August 12, 2020

Applied Practice | Dream Theory Project | Experimental Images


A quick roundup of some of the more experimental panoramas I shot in the course of this project.

Max Ernst

I was interested in seeing if I could play with scale in a similar way to the Max Ernst images I had referenced in my research. In particular his 1938 painting Nature at Dawn (Evensong).

I thought of shooting some high resolution panoramas at a small scale, composed as if I were making an idealised landscape like Boticelli's Nastagio meets the woman and the knight in the pine forest of Ravenna.

While I think this idea has a lot of potential, I abandoned it for this project. At the time of shooting I hadn't yet come up with the motif of strings, so I wasn't sure how I would bring these scenes into my theme.

Ultimately I felt that it was too much of a departure in style and that in order to make the images work a huge amount of preparation of the scene would be needed.

Bringing the camera down to the ground

Trying out another composition

The moment in Blue Velvet when David Lynch brought his camera down into the grass definitely had an effect on me

Looking these over again, I might produce a series like this. One of the problems I found was that even placing the camera on the ground leaves the lens several inches off ground level. At the small scale the images don't quite feel like landscapes shot by a human—the camera appears to be too elevated, as if the tiny person shooting were standing atop a tiny stepladder.

Perhaps I would have to dig a hole in the ground to achieve the proper camera position.

Among trees

I shot a small experimental set of these, pointing the camera directly upwards. I was raised in Hampshire and Sussex and spent much of my childhood climbing trees. Perhaps a reason that I was drawn to photograph trees as a source of 'wellbeing'.

Again, I'd like to produce a series of these pure abstract images. But for this idea about dreams, I abandoned the approach.

Abstract, shot directly upward


I wanted to try to add a different note to my pines and other organic forms.

I scouted this building site and found an elevated camera position at sunset. I wanted a sky that would be like the skies in the Rousseau paintings I'd researched, in particular; Carnival Evening (1886).

After much haggling with the composition, trying different crops and removing elements of the image I abandoned it. It's too geometric and somehow too realistic to be evocative for the theme I was attempting.

Construction site at sunset
Trying a more abstract crop


It's been hard to know how to move this project in the right direction at times. There's something about creating composites that unlocks seemingly endless possibilities—and that makes it hard to edit the ideas into a single direction.

But, it's been great to experiment with different approaches that may end up as different projects in themselves or starting points for other ideas.

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