Monthly Archives: July 2013

Seeing aluminium in a new light

When we understand something in a different way than before, we say that we see it in a new light. We use all sorts of visual metaphors to denote a better understanding. We shed light on a weighty problem, we illuminate the debate, etc….
We are typically accustomed to seeing objects in the direct sunlight, the soft diffuse light of an overcast day, or other similar lighting conditions. When an ordinary object is lit in a way we are not used to, we really see it in a new light.
In my previous blog post, I showed how the light painting technique can be used to give the photograph a surreal mood. This happens because it is possible to create a lighting pattern unlike anything we are used to. It is much easier to light paint small objects, such as a small piece of aluminium foil. Combining light painting and the use of gels to change the color of the light, it is possible to create some striking pictures of a mundane subject like aluminium foil .

Light painting of close-up of crumpled aluminium foil.

Light painting of close-up of crumpled aluminium foil.

Another example of light painting of close-up of crumpled aluminium foil.

Another example of light painting of close-up of crumpled aluminium foil.

 

The language of light: drama

In my previous blog post, I discussed how light and colours can be used to evoke a peaceful feeling. In this article, I want to show examples of how to use light to create drama. In story telling, drama is often created out of conflict. Good versus evil in action movies. External circumstances opposing the union of two lovers in Romeo and Juliet. In the latter play, Shakespeare uses light and dark imagery throughout. Romeo describes Juliet as being like the sun while Juliet describes Romeo as ‘day in night’. The contrast between light and dark can be interpreted in a metaphorical way as the opposition between love and hate, or youth and age.

In a similar way, one creates dramatic imagery by opposing light and dark. One way to achieve this is with directional light that produces deep shadows. In the picture below, taken in the Meadows park in Edinburgh, the street light creates a shadow of the tree that adds drama to the image.

Back lit tree in the Meadows park, Edinburgh, at night.

Back lit tree in the Meadows park, Edinburgh, at night.

One can also add a surreal feel to the image by using the technique of light painting.  In the picture below, taken on Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh, the light seemingly coming from various directions adds a surreal mood to the dramatic patterns of light and shadows.

Using light painting to create a surreal look to this scene on Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh,

Using light painting to create a surreal look to this scene on Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh,

 

Light and color: calm and peaceful

The color you use to paint a room can influence the mood and energy level of the place you are decorating. For example, the color red can increase blood pressure. The way we respond to color is also determined by cultural factors. For instance, in Western countries, white is associated with purity and innocence. In many Eastern countries, it is a symbol of mourning.

One can set a playful mood with primary colors, like red, blue and yellow. Or use cooler muted colors such as sage green and sky blue for a calmer ambiance. You won’t often see a bedroom with red walls, but it may be a good idea to use bright colors in an office space.

The light and colors in a photograph can evoke similar emotions in the viewer. We had a week of great weather in Edinburgh, and I was able to take a number of photographs. The picture below was taken from Portobello beach a bit before sunset. Note how the pale sky blue, orange, red colors and low contrast give the scene a calm and peaceful mood.

Firth of forth from Portobello beach, Edinburgh, before sunset

Firth of forth from Portobello beach, Edinburgh, before sunset

Compare the above to the photograph I took a while back in Lausanne, Switzerland. The color palette is about the same: blue, orange and red, but the darker colors and greater contrast create a more subdued, sombre mood.

Lake Geneva from Vidy beach, Lausanne, Switzerland, after sunset

Lake Geneva from Vidy beach, Lausanne, Switzerland, after sunset

 

 

Vision training: the role of play

“Play is the highest form of research”.  Albert Einstein

It is very difficult to make an important scientific discovery. Even Einstein, who is an absolute legend, only made a few major contributions to physics. Most of the ideas you may have when doing research don’t really lead to much.

If you carry out research as work, it comes with a purpose, namely to make an important discovery. And since those are very hard to come by, you are very likely to get frustrated. And frustration. a killer of creativity, generally begets more frustration. Since there is a limit to how much frustration anyone can take, eventually you give up. On the other hand, when you are just playing around, you don’t expect anything but enjoyment out of it. In that case, you can just keep doing it for a long time, exploring lots and lots of ideas. And the more ideas you have, the more likely you are to find a good one.

I like to go out and shoot for myself with no expectations. Just playing around with new techniques and/or camera features. Lately, I have been playing with the multiple exposure feature of my camera. Just to see what happens. In order to develop some intuition about the kind of subjects that work for this kind of technique, I have been exploring many possibilities. Along the way, I had a happy accident, with the lone tree below.

Multiple exposures of a lone tree

I used nine exposures of this tree, in Princes Street gardens, Edinburgh, each time moving the camera down a little bit. This effect is achieved in camera, not in Photoshop (although you could do something similar with Photoshop).

BNI video: In The City chapter launch invitation

Did you know that 4 billion hours of video are watched each month on YouTube? For example, ‘Blendtec’, a blender manufacturer, became an internet sensation and boosted their brand awareness thanks to their “Will it blend?” series of YouTube videos that have over 219 million views. But video is also helpful for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Since Google now owns YouTube, their close relationship means that videos can really help one’s Google search rank.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, consumer internet video traffic is projected to account for 69 percent of all consumer internet traffic in 2017, up from 57 percent in 2012.

Video is now such an important medium of communication that best selling author Robert Greene commissioned a video trailer to promote the release of his book ‘Mastery’.

I recently became a member of the largest business referral organization, BNI. In the light of the above arguments, it was logical to follow the current trends, and I created a short invitation video for the launch of our new Edinburgh chapter, “In The City”. The video allows the invitee to meet some of the chapter members and get a sense of what our meetings are like. This is much harder to achieve with a written invitation.