Thursday, June 17, 2010

Motion Portrait

Reeja, originally uploaded by garyhellerphotography.

In this portrait, I was experimenting with a concept involving a long exposure while the subject is in motion. During the exposure I fire off the strobes manually. Each strobe burst will capture the subject in motion giving the effect of a layering of images in a way that depicts movement and action.
The technicals in this paticular take involves setting the camera on a tripod and fixing the shutter duration to 1 second. During the time the shutter is open, Ree Ja is moving in a somewhat predetermined and orchestrated series of movements with the key emphasis being that she look straight to the camera at the final moment. Easier said than done. . . While she is moving about during the exposure, I am firing off the strobes remotely trying to time them so the last burst is just at the final moment and when Ree Ja is looking straight at me.
Many of the takes were quite interesting and I like them all for various reasons, but this particular result really made the impact that I was after. Face is sharp, hair is flying, arms are shown in various stages of movement and of course there is a strangeness about it. I find it looks as though she is removing or replacing her head.
Ree Ja had contacted me upon seeing the result to commend me for such a successful execution and as I was answering her to thank her as well for pulling it off it struck me that her role in this will most likely go unsung and the skill and experience on her part, unnoticed.
What most viewers will not realize is the composure and awareness of concept on her part. Having experimented with this idea a few times in the past I can tell you that its very difficult to move around as much and as fast in a short period of time as was done here and maintain composure in facial expression and body position.
A lesser model would have wound up with a contorted and odd facial expression and/or had eyes half shut, etc.
Simply by looking at her hair flying in this image and the various positions of the arms during the course of 1 second we can determine that Ree Ja was moving quite a bit and very quickly as well. To maintain composure in body positon as well as facial expression is incredibly difficult. I could not have asked her for better results.

Shot against a dark gray paper background with colors adjusted a bit to bring a hue of green behind her.


Anonymous said...

brilliant work Gary!

slommler said...

Wow! That is fabulous! Definitely accomplished what you wanted. Like you said; she did a terrific job. It has a strange surreal component to it. Almost nightmarish!
And the shot itself is crystal clear and only blurred, as in motion, around her arms and hands. Well done!

Bonnie said...

This is mesmerizing Gary! The juxtaposition of the stillness of her head with the movement of hair and arms ... is startling, pulls you in ... to try and figure out what kind of impossible human contortion is taking place. I love the background color here too.

Thanks for sharing not only what you did, but also what was required of your model to produce this effect. What you both did certainly produced a stunning result. Cudos.

Daryl said...

Love it ... I think you are one of the most talented photographers I know .. and one who always shares his 'how to'.. an important thing!

willow said...

Uber-cool!! Gosh, I wish I had some of that fabulous "Pocahontas" hair!!

Agneta said...

Wooooooow & Woooooooo, your blog is so cool & me like!!

Agneta, a swedish one ;)