During my visit back to Dundee this month, I decided to take a trip up to The Queens Well at Glen Esk. This is a place I have visited several times with my dad when I was younger as we would climb Mount Keen together.
Over the last few weeks I have been following different photographers on instagram who create emotive imagery through different landscapes and models in the frame. One photographer’s work I really liked was TJ Drydale, a fine art, portrait and fashion photographer who creates fairytale like photographs that spark an emotive response for the viewer. Drydale’s aim is to create images that portray this idea of exploring, longing, wonder, imagination and a dream like state. There is a romantic feel to Drydale’s work, portraying this idea to me of a passion and love for the space captured within the frame. One of his projects I am inspired by is titled Ireland and contains a series of different photographs of dramatic fantasy like backdrop locations and portrays this feeling of discovery and searching for something out with the camera frame. This is a quality I would like to incorporate into my work to portray my love for where I come from.
(Drydale, Ireland, n, d.)
For my self portraiture shoot at Glen Esk I opted to using my Nikon D850 camera which I placed on a tripod with my flash trigger attached, and then one light source with a white reflective umbrella. I wanted the light to softly hit me and be natural looking, rather than harsh and flashy. To achieve this I kept the light source at a distance from where I planned to stand in the camera lens frame. I wanted to capture the beauty the landscape and wild heather around me (just like Drydale does in his photos) so I set the camera up far away from my and used a 50mm lens to capture me in the middle of the frame with this beautiful view wrapped around me.
Behind the scenes:
Editing process in photoshop:
Throughout this project I have adopted a minimal editing technique, using features such as the curves tool to lift duller tones and the saturation tool to enhance the already beautiful colours. I want these photographs to have a very natural feel to them, and so I did not feel it was necessary to apply a more heavier post production process i.e. skin retouching.
Since this is my third self portraiture shoot now, I found myself more confident in front of the camera and also much quicker at adjusting the camera and lighting settings. I really liked this idea of looking away from the camera as I think this helps to draw the viewer in and make them question what is so intriguing outside of the camera frame. Overall, I am very happy with how these photographs turned out. Self portraiture is a difficult technique to create and I feel confident in both my progression and ability to have captured photographs that portray my love and passion for my home country. I am happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone to experiment with something completely new in the module as I think this way of working has encouraged me to slow down my workflow and pay more attention to what is around me. To improve in future shoots, I would like to expand my poses and try to get more creative with different angles and lighting techniques, to create more emotive and dramatic images, just like Drydale does.
After our summative presentation on 30th April, I received feedback asking again why I was portraying Scotland in this romanticised way despite knowing the darker parts of Scottish history, the example of The Ice Cream Wars was mentioned to me again. As I discussed in my blog reflecting on my second crit session with Alex, this darker perception and idea of Scotland is not how I view it. I did not experience these scenarios and so I do not wish to portray my project in this light. I want to visually create the happy memories and feelings I associate with Scotland into my photographs.
Galloway, L. (2021) The Queens Well Glen Esk. [photograph]. Glen Esk
Drydale, TJ. (n, d). Ireland. [photograph]. https://www.tjdrysdale.com/ireland-explored