pretty darn dif­fi­cult actu­ally because it was hard to con­trol the spray or the fine­ness of the light, let us say, so I bought a Maglite and other dif­fer­ent types of flash­lights, all small, and I tried to con­trol, let us say, the noz­zle by mak­ing it really, really thin.‚ I tried using a fun­nel.‚ I tried using a cap.‚ Every­thing I used, the light still was not fine enough for me, so I really was not 100% sat­is­fied with the result.‚ I still had a good time.‚ I still had time.‚ I think a cou­ple of the results are cool, but I did not have the ulti­mate pre­ci­sion tool.‚ I have heard that there is some­thing out there called a Hose­mas­ter, which also hap­pens to be my pornonym, a hose­mas­ter, but it like costs sev­eral thou­sand dol­lars for this machine and appar­ently using fiber optics, it really gives this very con­trolled, fine stream of light in which you can out­line objects.‚ I did not have it so I went to the depart­ment store, spent 20 or 25 bucks on some flash­lights and had a blast, actu­ally.‚ I used these flash­lights to out­line cer­tain objects.‚ At first, I started with some­thing that was alive.‚ I actu­ally started with my cat and I tried to make the spray of light as fine as pos­si­ble out­line the cat and the result was actu­ally pretty cool.‚ It was cool because you need a long expo­sure.‚ When you close all the lights or get it really dark and you place your cam­era on a tri­pod, you really need a long expo­sure.‚ A cat is a liv­ing thing and a cat, unless it is sleep­ing, it is going to move.‚ What hap­pened was, I tried to out­line my cat and my cat would move through­out many of the expo­sures.‚ Although that was not what I wanted, serendip­ity, word of the day, I really had a cool effect with one shot in par­tic­u­lar whereby the cat was still for, let us say, 4 sec­onds of an 8-second expo­sure and then moved his head to another direc­tion and was pretty still then too.‚ You actu­ally have a ghost­ing effect with two heads, which is really, really inter­est­ing.‚ So, that was my first test.‚ I used — I think it was the Maglite actu­ally.‚ I bought two size Maglites, the mini Maglite and the medium-sized Maglite and I out­lined them both.‚ I did about five shots with the cat.‚ I will prob­a­bly put one up, so you can give me your com­ments.‚ Let me know if you like it.
My next test was with a model, actu­ally.‚ I used a live model and, again, I tried to out­line.‚ My out­lin­ing attempts again, it was dif­fi­cult to con­trol the spray of light because I really wanted to get fine detail and it was dif­fi­cult.‚ If you are not inter­ested in the fine detail, you could just go over var­i­ous aspects of the body, legs, face, hands, breasts, what­ever, and you can get good effects.‚ For me, my best effect hap­pened when I actu­ally used a laser light.‚ I bought one of these $3 lasers.‚ I have cats, too.‚ My cats love to chase the thing.‚ Dur­ing the expo­sure, I out­lined the model with a laser light and that effect was really cool in my opin­ion.‚ Again, it was not per­fect.‚ The con­trol of the light was not per­fect, so hard to do per­fectly, but the result is quite good and I am actu­ally pleased with the result.‚ Again, serendip­ity being what it is, we also tried using a crys­tal.‚ We had the model hold the crys­tal and then we shone the light using the laser light through the crys­tal and then that dif­fracted light hit the model in all kinds of weird and cool ways.‚ I did a few expo­sures with that as well, which you will also see on the blog.‚ Really, it was a com­bi­na­tion of both out­lin­ing the model, try­ing to get the best result I could with the light, hold­ing it steady as I could, mov­ing my hand as steady as I could, and then shin­ing the light through the crys­tal, which also illu­mi­nated the model and gave a really very inter­est­ing result.‚ If any­one wants to try to do exactly what I did, please, enjoy, exper­i­ment.‚ Take my idea.‚ Go with it.‚ Run with it.‚ Make it bet­ter.‚ Do some­thing fun.‚ Do some­thing art­ful.‚ Do some­thing dif­fer­ent.‚ Do some­thing inter­est­ing.‚ That is what this pod­cast is all about, fine art pho­tog­ra­phy, mak­ing art from pho­tog­ra­phy, and really hav­ing a lot of fun with it.
Next, I wanted to try to out­line dif­fer­ent objects out­side.‚ This was just the wrong time of year for it, I must say.‚ I mean it is freez­ing in Mon­treal.‚ My cam­era died.‚ I was using a dig­i­tal cam­era.‚ It died in mid-shoot.‚ My hands were freez­ing.‚ I highly sug­gest doing this in the sum­mer­time.‚ If any of you are lucky enough to be in Cal­i­for­nia or the Mid­dle East or some­where warm, enjoy your­self.‚ Go out­side and do it.‚ I have seen paint­ing with light pho­tographs where you could paint a whole tree or a moun­tain.‚ The results are really, really inter­est­ing as well.‚ You can use even a flash.‚ You can use a portable flash and just really pop that flash at dif­fer­ent lev­els of inten­sity, again, for great effect.‚ Take a light meter.‚ Do an expo­sure, let us say, of the tree and then just try pop­ping it.‚ Try get­ting as close to the orig­i­nal expo­sure as pos­si­ble and then play­ing with it and mod­i­fy­ing it from there.‚ One thing that is very cool, which we men­tioned at the begin­ning of the pod­cast is that you need light to expose the pho­to­graph.‚ So, while I was light­ing cer­tain objects out­side, I wore com­pletely black.‚ I got in my bur­glar uni­form, put on some black jeans, black sweater, black hat, black gloves, and that way I was actu­ally able to manip­u­late the light dur­ing the expo­sure and walk through the shut­ter with­out my body affect­ing the expo­sure. ‚Because my body was so black, it was so dark, not enough to reg­is­ter on the cam­era sen­sor.‚ I was able to walk like in front of the lens with no prob­lems what­so­ever.‚ For one of my tests out­side, I tried to light a bird­cage and I used the flash­light, one of the smaller ones.‚ I tried my best to only light the bird­cage and the result is pretty inter­est­ing.‚ It is okay.‚ Like I said, my hands were freez­ing.‚ I moved quickly, but I did spend like over an hour out­side, maybe even an hour and a half just try­ing dif­fer­ent exper­i­ments, try­ing and look­ing, try­ing and look­ing, and it was quite inter­est­ing.
Like I said, I would have loved to have had more con­trol over the light, over the fine­ness of the point of light only because that is what I was after.‚ If you have an image in your head, you always try and achieve that image, but it is not really nec­es­sary.‚ If you want to just light some­thing thicker and not get the fine detail, you could also do some really inter­est­ing results.‚ I know that some peo­ple have also put like fil­ters, soft focus fil­ters on front of their cam­era dur­ing the expo­sure and that soft­ens the whole thing up as well.‚ I did not do it this time, but it is some­thing that I would def­i­nitely con­sider doing in the future because I do intend to try this again, prob­a­bly in the sum­mer­time when it is warmer.‚ For another object that I tried to light, I tried to light a boot.‚ I took a boot and I put in the win­dow, in a win­dow rather, and again I tried to out­line the boot and the result is pretty inter­est­ing.‚ I think it is inter­est­ing.‚ You can leave a com­ment and tell me what you thought as well.‚ Again, I took a light meter, shone it, took a base expo­sure, and just try to go over the entire boot at a reg­u­lar rate what­ever the expo­sure told me.‚ I tried to deal with about a half a sec­ond or a sec­ond and then go around the entire object for that half a sec­ond, leav­ing it half a sec­ond at every point while trac­ing the object in effect.
If you are going to light an inan­i­mate object, in a way, that is kind of easy because there is one less vari­able of move­ment that you have to con­tend with.‚ When I lit the cat and the model, the expo­sures were like from 8 sec­onds to 30 sec­onds.‚ Those mod­els — your cat can­not be per­fectly still for 30 sec­onds, a human can­not either, usu­ally a 60th of a sec­ond is the max you can nor­mally shoot some­one with­out like a ghost­ing effect or a move­ment effect.‚ They were pretty still, but there is still move­ment involved, so that is a vari­able that may add or detract in the photo, but it is a vari­able you need to be aware of.‚ When you are deal­ing with an inan­i­mate object like a boot, a bird­cage, a tree, a small hill or moun­tain, there is no ghost­ing effect, so you could really take your time.‚ You could put your cam­era on bulb with a shut­ter.‚ You could leave it open for min­utes at a time.‚ The max­i­mum I did was 30 sec­onds, but you could leave it open for min­utes for sure, min­utes.
That pretty much sums up my expe­ri­ence with this test with paint­ing with light.‚ I would absolutely love to hear some posts or com­ments or send me some pic­tures, post it on the blog or post it in the bul­letin board or send it to me by email, photography.ca@gmail.com.‚ I would love to get some feed­back on your own exper­i­ments or maybe if you took some­thing away from this pod­cast or you have some­thing to add or you think, “You know what?‚ Marko, you could’ve done some­thing dif­fer­ently or bet­ter,” I would love to hear it.‚ So, please shoot me a com­ment and it will be my plea­sure as always to com­ment back.
That about wraps it up for our first pod­cast of the year and our 8th pod­cast in total.‚ Again, please com­mu­ni­cate via the blog, via the bul­letin board.‚ We intend to do this once a week.‚ Next week, I am not sure what the topic is going to be yet, but I have an idea that it might have to do with fram­ing, ooohhh fram­ing, and the pos­si­bil­i­ties and the dif­fer­ent types of com­po­si­tion and/or art­ful­ness that you could cre­ate with var­i­ous fram­ing tech­niques.
That about does it for me.‚ Thanks so much for lis­ten­ing.‚ Keep on shoot­ing every­one and we will be back next week.‚ Bye for now.
[Cam­era clicks]

Painting with light — photography podcast #8

This pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast focuses on paint­ing with light, a tech­nique where you actu­ally illu­mi­nate or ‘paint’ a per­son or object with a light source like a flash­light. The results are fun and inter­est­ing and we hope you’ll com­ment. Below are some of the images talked about in the show. Click the pho­tographs to enlarge them.

painting with light photo painting with light photograph

painting with light photograph

painting with light

Pho­tog­ra­phy pod­cast tran­script #8

Painting with light — blog post teaser

Paint­ing with light is a really cool tech­nique for pro­duc­ing fine art pho­tographs. I am work­ing on a few right now and will post my results as a blog post or a pod­cast and posts some­time this week. For those that don’t know‚ — In order to expose a pho­to­graph you need light. Usu­ally that light comes from the sun, flash etc. When you paint with light you pho­to­graph in TOTAL or almost total dark­ness, then with a flash­light (torch) flash, or other light source you light the object while your cam­era sits on a tri­pod and the shut­ter stays open (on bulb) for the whole exposure.

This was just the teaser. So far the results are super cool — and I will post them with a fuller expla­na­tion this week (hope­fully). Hang tight. 2007 will be a year of experimentation.